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Why California restaurants are shocked by the ‘junk fee’ law

Last Friday, a friend and I met at a chain restaurant in Sacramento for our usual weekly lunch. We both ordered $16 plates of Mexican food.

When the bill arrived, it totaled just over $36, including tax and a $1.28 “surcharge”. We gave the server $45 before leaving, assuming the extra money would cover his tip.

I mention this somewhat mysterious surcharge because, just days earlier, California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office said a new state law banning unnecessary charges attached to bills for services or goods also included the restaurants.

“SB 478 applies to restaurants, just as it applies to businesses throughout California,” a Justice Department spokesperson told the San Francisco Chronicle. “The law aims to ensure that consumers know what they are going to pay and requires that the price displayed includes the total amount a consumer must pay for that good or service.”