Bring on the Restaurant Surcharges

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The owners of franny’s, a much-loved Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, announced in their latest newsletter that they are raising prices to pay their cooks better and provide them with health care:

Not only are costs rising: the overall costs of living in New York have increased so significantly that many of the talented cooks we employ are leaving, choosing to cook elsewhere, because they can’t afford to live in New York.

We write this letter to let you all know that as of December 1st, franny’s will be raising our prices in order to give more money to our cooks, who work so hard to bring us all the consistent quality we expect at franny’s. We will also be adding a 3% Affordable Care Act surcharge to our checks.

We tell you all this in the service of transparency, and because, after our employees, the closest people to us are all of you.

They go on to explain that when you go to franny’s you’re not just paying for the food—you’re paying for the people who cook you that food and serve it to you. I embrace all of this wholeheartedly, not just because of the intent behind this, but because we’re already paying these kinds of surcharges in other areas of our lives.

Have you ever thought twice about the surcharges you pay every month for, say, your mobile phone? My monthly Verizon bill contains the following surcharge:

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Some more digging reveals that the the surcharges are for the following:

• A Regulatory Charge – Helps defray various government charges we pay including government number administration and license fees.

• A Federal Universal Service Charge (and, if applicable, a State Universal Service Charge) – Helps recover charges imposed on us by the government to support universal service.

• An Administrative Charge – Helps defray certain expenses we incur, including: charges we, or our agents, pay local telephone companies for delivering calls from our customers to their customers; fees and assessments on our network facilities and services; property taxes; and the costs we incur responding to regulatory obligations.

Essentially, the surcharges I pay every month to Verizon help defray the costs Verizon incurs while doing normal business things, and I can see the same kind of reasoning for franny’s new surcharges. I’m just used to ignoring the ones on my phone bill because they’ve always been there.

So bring on the restaurant surcharges. I understand why they’re there, and am happy to pay them.

Update: franny’s has retracted its surcharge because it feels too anti-ACA.

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