(Tracy Holmes photo)

‘It’s just the language of it,’ Surrey businesses association says of COVID-19 ‘charge’

But Surrey Board of Trade says it’s good that businesses are being ‘clear and transparent’

A Surrey business association is concerned about how a COVID-19 “charge” could be perceived as businesses in B.C. start to re-open as part of the province’s phase two of its Restart Plan.

But others are applauding the businesses for being “clear and transparent.”

Dean Barbour, the executive director of the Fleetwood Business Improvement Association, said he was made aware of a new charge at some Surrey businesses earlier this week after people contacted him to complain.

“We don’t need to tell our customers that we’re in trouble. I think we’re past the point, there’s been enough negativity in this. Let’s do more to support (local).”

He said some businesses, including a hair salon in Fleetwood, have implemented a COVID-19 surcharge to recoup some costs after mandatory and voluntary closures, due to restrictions in the province because of the pandemic.

“My issue isn’t with the charge itself, my issue is with how it’s being implemented and it’s being called a “COVID service charge,’” Barbour explained to the Now-Leader.

“I said, ‘I don’t think this is going to be a good idea.’ I understand there’s additional costs, but embed those costs into your pricing structure. People will be fine with it. That’s the approach we’ve been asking people to take.”

But Barbour wants to know what happens when the pandemic “goes away.”

“Are you still going to charge the tax or the surcharge? For some, it’s a couple of bucks,” he said. “But when you get to a point where this is over, or we’re moving forward, what are you going to do with that lost revenue now? If it’s $7 or $10 per person, per client, that adds up real quick. Then are you going to embed that in your pricing structure? Then why not do it now and avoid the negativity to it.”

While he’s not opposed to the increase in prices, Barbour said there is some negativity involved.

“It’s just the language of it. It’s the negativity of it. It’s the line item.”

However, Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman said she’s not surprised this is happening.

“I completely understand where these businesses are coming from and the way that they’re messaging it is really with the times in terms of what people will understand,” she said.

“Whether it continues, what the second wave of the virus is going to look like remains to be seen, but this is the new reality of our economy and businesses need to find a way to cover their costs. They’re trying to be transparent. I think that’s a good thing.”

She said everyone is “in this together,” but that “unfortunately some of the costs are going to have to be passed on to the consumer in order for the business to be able to accommodate the health and safety preventative mechanisms to ensure that the virus isn’t spread.”

“I always say it’s important to be clear and transparent,” Huberman said. “Because it’s all about building trust. It’s trying to ensure that we can get consumers to go into a space and spend money. And yes, that money that they’re spending will be increased to a certain extent. But perhaps even the offering of goods and services from a certain business will be modified, it’ll be limited.”

Asked if she thinks this additional charge could last long-term, Huberman said she feels it will “eventually” phase out.

“But it’s going to be a couple of years.”



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

MAY 28: ‘Meetup centres’ enable family visits, pandemic’s effect on B.C. budget to be examined

Surrey to pay TransLink $30M in land, $9M in cash for work on cancelled LRT

Council considered staff report on city’s 2019 annual financial statements during Monday’s “virtual” council meeting

Surrey RCMP promise enforcement at unofficial show ‘n’ shines

Cars have been impounded at the site in the last two years

‘There’s no playbook for this’: South Surrey sports organizations await approval to return to play

Local associations planning for modified summer seasons as COVID-19 restrictions ease

B.C. retirement home creates innovative ‘meet-up’ unit for elderly to see family face-to-face

Innovative ‘purpose-built’ unit keeps residents safe when seeing family for first time since COVID-19

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

Death toll rises in COVID-19 outbreak at Langley Lodge

Number has risen to 22, making it the worst to date in B.C.

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Most Read