Sleep Inn Beaver - Beckley
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

First Restaurants. Are Hotels and Airlines Next? 2019 Novel Coronavirus Surcharge

I warned in this article to watch your bill before paying it when you dine out at a restaurant, as some dining establishments have started a disturbing trend of adding a 2019 Novel Coronavirus surcharge on the checks of their customers…

First Restaurants. Are Hotels and Airlines Next? 2019 Novel Coronavirus Surcharge

…but could lodging companies and airlines be next?

Hotel and resort properties have become notorious in charging ancillary fees — mandatory resort fees being the most loathsome — although airlines are not far behind with their carrier-imposed surcharges…

…but with all of the cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting, increased distancing between people, and a surfeit of vacant rooms over the past several months — all of which cost money — who do you think is ultimately going to pay for all of that?

The answer to the question as to whether lodging companies and airlines could be next to add a 2019 Novel Coronavirus surcharge on the bills of their customers is no, as the office of a dentist in Jacksonville has reportedly been charging patients ten extra dollars per appointment to cover the cost of personal protective equipment; and some hair salons in Houston have reportedly started adding a sanitation charge of three dollars for each customer.


The supply chain of many industries worldwide has been severely disrupted to the point that companies are scrambling to recover as a result of what I always have considered to be a gross overreaction to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic

…but when greater than 38 million people in the United States alone are unemployed only within the past two months — and that does not include people who were already unemployed prior to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic; nor does that include self-employed people, owners of small companies, and freelancers who are suffering from a substantial loss of business — is implementing a potentially misleading surcharge really the answer?

When I earned my Master of Business Administration degree, I must have missed the part which connotes that the way to win back customers after your business suffered substantially due to an unprecedented worldwide event — such as the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — is to impose draconian measures on them in an attempt to drain their wallets and purses as much as possible.

I am not opposed to a business earning enough revenue to enjoy a profit; but if I receive a bill at a restaurant — or any other type of business, for that matter — which did not disclose that it charges a mandatory fee due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic but includes it at the end of the meal, I will not pay it. Period. End of story.

The hard truth is that if a restaurant, lodging company, airline — or virtually any business, for that matter — cannot find ways to afford to survive which are not considered deceptive, then it should go out of business. That may sound harsh; but although exceptions may come to mind, the free market forces of supply and demand — as well as what customers are willing to pay for a product or service — should ultimately determine whether a company should stay in business.

Regardless of the reason, imposing mandatory surcharges on unsuspecting customers is flat out wrong and is no different than mandatory resort fees and their ilk which are automatically added to the folios of guests of hotel and resort properties.

Lodging companies have been known to not only charge mandatory resort fees — or destination fees or similar mandatory fees — but they have also been known to sneak in other fees during the best of times. Back in December of 2019, I was automatically charged a fee for the use of a safe which I never used; and yet, the hotel property even had the nerve to disclaim that they are not responsible for valuables kept in the safe — despite charging that deceptive and worthless fee…

…which causes me to wonder just how far they will go in charging fees to their guests now that times are not so good.


The bottom line is that if a lodging company, airline, or other business entity needs additional revenue, be honest: simply raise prices for its products and services. Adding a 2019 Novel Coronavirus surcharge on the bills of customers is deceptive at best and is no better than mandatory resort fees.

That I vehemently oppose the implementation of mandatory resort fees, facilities fees and destination fees is no secret to you if you have been a reader of The Gate for years — they should either be optional or eliminated altogether — and I will just let this extensive body of work over the years pertaining to mandatory resort fees speak for me…

Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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