Dentists and hair salons are adopting COVID-19 surcharges even after backlash in the restaurant industry
Salons, dentists, and other businesses are adopting a strategy that landed some restaurants in hot water earlier this month.
Some of these businesses are adding surcharges to customers’ bills to cover extra costs that are piling up as they reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“The cost of reopening includes all the extra supplies that we need and all the cleaning supplies that we need,” Rachel Gower, owner of Houston-based Upper Hand Salon, told local ABC affiliate KTRK. The salon is adding a $3 “sanitation charge” to guests’ checks.
She added: “It’s worth it! It’s absolutely worth it!”
Restaurants across the country faced backlash from customers earlier in May after some instituted a “COVID-19 surcharge” in response to rising food prices, especially for meat products that have been affected by shutdowns of processing plants.
Kiko Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge in West Plains, Missouri, ultimately said it would remove surcharges and instead raise menu prices as its employees experienced harassment at the hands of frustrated customers. Photos of receipts showing the surcharge had circulated widely on social media.
Citing a recent survey commissioned by American Express, CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman wrote that implementing a surcharge could have the unintended consequence of damaging a business’ reputation and making customers feel unappreciated.
Businesses trying to keep the lights on amid the pandemic might be better off raising prices across the board, he wrote.
“Whether we’re talking COVID, health insurance, or credit cards, trying to raise revenue with an itemized surcharge is a turn-off for customers, and any short-term benefit to the merchant is greatly outweighed by the longer-term consequences of offending the people who pay the bills,” Rossman wrote.