What’s That on My Bill?

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The situation is dire. You’ve lost the $600.00 dollars per week unemployment insurance assistance and received an eviction notice in the mail. Perhaps you did’t think it could get worse until surcharges showed up on your dental bill. What are these surprise charges and are they permitted?

Surcharges

Some businesses have decided to pass on coronavirus expenses to consumers in the form of surprise surcharges. The surcharges represent additional cost such as for personal protection equipment (PPE). In some instances your bill may say “surcharges” on it, in other cases it may actually identify the charge as “Covid-19” or the cashier may inform you of the surcharges before you purchase the item.  It’s your money so look for these surprise charges on your bill.

Permitted

Several jurisdictions generally recognize these additional costs as permitted under both federal and state laws. Some businesses are charging a percentage of the total cost as a surcharge, while others are charging amounts ranging from $3.00 through $20.00.

Now back to our dire situation in the beginning. Can those who are struggling without continued financial assistance afford additional surcharges on necessary food supplies while on low income or unemployment? What about those who purchase items on credit with the additional surcharges included on the bill? How much longer will it take them to pay off their credit card with those additional surcharges given their credit cards APR interest rate?

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