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Could you be paying new fees because of COVID-19?

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Posted at 12:45 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 07:32:51-04

PHOENIX — With more businesses looking to return to normal, customers should be concerned about how that new normal could impact the prices they pay.

As part of our Rebound Arizona coverage -- making sure businesses are doing right by consumers -- the Let Joe Know team took a look at a new COVID-19 surcharge and if it's even legal.

In the past, hotels have tacked on resort fees to cover costs of internet bills and fitness center upkeep.

Restaurants added a surcharge to make up for minimum wage increases, and now a Valley business is adding a new fee due to the coronavirus.

CUSTOMERS SPOT NEW FEES

"I went in. I said, 'Are you serious? You're charging $6 extra just because of COVID,'" Shelly said about her nail salon in Buckeye.

The business posted a sign when they reopened last week, saying they were adding a $6 fee due to an increase in supply costs.

"It's unfair to their customers, and especially their regular customers who have been going there for years," Shelley said.

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"Whatever their financial reasons are for doing it, it shouldn't be put upon us," said Shelly.

When the Let Joe Know team talked to one of the owners, he says they had just opened for the first time. He says they had to navigate supply chains impacted by COVID-19 and they added the surcharge to make up for those added costs.

The owner said while they are no longer charging that fee, they will be adjusting prices in the near future.

CAN BUSINESSES TACK ON THESE CHARGES?

Can they call them COVID surcharges? We asked the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

They tell us that while each case is different, if a business is upfront about these costs -- meaning they have it posted or tell you about it before you receive any services -- it can be legal.

They say customers have to be given the choice to pay the costs or not receive a service.

As for Shelly, she says she hopes more businesses don't follow suit.

"It's sad to say, I don't want this to be the new normal," said Shelly.

Now the AG's Office says, if you find a surcharge after the fact, if it shows up on a receipt and you weren't told about it, you should contact their office.

You can do that HERE.