Customers Face Potential Surprise Of COVID-19-Related Surcharges

Rachel Pierson
July 25, 2020 - 11:54 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Some Chicago customers are finding surprise surcharges on their bills because of COVID-19.

Customers reported that restaurants, dentists and other businesses added a surcharge to their bill to make up for extra costs or to cover added expenses like personal protection equipment. 

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Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois,  said the practice is legal as long as the price increases are reasonable and properly disclosed. But, he said it is still a little risky for business revenue if people are not aware of the surcharge. 

"Businesses do run a risk, even with small fees or losing customers," Bernas said in a statement. 

The City of Chicago also released a statement on the practices, saying that "a reasonable increase in prices due to COVID-19 can be acceptable."

"However, failure to disclose a price increase prior to purchase, or claiming that a charge added by the business is a tax, could be considered deceptive practices and would not be legal," the statement reads. 

Bernas said that despite these legal added fees, price gouging is still a problem seen during the pandemic and is illegal. 

If anyone feels the charges are excessive or unreasonable the Better Business Bureau said people should contact the BBB Scamtracker.