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Customers can refuse coronavirus price hikes

© Belga

Customers can refuse to pay a price supplement slapped on their bills by businesses if clients are not made aware of the price hike beforehand.

As shops begin to reopen under strict sanitary conditions, some businesses have sought to transfer the extra costs for cleaning and sanitary materials onto the bill.

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The so-called “Covid supplement” is applied mostly by mechanic garages and dentists and can in some cases see the final bill swell by up to €50, RTBF reports.

Consumer organisation Test Achats confirmed that while the deed in itself is legal, since businesses are allowed to freely set their own prices, customers must nevertheless be made aware.

“It becomes illegal and unacceptable when the consumer is not told beforehand, in that case, they can refuse to pay the supplement,” Test Achants spokesperson Julie Frère told the Belga news agency.

The consumer organisation has received several complaints from dental patients after they received a bill which was higher than usual from their dentist.

In a video interview, a dentist in Charleroi said that in order to reopen her dental cabinet she had had to invest significantly in protective and disinfecting material both for herself and for her patients, adding that the equipment was hard to come by and often more expensive than usual.

As the reopening of more businesses begins to be considered in government, other professionals, such as hairdressers, could also opt for the price supplement.

“We are aware of the problem,” the federal public services for economic matters (SPF Économie) told 7sur7, adding that they were examining the legal possibilities to manage the situation.

The Brussels Times