COVID-19 surcharge: Why some NC businesses are tacking on an extra fee to your bill

North Carolina news

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – You may see a “COVID-19” fee on some of your bills. This is something many businesses are doing to help cover extra expenses related to the pandemic.

A bill showing a COVID-19 surcharge (Photo: WECT)

Several businesses in the Wilmington area are doing this.

Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry has begun charging a $10 protective and safety fee to patients. That charge helps pay for equipment and gear that not only keep the employees safe and healthy, but the patients as well. Each time a patient needs to sign something, they keep the pen. Patients are given PPE, which has become more costly.

“That’s where the extra cost came in,” said Dr. Michelle Holmes, a dentist in one of Riccobene’s offices. “We see half as many patients as we normally do, we try to keep our waiting rooms as clean as we can with no people in. everyone is offered a mask if you don’t have one. We’re spending quite a bit more and not able to get return on that so we’re asking people to help out a little.”

Dr. Holmes says patients are aware of the fee prior to their appointment. If someone isn’t able to pay for the fee for whatever reason, she says they will work with them.

“We felt $10 was the cost of a burger and a drink and some fries,” said Dr. Holmes. “We figured that would be something that someone could hopefully find in their budget, but if they can’t we’re willing to work with them.”

Several other businesses in the Cape Fear are adding “COVID” fees. Adelaide’s Hair Salon in Wilmington is one of them.

“We came up with a fee of $5 extra,” said Jane Blank, one of the managers at the salon. “None of our clients haven’t had any problems with it. They have been most gracious I must say. Everyone’s needed their hair done, that’s for sure.”

Blank says she’s now having to purchase things that she wouldn’t normally and it’s not cheap.

“Masks, such as disposable masks for our clients, if they did not have them,” said Blank. “Hand sanitizer. Wipes. Disposable capes that our clients could wear.”

It’s not clear if businesses are required to give customers a heads up about the charge, but it can’t hurt to look at the bill closely or ask if there will be an extra COVID-19 related charge.

Copyright 2020 WECT. All rights reserved.

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