Service charge? Try COVID surcharge.
As businesses reopen around the country amid the coronavirus pandemic, there might be a hidden fee tucked at the bottom of your next brunch receipt.
Some places like dentists and restaurants have started to add COVID-19 charges to bills, the Miami Herald reported, in a move aimed to collect funds to cover the costs for protective gear and sanitation at places of business.
Vice reported how a Japanese restaurant in Missouri tacked on a $2.19 “COVID 19 Surcharge” to the bill of one customer, who tweeted a photo of the receipt. The restaurant – Kiko Japanese Steakhouse – issued a statement on Facebook explaining the charge covers the cost of increased costs on meat, seafood, and produce due to the pandemic.
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A children’s dentist office in Jacksonville, Florida implemented a $10 per patient co-payment which is aimed to make up the cost for masks and gloves, the Miami Herald reported. While it may cause some surprise, the fee was recommended by the American Dental Association recently.
“With more debt and typically lower incomes, new dentists have unique challenges and outlooks during the crisis,” according to a statement by the ADA, via the Miami Herald. “The ADA is urging third-party payers to alter their fees to account for the increasing cost of personal protective equipment that dentists are using to protect themselves, their staff and patients. Third-party benefit programs should either adjust the maximum allowable fees for all procedures or allow a standard fee per date of service per patient to accommodate the rising costs.”
CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman wrote in a column that inflation should be accepted as a means to make up costs, not surcharges.
“While few, if any, customers would be enthusiastic about paying more for any reason, cost increases seem to feel especially egregious when they’re itemized,” Rossman wrote. “They’re hard to miss when they’re right there on the receipt in black and white. Over time, higher prices are seen as a cost of doing business. You may not be excited about paying $3 more for a haircut, but I think most people are realistic about the fact that things cost more over time, and prices can’t stay the same forever.”