Downtown L.A. restaurant sneaks absurd 4.5% "Security Charge" on bills

Just when you thought restaurants couldn't get any greedier, a chic dining spot in downtown L.A. is unabashedly tacking on a laughable 4.5% "security charge" to every bill.

As exposed by the LA Times, Perch, a swanky rooftop bar and restaurant, is shamelessly swindling its customers with this utterly ridiculous fee under the guise of "ensuring staff and guest safety." One outraged patron rightfully called them out on Reddit, questioning "Why this amount? How much does this fee generate for them per night?" Sounds like some good ol' fashioned price gouging.

Of course, Perch tried defending their con with some B.S. about security costs, conveniently ignoring that pretty much every building in that area has basic security already covered by rent and operating expenses.

The practice of tacking on unexpected mandatory fees after advertising a low initial price is what a new California law aims to crack down on. Taking effect July 1, 2024, Senate Bill 478 declares that "advertising, displaying, or offering a price for a good or service that does not include all mandatory fees or charges" is an unlawful deceptive practice.

There's debate over whether the law requires restaurants to fully incorporate junk fees into listed menu prices for food and drinks, or simply disclose them more transparently. With penalties of at least $1,000 per violation, the new law incentivizes upfront transparency about the true total cost to avoid misleading pricing tactics that lure customers with seemingly low rates only to hit them with excessive fees later.

The Times notes the state attorney general's office said "disclosing the fees was not enough — they had to be included in the prices on the menu." I agree. I want restaurants (and all retail stores) to use the straightforward pricing approach I admire in Japan. There, when an item is listed at 3500 yen, you simply pay 3500 yen with no extra tax, tip, or surprise fees tacked on at the end. Your bill matches the advertised price.

Previously: White House report documents the `hidden fees` that pick America`s pockets