Ordering take out and dining out has been my saving grace over the past year while opportunities for socializing are few and far between. It’s not the cheapest hobby to have, but getting out of the house and having someone else cook for me has been my favorite thing to do.

However, a recent post online had me raising my eyebrows about a potential surcharge I may have been overlooking, and furthermore, is the surcharge even legal?

Stan Smith went out to eat on the SouthCoast recently and posed a question after he noticed an odd message on his bill.

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“I don’t want to mention restaurant names, and I do understand why, but is this legal? ‘Due to my increased credit card fees, there will be a 4% usage charge, for all credit card purchases. Sorry for any inconvenience. Also, tips are no longer accepted on credit cards,'" he posted.

The statement resulted in reactions across the board, with some people understanding and others adamant that this was against the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“That’s illegal,” Patty Robbins replied. “You cannot pass that charge on to the customer.”

Kellie Farina chimed in saying, “A lot of small businesses started doing (that) when COVID began. The intention was to help with the loss of revenue."

That may be true, but is it legal? WCVB5 reported last month about a woman who received a steep credit card surcharge from a car dealership, reiterating that “no seller in any sales transaction may impose a surcharge on a cardholder who elects to use a credit card.”

I worked in the restaurant industry for many years, and I have a true love for the restaurant community, but I worry about those who may be implementing a rule that will get them into trouble with the law. Between the use of third-party delivery services and food costs, finances add up in a restaurant – but I don’t find it fair to make up those dividends buy the expense of customers paying with plastic. Moreover, not accepting tips on a credit card seems to directly correlate to tax evasion.

Don’t get me wrong, I am here to see the restaurants on the SouthCoast succeed. But are restaurants taking advantage of credit card holders or is this a valid, run-of-the-mill process for all facilities?

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