Can Businesses Charge a “COVID Tax?”

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Consumers have started to see an extra fee appear on their bills. Businesses are charging a “COVID tax” to compensate for extra costs caused by the pandemic. Is this legal?

Fees must be known ahead of time

Businesses are free to decide what price to charge. They can also decide to raise their prices. For example, they can increase prices to offset increased costs due to the health measures they must follow. However, consumers must always know the final price before being asked to pay for goods or services. If the “COVID tax” is charged when you pay and you were not aware beforehand, the tax is illegal.

This rule also applies to restaurants, hairdressers, mechanics, as well as all other shops.

You can refuse to pay illegal fees

You can refuse to pay extra fees if those fees were not announced beforehand. If the business doesn’t agree, you can file a complaint with the Office de la protection du consommateur (consumer protection office). You could get a refund for the extra fees you paid.