Some businesses still adding ‘COVID fees’ to customer purchases

Reporter: Taylor Smith Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

A Collier County restaurant recently left a sign out for customers to warn them about its pandemic surcharge. We’ve reported on these “COVID fees” previously, when the pandemic first impacted businesses. But most of them are back to full capacity now.

We looked at why some businesses such as New York Pizza & Pasta in Collier County still have customers on the hook for surcharges during the pandemic Wednesday.

“I was flabbergasted last night,” Tracy Kelly said.

Kelly and Fredrick Mahone were not happy to get a bill that was 7% more than expected.

“Eight dollars isn’t much, but for someone who hasn’t worked since March, it’s a lot,” Mahone said. “All these unnecessary surcharges has to stop.”

Some restaurants and businesses are still requiring a “COVID fee,” saying it’s needed for extra cleaning and supplies.

A local lawyer told us restaurants have the right to require these surcharges.

“If a restaurant wants to charge you for coming in the door, they can do that,” attorney Lance Dunford. “If you go into a restaurant and you see employees wearing gloves and masks they weren’t given to them, someone paid for them, and that cost is getting forwarded to us the consumer.”

But Mahone says it needs to be better advertised.

“It should be on tables across the bar,” Mahone said. “When you sit down, it’s the first thing to see. It shouldn’t be snuck upon you.”

Some think the charge is helping businesses get back on their feet.

“These restaurants have been hit really hard during this,” Steve Tracy said. “They need to recoup some of their profits somehow to stay afloat.”

Still, others want the prices to go back to normal.

“Look, I know all the restaurants were struggling at some point,” Chris Frusci said. “But now they are just using it as an excuse at this point.”

We asked New York Pizza & Pasta why it continues to add a surcharge, but it was not able to comment.

Dunford told us it’s ultimately up to the business when and if it will end the surcharges.

“I would like to know when is it going to stop,” Kelly said. “Is it going to go to Walmart, and they sit there to add on to clean their stores or Publix. Where’s the end?”

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