WASHINGTON — So, you're going out to eat in D.C., and you want to know just how much it's going to cost.
Amid confusion over a variety of new restaurant fees popping up on bills in the District, DC Attorney General Brian Schwalb provided updated guidance to restaurants on Wednesday on how to adequality disclose fees to diners.
He offered several examples of what is, and what isn't, compliant with the law.
"Under the [Consumer Protection Procedures Act], restaurants must timely, prominently, and accurately disclose all mandatory fees. And while the CPPA does not prohibit adding fees to bills, restaurants must explain fees that are vaguely labeled and likely to confuse consumers," says Schwalb.
By timeliness, the attorney general elaborated saying restaurants must disclose the existence and the amount of fees, including service fees, before diners place their orders.
In terms of prominence, he says when restaurants disclose their prices, they should do it in a manner that consumers are likely to be aware of them.
"Restaurants cannot bury fee information, obscure fees in fine print, or otherwise hide the existence or amount of fees. Disclosure can be made through a menu, signage, or orally—or any combination of the above —so long as diners are likely to be aware of the fees," Schwalb adds.
He says a good rule of thumb for restaurants is to communicate service fee information in the same manner that they communicate their prices. Fees should not come as a surprise.
Get ready for even more of those mandatory service charges tacked onto your bill at DC restaurants.