DEAR HELOISE: This is in response to the letter about "unnecessary fees irking customers" that ran in a recent column. A little over a week ago, I sent this email to my friends regarding the hidden (they say surcharge) fees in restaurants.
An article on the front page in a recent Orange County Register was about lots of restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange County, California, now putting surcharges on customers' bills. The charges are different. Some are for the use of your credit card; some for the cooks; some for medical insurance recently mandated by the state; some for mandated masks during COVID; and some don't really say what they are for. Not all restaurants are doing it yet. They do say it does not replace the tip for the servers. It can run from 1% to as high as 4% (rarely), according to the article.
So, I pulled my bill from last night out of my pocket, and sure enough, there was a surcharge on it. It was for $1.57, and of course, there was no explanation. I'm not going to do anything, but the article says that you can ask to have it removed, which most places will do. Or you can ask for an explanation as well.
Hope this fills in the questions about the "new" fees. Oh, and the Orange County Register is where I see your column each day! -- Dennis Childress, Orange County, California
DEAR HELOISE: I am writing in response to a senior who complained about the cost of cellphones, and the fact that many businesses link everything to cellphone use. I just wanted to make sure that the reader knows there are phones out there that do more than just text and call and do not cost an outrageous amount of money.
I am also a senior, and although my adult children don't think twice about spending more than $500 for a phone, I use one that costs between $100 and $200. I know that it is not inexpensive, but it is a lot less than $1,000 phones and can solve her problem with getting access to the information she needs.
There are also plans that charge on the basis of usage, and since I don't use all the apps or games that my children use, my monthly bill is less than $30 each month. My phone is mostly used for texting and calling, but having the option of other uses comes in handy (and I am finding more conveniences every day). -- Mary Koeker, via email
TWO HELPFUL HINTS
DEAR HELOISE: Thank you for your many years of helpful hints. You have done a wonderful service to millions, I am sure. Here are two hints from me: Put a drop of red food coloring in a dry rain gauge. You can then easily see how much rain is collected without having to go outside to check.
The second hint is to carefully pry off the tops of empty spray perfume bottles with a pair of needle nose pliers. These bottles come in many pretty shapes and sizes. Fill one with water and a small flower, and you will have a miniature bud vase. Collect several for a charming little flower arrangement. These are especially nice for little flowers, like clovers or dandelions, and children can lovingly present them to their mothers. -- Jo Merrily King, via email
Send a money-saving or timesaving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001, or you can fax it to 1-210-HELOISE or email it to [email protected]. I can't answer your letter personally but will use the best hints received in my column.
King Features Syndicate