Restaurants see red over proposed differential pricing order

DELHI: The hospitality industry has raised the issue of the forthcoming clampdown on charging customers different prices for identical packaged products with the government, said a top official of the National Restaurants Association of India (NRAI).

“The industry has taken this up with the ministry. We have written to them explaining our stand. In case needed, we will take this up in court,” said Riyaaz Amlani, president of NRAI, which represents hundreds of restaurants, reports The Economic Times.

The consumer affairs ministry said last month that the practice of differential pricing of similar packaged products would not be allowed starting January next year. Although there has been consumer-led litigation against inflated or differential pricing at restaurants, hotels, malls, airports and other institutions, the matter has remained by and large inconclusive so far.

“At a restaurant, we are not selling a product, we are selling a service. The consumer doesn’t walk into a fine dining restaurant just to buy a cola can at the counter. The consumer is served a meal and he is paying for the full service,” said Amlani, who is also chief executive at Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, which operates restaurants Saltwater Grill, Smoke House Deli and Social.

“What is needed are specific guidelines to balance the interests of both consumers and commercial interests of institutions,” Delhi High Court advocate Ajay Tejpal said. “This is an evolving matter and has been ambiguous so far.”

An amendment to the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011, prohibits the declaration of different maximum retail prices (dual MRPs) on identical pre-packaged commodities, unless allowed by law. This comes into effect January 1, 2018.


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