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What you need to know about new COVID-19 surcharges

HOUSTON – The cost of doing business safely during the pandemic is going up. Some businesses are passing those costs along to their customers. Your receipt may show “COVID-19” or “sanitation surcharge.”

Businesses can call it what they want and you have a right to ask exactly what you’re paying for.

“I think a lot of businesses are going to run into hot water with their customers when they add these surcharges,” explained Bankrate.com’s Tedd Rossman.” “A lot of times, it’s a surprise. It feels like a ‘Gotcha.‘”

Rossman said businesses should tell customers about any new charges before the service. Likewise, you can and should ask if there are any new fees before you book a service or appointment. We asked Houston consumers what COVID surcharges they’ve encountered. The three industries charging extra seem to be nail and hair salons and restaurants. Businesses have a slew of new expenses related to the virus. They are footing the bill for everything from plexiglass barriers between customers and employees to masks and gloves for all employees and patrons. Many restaurants have seen food prices increase and they are challenged to serve half as many people because of government restrictions on capacity and spacing between tables. The fees charged by businesses range from $2 at nail and hair salons to $35 at dentist offices. That is why you should ask a business before you sit down and schedule an appointment on how much they are adding to your bill for COVID-19 related materials and costs.

The $2 extra at the nail salon probably won’t break the bank, but $35 extra for each child at the dentist may have you looking for a new dentist who isn’t charging as much.