CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Customers across the Carolinas have been surprised to find that some businesses are charging extra fees for COVID-19.
Some of those fees we found were at restaurants and even dentist offices and customers in both North and South Carolina have complained about being charged a COVID surcharge, but it’s really not being reported a lot.
One business owner tells me he’s not charging more, but understands the need.
“Uptown is a ghost town so it’s been a hard year, we’re down 71 percent,” Zach Edwards said.
Edwards owns a hair salon for men in Uptown. He’s not charging an extra fee to customers for COVID-related cleaning and PPE, but he understands why some businesses are.
“If you want your favorite spots to be there in another year, you need to support them. Nobody is getting rich off these surcharges. Nobody is making any money this year in the service industry especially,” he said.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs says it has only received two complaints recently about extra COVID fees.
One was a restaurant in Chapin is charging $0.99 a dish for a COVID PPE charge. Another other complaint was a dentist office in Greenville charging $99 for additional PPE during a dental procedure.
Both complaints were resolved with the customers and North Carolina has only received a handful of complaints—most of which were against dental offices.
The Attorney General’s office tells us the fees are allowed in some cases as long as advanced notice is given and the AG’s office has not taken any action in North Carolina.
“I know we’ve heard just generally that there are businesses that are doing COVID surcharges, in general just because of disinfecting and having to by different things. Usually those are on your receipt if you do want to look for it,” the AG’s office said.
What many people are wondering is if this is even legal and in short, it’s a gray area.
This kind of charge can be different from price gouging, which is illegal, and South Carolina had one case with a surcharge, which they referred to the attorney general as a possible price-gouging situation.
North Carolina says generally speaking, passing on a fee is allowed as long as consumers get notice in advance.
You can always reach out to the Attorney General’s Office in North Carolina and the Department of Consumer Affairs in South Carolina if you have questions.