ICT Engineering – Gediminas

Practical placement in Kolkata, India

Dining in India

Eating out with friends in India

“So I guess we’ll just have to split the taxes evenly then.”

It’s 2012, India is still a developing country and some things here are done in a way that might be bothersome to visitors from Europe.

Dining with friends in India can be a frustrating experience, because of the way the pricing and taxes are handled. In part, the problem is in the electronic system that the restaurants use, but not all restaurants have it, so it’s their responsibility to choose the right one. I hope at least one restaurant owner in India will read this and consider addressing at least one of these issues:

1. The prices on the menu don’t include the VAT

What does it do:

Say, you’re in a restaurant and you order a meal worth 99 INR. You’re thinking: “It’s good that I have this 100 INR bill to pay for the meal, because I have exact change to go home with a bus.” – WRONG. The meal you’ve just ordered costs approx 124 INR because of the VAT and Service Tax which are not listed in the prices.

What could be done:

Write the prices could be written with the taxes included. Make the prices higher if you have to, but please don’t trick people like this if you want them to keep coming back.

2. The prices on the receipt don’t include the VAT

What does it do:

So, you’re already frustrated after you have found out that the price you need to pay is higher than the one on the menu, but that’s just the start – on the receipt the taxes are summed up. That’s right, not only do you have to pay more, but also you need to calculate the exact amount of tax you need to pay, by yourself. Most of the time people choose to just split the taxes evenly, but this leads to unfair situations where, say, the total sum that you have to pay for your meal is significantly lower than that of your friends’, but you have to pay the same amount of tax as they do.

What could be done:

If they’re not writing the full price of the meal on the menu they could at least write the prices with the taxes included (like they do in Europe). Getting into calculations and discussions about money after a heavy meal shouldn’t be a part of a relaxing evening with friends.

3. There is a Service Tax

What does it do:

This, unlike the VAT, can be summed up and left for the people to divide, but what this does is it makes people refrain from leaving a tip (and you do want a tip from a foreigner in India). Of course, there probably will be people who will leave a tip on top of the Service Tax, but with the interns I went out with there always was at least one who would remind everyone that they don’t need to leave anything, because they already paid the Service Tax.

What could be done:

This could left for the person to decide. Let the waiters ask or remind the people to leave a tip if you must (because they are probably doing this already), but taking money for servicing (what about the quality of service?) is just not nice from a foreigners point of view.

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3 thoughts on “Dining in India

  1. Hi,
    The service tax is not charged by the restaurant. Although it is collected by the restaurant/hotel. The monies collected are then paid to the GOI(Government of India) So the restaurant or the captain/waiter does not receive any extra money thanks to the service tax.

    And yes, you are expected to tip after all the taxes.

    I saw your bill, by now you would have realized staying in kolkatta there are much better places to eat, which are significantly cheaper. Although your stomach might not agree with it.

    • Thank you for your comment. Now I feel bad for all of those times I didn’t leave a tip, but still that doesn’t change the fact that the restaurant could include these taxes in the prices of the meals rather than listing them separately. The problem is not that we need to pay the taxes, but how we need to pay them.

      As for the places to eat, it’s the third week that I’m going to places where they serve delicious food for less than 50 INR a meal. The Dal Makhani that I get for 25 INR is much more tastier and healthier than the one in an expensive food court. I eat street food every day now and I’m happy to say that my stomach is fine 🙂

      • I agree, but restaurants are struggling with competition you would have noticed in the past two years the price of food has increased by a significant % and people are still inclined to have their meal below 100Rs. But Service tax itself is 12.5% so 12.5Rs there.
        Cafe’s/restaurants are doing that to appeal to rupee pinching consumer, I do think it’s false advertising though

        It’s good to know, you can stomach the indian masala.

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