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Some restaurants around the United States are facing backlash for adding a “COVID-19 surcharge” to their customers’ meal tabs.
This means they’re essentially cannibalizing their own patrons (whose business they need to survive) by double-charging them.
However, these small-business owners in California, Missouri, and Florida say they need to charge these fees to stay afloat amid the one-size-fits-all corona lockdowns.
While some states have eased shutdowns and are slowly reopening, restaurants and other small businesses cannot operate at full capacity because of social-distancing guidelines. This severely slashes their profit margins.
The “COVID-19 surcharge” has shown up at numerous restaurants and other small businesses across the country, and was recently spotlighted after someone posted a receipt in a viral tweet.
The Twitter user tweeted: “Scuse me…A COVID surcharge?”
She was referencing a receipt from the Kiko Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri. She noted that “this isn’t my picture- I don’t know who posted this receipt.”
‘Scuse me … what? A covid surcharge…? pic.twitter.com/IYcrkcqIJ3
— Talia (@talialikeitis) May 11, 2020
Some Twitter users were annoyed that restaurants are imposing additional fees on their customers, whose patronage they rely on to stay in business. Others defended the restaurants, saying the COVID-19 surcharge is necessary.
WOW… they charging a Covid Surcharge in restaurants now????… pic.twitter.com/9pVyb2O7Ml
— Richardson Lane 💋 (@itsrichlane) May 15, 2020
Billy Yuzar, the owner of Kiko Japanese Steakhouse, says his eatery alerts customers about the surcharge online, at the cash register, and on the restaurant’s front door, so they’re not surprised.
“We have been transparent about it,” Yuzar told Fox News. “Right when you walk into our restaurant, it’s there.”
However, other businesses around the country have not been as transparent.
Kiko’s Steakhouse posted a message on Facebook saying the COVID surcharge is temporary. It also explained why the additional fees are necessary.
“Please understand we are not doing this to take advantage of you guys! We are doing this hoping we can adjust the surcharge weekly rather than just raise all of our prices on our menu due to increase prices from our supplier on meat, poultry, seafood and produce.
Almost all of us here getting our supply through the same supplier. So why are we the one that being harassed??!!
Because somewhere high up the food supply meat chain is broken and causing this prices going up!! Therefore we will take the surcharge off from our system. We truly apologize, we have to raise all of our prices!”
Kiko Japanese Steakhouse in Missouri is not the only restaurant adding these additional fees.
In San Diego, a Mexican restaurant announced that it was charging $1 extra for carne asada due to a meat shortage.
(Source: CBS 8 San Diego)
In Michigan, a hamburger eatery is added $1 COVID surcharge to each meal, to make up for the dramatically reduced foot traffic.
The same thing is happening in Florida. A dentist’s office in Jacksonville is charging a $10 appointment fee for personal protective equipment.
A local mom said: “I don’t feel that I’m required to pay that. How am I responsible for that?”
"I don’t feel that I’m required to pay that."
Are you seeing a COVID-19 surcharge at any Northeast FL or Southeast GA businesses? I talked to a Jacksonville mom who says she's seeing it at her kid's dentist office. Story at 6 on @ActionNewsJax pic.twitter.com/CP1YsVahfE
— Elizabeth Pace (@ElizabethPaceTV) May 14, 2020
In Texas, some hair salons have added a $3 sanitation charge and a COVID surcharge to “cover supply costs.” One Twitter user worried that these additional fees could become a permanent change.
The cost of reopening: Some businesses are adding a COVID-19 surcharge to help cover supply costs. Could this become a permanent change? A Local expert and business owner weigh in – tonight at 5pm & 6:30pm #abc13 @abc13houston pic.twitter.com/Fzk0Q0Fn5B
— Roxie Bustamante (@RoxieAbc13) May 14, 2020
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