Fast food chains come under service charge ban

Fast food chains come  under service charge ban

Fast food chains will not be exempted when the Department of Economic Development in Dubai starts issuing fines against eateries levying service charges from February 1.

“Fines will start from Dh5,000 and will increase depending on the number of violations the restaurant or café commits,” said Mohammed Hilal Al Muroushedi, CEO, Commercial Compliance and Consumer Protection Division.

“The new laws apply to every café or restaurant, including fast food chains operating outside hotels or clubs. The size or type of café or restaurant will not bear any impact on the fine amount,” he told Khaleej Times.

“Dubai DED has not begun issuing fines. We have given cafés and restaurants a one-month grace period from the time of notification, which began in January, to remove this practice. Fines will begin to be issued in February,” said Al Muroushedi.

Following a number of requests from restaurant owners, the grace period is still being reviewed with the Ministry of Economy, which issued the rule banning service charges by non-tourist restaurants and cafés, the official said. “However, until further notice, traders will have one month to comply (with the law),” he said.

The ministry had announced fines up to Dh100,000 for violators of the rule. It had also exempted restaurants and cafés operating inside hotels from applying this rule as they are classified as “tourist businesses”.

Albeit the exemption from the rule banning service charges, he said, these restaurants and cafés are not allowed to charge more than the 10 per cent fee imposed by the Dubai Municipality.

Though restaurants and cafés operating outside hotels or clubs are not allowed to levy any additional charges including service charges, Al Muroushedi clarified that they are legally entitled to charge for delivery. “This law is related to service charges only, not that take-away (by customers themselves) should not incur any extra charges.”

He said a committee led by Director-General of the Ministry of Economy Mohammad Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehi, which has one representative from the economic development department of each emirate, would oversee the implementation of the rule, following complaints about up to 20 per cent of surcharges being levied by eateries in the UAE.

The DED is responsible for ensuring that restaurants and cafés licensed in Dubai adhere to the new regulations. Last week, Khaleej Times reported that the DED has started inspections in Dubai eateries, handing out a fresh notice which asked them to abide by the new regulation. The DED officials had also taken samples of menu to ensure that eateries do not hike the rates of dishes after they do away with service charges.

“Customers (who are charged extra) can complain to us by filling in an online complaints form on or by calling us directly on 04-2020220,” said Al Muroushedi.

Customers can also contact the Ministry of Economy, Department of Consumer Protection, by visiting

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