High-end SD restaurants poised to add surcharge for “government mandated” costs to business
By Anna Daniels
Over the past ten years consumers have absorbed higher costs at the check-out counter for all manner of goods. Remember when gasoline costs spiked and affected more than gas at the pump? Everything from the potted plants at the local nursery to grocery items reflected an attendant price increase. Remember when the cost of coffee went up? What about the shortage of cheese and how that was reflected in higher consumer costs?
These consumer cost increases reflect everything from volatility in the commodity market to shortages caused by natural disasters to price fixing. We weren’t handed restaurant checks or grocery bills with a surcharge added for “free market” or “act of god” or “corporate greed.”
So why are some San Diego restaurants considering a surcharge on bills to cover the most recent “government mandated” wage hike which raises the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour?
Will San Diegans reflexively embrace the pernicious subtext that people working in service industries don’t deserve a livable wage?
The corollary to this is that San Diegans should question the legitimacy of government in the provision of correctives to the growing inequality created by the free market.
The proposed surcharge is a covert way of injecting Conservative and Libertarian ideology into your dining experience–the damn government has its fingers in everything! my waiter is probably making more an hour than I do! let the free market decide!
We’ve been here before. When the Affordable Care Act was implemented, restaurant franchise owners tacked an Obamacare surcharge on customer bills. Customers unhappy with the surcharge were encouraged by one franchise owner to reduce the amount of tip for their server. Is that the point of the proposed surcharge, to put the squeeze on your server?
Restaurants have and do raise their prices, but it is only when prices are affected by mandated wage or employee benefit increases that the surcharge delineation kicks in. High end restaurants are expected to lead the way on this–George’s at the Cove has already added a “3% surcharge in support of local and state mandates.” Note the clever use of “in support”. Noblesse oblige is alive and well.
What does it say about us if affluent people with discretionary income to spend on a high end restaurant find it potentially off-putting that their dining experience is going to cost 3% more in order to pay the people who are serving them a livable wage?
Progressives shouldn’t go along with this
What do you intend to do if you go to a restaurant and find this surcharge on your bill? Will you ask to speak with the manager and say 1) the people who work for you have the right to a livable wage and I support that; 2) if you need to raise your prices to absorb rising costs, for whatever reason, please do so and let me decide whether I can afford to patronize your restaurant.
Are you willing to take a stand on this?
Update Friday January 6
“A new meal surcharge isn’t sitting well with local diners and now it is raising legal concerns.
The City Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that it is looking into the legality of a surcharge being levied on some restaurant customers in response to San Diego’s minimum wage increase…
City Attorney Mara Elliott said the investigation was launched after complaints about the practice were received on a consumer hotline. The added cost was not made known to customers beforehand and was falsely billed as being mandated by the government, she said.