WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Washington D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb Shared a press release on March 7. In it, he details the types of deceptive fees restaurants are barred from charging.

“You have dinner at a local DC restaurant with your family. You plan to pay the price listed on the menu, sales tax, and a tip. But when your bill comes at the end of the meal, there’s a vague 20% fee added on that you didn’t expect. How do you know if the fee is going to service workers? Are restaurants allowed to charge fees without telling you? “

Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

According to The District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act: District residents are entitled to complete and accurate information whenever they purchase goods or services. This means restaurants must be upfront about the total cost of dining.

This doesn’t mean that restaurants cannot charge additional fees. It does mean that any fees must be clearly disclosed upfront, and must be used exclusively for accurately described purposes.

In short: a business may not falsify or obscure any charges from the customer. The consumer has the right to know exactly what they will be paying before enjoying their meal.

If a restaurant does any of the following, it is illegal in the District of Columbia:

  • Bury fees in fine print.
  • Fail to disclose the amount or percentage of a fee until after goods/services are used/consumed.
  • Use fees collected for purposes other than those explicitly disclosed.
  • Use ambiguous or misleading language to describe a fee or how it will be used.

Restaurants or businesses found in violation of The District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act can be subject to penalties. The Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia handles consumer protection complaints and in some cases, refunds may be issued.

You can submit a consumer complaint by: