Malaysian eateries confused over different rules on service charge

Malaysian eateries confused over different rules on service charge

PETALING JAYA - Restaurant owners here are confused over the different rules set by the Government for imposing a service charge on their customers.

Sonali Hajderasi, who runs a Mediterranean restaurant in Selangor, claimed that three officers from the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry had come to check whether she had a collective agreement (CA) with her staff since she imposed a service charge on her customers.

"The officers came with normal tags and no photo identification at odd hours (8.45pm) when my office was closed. They gave me three days to send a CA to their office," she alleged.

Sonali claimed that despite producing a CA, she got two more visits from the officers after a customer complained.

The new regulations were unclear and had resulted in frustration for both customers and business owners, she said, adding that the service charge collected was distributed to her employees monthly.

A restaurant manager in Brickfields said he had stopped imposing the service charge after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

"We only had the service charge for three months before the GST but soon after it was implemented, we had to remove it because many of our customers were not pleased.

"After one of our bosses approached the authorities on this issue, he was told that we could choose to charge or not depending on our needs," he said, adding that the restaurant had a CA with its staff.

Restaurant owners, he said, were confused because they had agreed to distribute yearly bonuses for their staff from the service charge.

"We need a fixed solution fast," he added.

Another mid-range priced Thai restaurant said it had also removed the service charge from the receipts since GST was imposed.

"It's a mess now. We don't want to see customers making a fuss so we removed it. But we intend to compensate for this by increasing our food prices in the near future," said the owner.

He said the service charge collected was distributed to employees in the form of bonuses twice a year.

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