You don’t have to pay extra while booking a movie ticket online through a mobile app or website, Reserve Bank of India clarified via an RTI reply. Acting upon the RTI query Vijay Gopal, president of ‘Forum Against Corruption’ a body fighting against corruption has moved consumer court in Hyderabad against BookMyShow, PVR, and the Department of Information Technology. The case is scheduled to be heard on March 23.
What does the law say on internet handling fee?
If you are one of those who paid the extra ‘internet handling fee’ while booking tickets online, this is for you. The RBI in an RTI query recently stated that online platforms through which movie tickets are booked do not hold the authority to levy handling fees from customers. The reply further explains that this is in violation of the RBI’s Merchant Discount Rate (MDR) regulations.
What is MDR?
MDR is basically cost paid by a merchant to a bank for accepting payment from its customers via credit or debit cards every time a card is used in their stores. This essentially means that it is the merchant/trader who has to pay the MDR and not the customer. Therefore levying ‘internet handling fee’ on customers is in violation of the MDR regulations and therefore illegal.
While talking to The Logical Indian, RTI activist Vijay Gopal explains that if someone is booking a ticket through an app for a movie show in PVR cinemas, then it is the PVR which is supposed to pay MDR and not the customer. “The customer should only pay for services and not for MDR,” Gopal adds. Gopal alleges that BookMyShow is constantly helping theatres to gain profit.
TLI Breaks down The Internet Handling Fees
When we (The Logical Indian team) tried to Book a ticket through the BookMyShow website at Cinepolis: Orion East Mall, Bangalore, we found that a consumer was had to pay Rs 31.86 extra as “Internet Handling Fees”. So if the original price of the ticket is 236 rupee, consumers ended up paying 268.86 rupees.
Here is the break down of the internet handling fee:
Not just BookMyShow
Claiming that this practice is spreading, Goyal alleges, “ Various cab services and food delivery apps like Swiggy are following the footsteps of BookMyShow”. He further said that we as citizens should come together and fight against such malpractices. Goyal also questioned the Ministry of Electronics for failing to keep a track of the violation of RBI’s MDR regulations.
“It seems that Ministry of Electronics is blindfolded by someone on this issue,” he adds.
What can citizens do?
The RBI in the RTI reply said that those who wish to complain about the customer service offered by such RBI regulated entities can do so by visiting https://rbi.org.in/scripts/complaints.aspx. To report a violation by a merchant, one will have to approach the specific bank that was used by the merchant to make the transaction. It further said that if the bank fails to take action within 30 days or the bank’s response is not satisfactory, the concerned customer can approach the Banking Ombudsman.