Hidden fees continue to show up at restaurants


A 'kitchen appreciation' surcharge? Okay, what’s next?

Ever heard the expression, “They will get you coming and going?” The next time you’re at a restaurant or do carryout or delivery, take a look at your bill. Odds are that you’ll see a fee that you don’t expect. 

And this isn’t something a handful of restaurants are doing, either. A recent National Restaurant Association report said that 16% of restaurant operators are adding surcharges to checks.

These surcharges don’t have a single moniker, either. According to graphics provided by the Coalition, there are surcharges for:

  • dining in
  • employee benefits
  • health insurance for staff
  • kitchen appreciation
  • fair-wages

and possibly, some who are trying to still get away with...

  • COVID-19 surcharges

“No one is opposed to supporting the employees at our favorite restaurants, but surely, we can all agree that restaurant owners need to be upfront about the hidden fees they are passing along to consumers,” a spokesperson for the Electronic Payments Coalition told ConsumerAffairs.

“Instead of focusing on new credit card mandates – despite credit card interchange remaining essentially flat for nearly a decade, unlike all those sneaky restaurant fees – Congress should pass a Truth in Lending Act for restaurants and call it the Truth in Dining Act so Americans on a budget know exactly what they are going to pay before the bill shows up.”

A 12% added fee?

Some consumers have taken to social media to rail against the offending restaurants. Recently, TheTakeout reported that Reddit users in Chicago and Los Angeles have been putting together spreadsheets of local restaurants that impose these fees, including a story about a Chicagoland restaurant that charged an additional 12% fee. 

“They did not put it on the menu or online. In fact, they tried to take payment without showing me the receipt. When I asked for a receipt, they only showed me the list of charges on a handheld tablet,” wrote one consumer who wanted others to be aware of what was happening. 

“When I saw the charge, I spoke with the manager and said that the practice was deceptive, scummy, and likely illegal. I had to pay it though and they only provided a short form receipt.”

Think this is nonsense?

If you think this whole fee thing is nonsense, you do have choices besides grinning and bearing it. For one thing, with a simple phone call, you should inquire about fees before you ever go to the restaurant. You can also ask the server or manager if it’s possible to have the fee removed, especially if the fee was not disclosed beforehand. 

If there are people up in arms on Reddit, there are probably others on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al, so don’t be shy about raising the point if it happens to you.

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