Watch Out for Surcharges

Following up on my post about businesses establishing minimum purchase amounts when paying with a credit card, I want to continue my pro-consumer rant a bit longer by pointing out that businesses are also prohibited from charging any sort of “energy surcharge”.

The PA Attorney General has already spoken out on the matter.  Put simply, some businesses are advertising a service or product at a given price, then tacking on a “fuel fee” on the final invoice to help deflate rising energy costs.  For example, if Discount Donny’s Rug-O-Rama offers to steam your carpets for $100, they can’t hand you a $110 invoice for $100 in services plus a $10 “fuel surcharge”.  They must advertise the service at $110.

Of course, a company can raise their prices to cover increasing expenses.  That’s just fine.  But they simply can not promise service at one rate and then surprise you with a boatload of surcharges and mystery fees when it comes time for the bill.

That’s a right reserved exclusively for Verizon.

EDIT:  To clarify, a business can charge you a fuel surcharge.  If Rug-O-Rama advertises that they’ll steam your carpets for $100, and your final invoice shows “Carpet steaming: $90, Fuel charge: $10”, that’s okay, because the final amount equals the amount advertised.  If your invoice read “Carpet steaming: $100, Fuel charge: $10”, then you would have a problem to discuss with Discount Donny’s.