Hearings Continue on Bill Forcing Restaurants to Play Fair
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company, the Association of Restaurants of Puerto Rico, and the United Retailers Center testified on Thursday in the latest round of public hearings regarding Senate Bill 1557, which seeks to ban restaurants from the practice of charging service charges to consumers, in addition to the food fare and tips.
The bill, known as “Law for Sales Receipt Transparency” proposes banning commercial establishments from billing for services that are uncorroborated.
“This proposed bill comes from claims by the consumers themselves who have expressed opposition to the practice by some restaurants of imposing a service charge of up to 17%, without specifying which additional services are included in that charge,” said Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Luis Daniel Rivera Filomeno, who heads the upper chamber’s Labor Relations, Consumer Affairs and Employment Creation Committee. “What’s more, the fact that the charge is mandatory, instead of optional, turns the consumer into a hostage of that establishment.”
The measure states that the Department of Consumers Affairs (DACO for its acronym in Spanish) would be the agency tasked with implementing the resulting law, including levying a fine of $5,000 for each infraction.
While in a recent public hearing the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, through its interim president Héctor Mayol, opposed the measure, DACO officials favored the bill.