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RBI says that moviegoers don’t have to pay ‘internet handling fee’ while booking tickets online

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India and movies is a love affair which will never end. A weekend plan is always a perfect one when it spent watching a dramatic Bollywood movie. Entertainment is taken very seriously in India and Bollywood stars are treated as a god. The country does not flinch and is always looking for a movie after movie. India is a country which produces over 1000 films every year, which is a record in itself. This tells us how crazy the country is.

Previously, there used to be movie theatres,single-screen movie theatres, where one movie would run once. Tickets were sold at counters and nothing was done online. However, multiplexes came, multiple movies screened at a single time, seats became important, recliners were preferred and everything changed. The movie-going experience suddenly went on a different level altogether. With that experience, the ticket prices and the mode of booking also became different.

As discussed, movie tickets were sold at counters but everything became online and people could compare prices with other cinema halls. The consumers could select their own seats, the availability became known to them, the applications would tell them how the movie is doing and it became a lot easier. However, the companies which offer all these services were and are charging a fee. When you book a ticket for a certain movie, you have to pay a convenience charge of INR 60 and GST charges on top your ticket prices. This fee is charged by BookMyShow.

This price varies from platform to platform. If there was such a charge, one should be charged a similar amount but Paytm charges INR 40 as the convenience fee as opposed to BookMyShow. PVR, on the other hand, charged a staggering INR 141 with INR 21 as GST.

Apps such as BookMyShow, Paytm, and PVR Cinemas still charge the ‘internet handling fee’ which is actually to be bored by these merchants. MDR, Merchant Discount Rate is something merchants are supposed to pay the banks for accepting payments from the customers. However, these applications are charging that fee onto the consumers terming it as ‘internet handling fee’.

This came to light when RTI query was lodged to the Reserve Bank of India by Sanjay Gopal, who happens to be the President of ‘Forum Against Corruption’. RBI, therefore said that online ticket aggregators do not hold the right to charge any kind of fee as they are not authorized to do so. It also said that, if any such charge is levied then a complaint can be lodged to RBI. It further stated that these companies are violating the law of Merchant Discount Rate (MDR).

-Unmesh Phule

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