Spain holidays were looking like they may face some devastating changes this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. From cordoned off sections of beaches to temperature checks, Britons could experience a different side of the holiday experience they once knew. And now, it seems that pubs and restaurants are being slammed by people for adding money to bar bills as a “COVID supplement”.
The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, especially in countries that rely on tourism.
But a consumer group called FACUA has said that the move from businesses is illegal, even if they are informing customers beforehand.
The group has been left outraged after reports emerged saying that pubs and restaurants are adding money to the bill under the heading of “COVID supplement” in addition to VAT and a service charge.
Customers have said the surcharge is mostly only a pound more but that they shouldn’t be charged because the coronavirus “is not our fault”.
Spain tourism warning: Covid TAX added to bar bills sparks fury among locals
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One stunned Spaniard posted his bill on Twitter which showed a charge of eight euros for two cans of beer plus one euro for a COVID service charge and another 2.05 euros for tax.
He asked his followers: “What you think about this? Do you agree or not ???”
The post has since gone viral with many saying that the charge is outrageous.
The Spanish consumer organisation, OCU said it thinks such a charge is legal if prior notification and bars and restaurants are within their rights to demand a minimum consumption or establishing a maximum stay time on the terraces.
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But FACUA-Consumers in Action says a COVID surcharge is definitely not legal under any circumstances and customers can refuse to pay it.
A spokesman for the FACUA explained why the move was illegal.
They said: “An increasing number of establishments in different sectors of activity are applying what they call the Covid surcharge, rate or supplement to users with the excuse that they have an increase in their expenses as a consequence of adopting the measures dictated by the Government.
“Thus, charging a surcharge in a bar for the measures they have to carry out to prevent the spread of coronavirus, such as workers wearing masks, is as illegal as if, before the pandemic they charged extra for cleaning the table or the fact that the waiters wear a uniform.”
Spain holidays: It seems that pubs and restaurants are being slammed by locals
FACUA added: ”We insist that it is not acceptable for employers to take advantage of the current situation to make consumers pay supplements for hygienic measures such as cleaning.
“Businesses must look at their own costs and adjust prices accordingly, not impose a a COVID-19 supplement.
“It’s then up to the consumer to decide whether to accept the new prices or decide to opt for the offer of another place.”
Reportedly, travellers visiting the US have also experienced a similar surcharge.
Global tourism 2020
A bistro in Las Vegas applied a four percent charge.
The bistro said: “To help offset restrictions on our business resulting from the coronavirus crisis, a four percent surcharge has been added to all guest checks.”
However, the bistro has said the charge is optional.
This means a bottle of bee could cost £7 in some places in the US.
Additional reporting by Rita Sobot