HOUSTON - Have you noticed you're paying more at some restaurants, hair salons, or for shipping? Many businesses are charging COVID-19 surcharges to cover the cost of cleaning and supplies.
You can expect to see COVID-19 surcharges on your receipts through this winter. In fact, expect to see them in more businesses.
Go to many restaurants, hair, or nail salons, you might see a few extra dollars on your bill. Some dentist offices charge an extra $20 to $30.
These are COVID-19 surcharges to cover the cost of extra cleaning, facemasks, and shields, or even to make up lost revenue during the shutdown.
UPS and FedEx say they'll charge companies that ship high volumes of packages, such as Amazon and Target, a few extra dollars a box from mid-November to mid-January, when they expect more people to shop online. Whether retailers will pass those fees on to customers is yet to be determined.
"34% of our respondents thought it was never fair to charge a COVID-19 surcharge. 47% believed it was fair in some cases, and only 20% said yes all the time," said Aly Russo with FinanceBuzz.
But they found nearly 30% of respondents said paying a restaurant surcharge means they'll leave food servers smaller tips. That's a blow for some of the already hard-hit workers who lost income when restaurants were forced to close.
So how much extra are you willing to pay for a surcharge?
"At a restaurant, the average was 9.53%, which we thought was pretty high. Then we asked for a dollar amount for a hair salon or a barbershop, and the average was $7.86 for a surcharge," said Russo.
But a problem creeps up when businesses don't tell customers to expect the charge.
"38% of our respondents weren't told about a surcharge until after they made a purchase or made a reservation. So there's definitely a lack of communication or being transparent from the business owner perspective," said Russo.
Customers can ask a business whether they have a COVID-19 surcharge if you don't see one posted. Some establishments will let you decline the charge if you don't wish to pay it because they don't want to lose your business.