Businesses must clearly communicate extra pandemic-related fees to customers, AG says

Attorney General Daniel Cameron offered guidance to businesses who are considering adding surcharges to their goods or services due to COVID-19.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Attorney General Daniel Cameron is offering guidance to businesses who may consider adding fees to their goods or services to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a press release issued Tuesday, the attorney general acknowledged that some businesses may implement surcharges to offset the costs of COVID-19 preparations and precautions, including increased cleaning, reduced staffing and fewer customers.

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“Kentucky’s businesses are making an incredible effort to protect customers from COVID-19 while also trying to remain open and financially viable during these uncertain times,” Cameron said.

However, if a business chooses to charge COVID-19-related fees, Cameron said the business must inform the customer of those fees.

According to Cameron, any surcharge a business chooses to add must adhere to consumer protection laws and follow these guidelines:

  • Surcharges must be clearly communicated through marketing materials and during ordering or purchasing processes before the customer makes a purchase.
  • Surcharges must reflect a “reasonable” expense for the business
  • A business cannot profit from a surcharge
  • A surcharge must be itemized on a bill or receipt and cannot be labeled as a “tax.”

“Our hope is that this guidance will help businesses understand current consumer protection laws and ensure they have the tools they need to navigate this process,” he said.

If anyone believes a business in Kentucky is not following the surcharge guidelines, they are encouraged to report it to the Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protections at 1-888-432-9257. Consumer complaints can also be submitted online.

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