As new information comes to show Philadelphia as the largest county to take the worst coronavirus hit, businesses are hurriedly adding Covid-19 surcharges to receipts. This is large because Philadelphia’s economy relies heavily on the success of small businesses. The pandemic sadly had a huge impact on them.
The solution to recovery, in the minds of such business owners, is by charging additional fees from their customers. With the opening of small businesses across the country, Covid-19 surcharges will be found on bills and receipts countrywide.
Ted Rossman, a CreditCards.com industry analyst says he has noticed surcharges appearing on service type businesses, restaurants, dentist offices, and hair salons.
Some surcharges are enough to blow a hole in your pocket. As a report goes, one restaurant in Chicago put up 26% Covid-19 surcharges in May, saying they were experiencing increased costs. Later the owners of the place admitted to receiving great backlash on social media. The push from social media criticism got the restaurant to lower it down to 17%
A salon in Houston like many others has put up a $3 sanitation charge. They justify the charge saying the salons have been paying thousands of dollars in getting their employees trained for safety on top of the usual cost of supplies.
Many businesses are forced to add further charges to put in place safety measures like personal protective gear for their workers and supplies to sanitize their environments to make them safer.
From the currently available information, Texas dentists are charging Covid-19 surcharges in the form of a $20 infection control fee per patient. A Missouri restaurant put up a surcharge of 5% to cover climbing prices of food.
In their defense businesses are pointing out the incurred large-scale losses they have had. Fewer customers chose to visit them due to guidelines of social distancing and to make matters worse they had to close for several months.
Rossman highlights a better way to save businesses from their huge losses, he says they need to raise prices instead of adding surcharges as it is better accepted by customers. He says customers like to pay one solid price on their receipt instead of feeling betrayed by additional cut down charges.
Businesses however contest that their surcharges are consumer-friendly contrary to public opinion. They say this because such surcharges are temporary and will be removed once they find their feet again.
Rossman says he understands that businesses just want to place a temporary increase in their fees instead of making them permanent. He says their intentions are good but they may not be very effective for their customers.
People ask if surcharges are legal and the truth is that they are as long as the fees being charges are concisely disclosed and known to the customers.
Linda Sherry, Consumer Action’s director of national priorities advises people to call ahead of time and enquire if they have any Covid-19 surcharges added to their fees. She says it is wiser to carry out personal research on brands and businesses and finding any similar services or products that offer a fee that you are happier with.
While it is a good habit to look around, Michelle Couch-Friedman, executive director at Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit consumer advocacy organization, warns that specific areas in the country have fixed standard fees currently. She says depending on the consumer’s location you might struggle to search for a restaurant or salon that has not already added a surcharge.
Advice for consumers stands between complaining against surcharges if they disagree or going elsewhere to find more businesses with an agreeable fee.