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Restaurants’ new added-on fees confuse diners and even employees

    Restaurant added-on fees

    Lately, I’ve noticed that when I purchase a movie ticket, there are additional fees unless I pay a monthly fee of $9.99 to have the handling charge waived. Businesses are trying new methods to recover from the impact of the pandemic. Restaurants, in particular, have been severely affected and are facing financial difficulties. I’ve also noticed that service charges are being added without explanation. If this trend continues, customers may become frustrated and speak out against these unreasonable fees. Should we be using our generosity to support the restaurant industry during their difficult times?

    It is evident that the charges are aimed at providing support to the restaurant industry, which has always operated on narrow profit margins. The industry is currently grappling with several challenges, such as inflation, shortage of labor, and the need to provide better wages and benefits to its workers, as mandated by the rising minimum wages.

    For restaurateurs, these service charges offer some flexibility. Gratuities are tightly regulated by law and can be distributed only to tipped workers. A service charge belongs to the employer, who can choose how to spend it, said Brian Pollock, an employment lawyer in Miami.

    “If we didn’t have the service charge, we might be out of business in a couple of weeks,” said Graham Painter, who last year added a 22 percent charge at Street to Kitchen, a Thai restaurant in Houston that he runs with his wife, the chef Benchawan Jabthong Painter.

    Despite that difference, many diners still conflate service charges with tips, he said. “It is a fundamental misunderstanding that nobody clarifies.” (New York Times)