Welcome to Pakistan, Ladies and gentlemen. The Land of the Pure, where the corrupt (supposedly) are only in government office. This article aims at exposing (and in turn teaching the reader how to legally counter sue) restaurants and businesses that are overcharging tax on credit and debit card transactions, nationwide.
Lets start with the most recent culprit, Nandos. We are all too well aware of our favorite grilled chicken recipe and how we have all learned to love and relish it, especially the team at my office. After having nearly spent a decade being their loyal customers, their staff (at Nandos gulberg lahore) has given new meaning to their marketing tagline ‘Now remove all the evidence’, as eloquently put on their tissue papers.
After a usual eatout celebration of our most recent win (9/21/2020, 2 to 2:30 pm approx), we received a bill for 16% GST (which is completely normal for a cash payment). As always I put my SCB card in for the payment, asking the service boy to adjust GST as per the amendment for PRA for current fiscal (5% or electronic payments, circular attached at the end of the blog, page 57, point #1). Instead of complying like all the other restaurants, the amazing service professional decided to teach me how the tax regime works, insisting that ‘he had not received any circular stating the same’. Upon my polite rebuttal on the same, that the govt. of Punjab/pk has already stated this in writing and made it public, his next defense was ‘his management has not instructed him regarding this, and there is no circular from nandos management instructing the branch to do the same’. Therefore, his 16% slip was justified. I once again politely told him if that is the case, he needs to put up a paper notice at the ENTRANCE of the restaurant that says they charge GST at 16%, before booking orders, or verbally tell me that prior to booking my order, so I can make an informed decision. He blatantly replied ‘aapko poochna chahiyey tha, yeh mera kaam nai hai k mein aapko bataoon’. So i need to ask this dude what the taxation is, and not the government, before making an order.
At this point, I decided to take this issue to the grave. I asked him to call his manager, and the rest is as per the video below. Please note that the manager appeared after 15 minutes, and the ‘so called manager’ named asif was actually another serving boy who decided to take a hit in the chest for his upstanding citizen of an employer.
Click here for full video.
Summarizing, I will be writing an official letter to the PRA regarding this illegal taxation being done by this restaurant, followed by a writ in high court if the letter is not responded to within 7 days. No restaurant in the country has the right to implement its own tax regime. I implore the PRA to take strict measures to ensure that the taxation regime implemented is transparent and effective, with any such overstatement/tax evasion or revenue booking in the name of tax is punishable in a court of law. I would also request that a physical notice be sent to Nandos gulberg lahore, with the evidence attached so that this cannot happen with other citizens and their hard earned money.
Lastly, I would humbly request business owners, not to teach their employees to lie to their customers to save them money. As you can clearly see in the video, the poor guy has no choice but to lie to keep his job. If your decade old customer is not buying this BS, how to you expect to create a brand image or customer retention when your basic brief to your staff is ‘tell them we have not received any such information from our management’. Seriously? and you expect people to buy this?
Apologies to nandos owners in advance for any discrepancies caused, your customer base does expect a response from you in this regard.
Looking forward to an amicable amendment of this so called customer policy prior to legal action. None of us want to see our favorite restaurant chain in a legal battle against the state law.
Also, would exhort all readers to follow the same protocol for all such instances for improper tax representation by restaurants (LHE).
- If you are paying by card, request receipt change to 5% GST.
- If the brand doesn’t comply, keep a copy of the 16% receipt with you, make a video with the representative saying that this is the right tax etc. and PLEASE DON’T PAY unless the taxation is fixed, its your right as a citizen of state to discourage and report this practice.
- Submit the details to the PRA head office with a cover letter, under the following postal dispatch details:
4-B, Danepur Road, GOR-1, Lahore
- Submit an E-copy of all aforementioned at eSupport@pra.punjab.gov.pk
- If you do not receive a response in 7 days, you can file a writ for the same (along with dispatch receipts sent to PRA) in high court. Usually it wont come to #5. But if it does, feel free to send the same to me (electronic) at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have a lot of free time and money on my hands to do this kinda stuff, the more the collateral, the better the case.
Finally, keeping in mind the fact that nandos still is our favorite restaurant, I’d like to give the nandos team a benefit of doubt for 48 working hours prior to escalating to PRA with this. Anyone within their marketing/ops teams, feel free to contact me at the given email address. Request is simple, issue a nationwide apology and reinforce the correct tax regime on all your branches, so we can continue to enjoy our chicks unfettered – no briefcases required.
Finally, please note that as a citizen, turning a blind eye to these small things is what’s destroying our country in the first place. Corruption spreads not only by the doer, but also because of the silent majority. You are as much to blame for this as the guy doing it, don’t let it happen, invest some time daily to make things better around you.
Questions and comments welcome, May Allah help us be a source of positive for our country and those around us. Link to PRA tax circular here. (Page 57, pointer #1)