Unexpected service charges have become a point of growing frustration for restaurant goers in recent years.

Anything from undisclosed gratuities, convenience fees or “health insurance” fees have been slowly making their way onto more and more restaurant bills, leaving many consumers confused, annoyed and, oftentimes, downright livid.

Many of the unexpected fees are being tacked on after you’ve already completed your meal and given the server your card to settle the bill. They are usually listed at the very bottom of the itemized receipt, and often accompanied by an explanation that the additional fees are separate from any tips provided to the server or cooking staff.

The frustration about the ongoing sneaky service charges has led to a grassroots effort on Reddit to track (and sometime shame) restaurants that are tacking on extra charges.

The Los Angeles subreddit — the name for the mini-forums dedicated to specific topics — has seen dozens of posts regarding which restaurants in the city are adding these surcharges.

The posts are so regular, that a frequently updated spreadsheet has been created to track which restaurants are charging, what the additional fees are supposedly for, and whether or not tipping is also still expected.

The /r/LosAngeles Restaurant Surcharge Offenders List is maintained by users of the subreddit and currently has more than 100 included on the inauspicious list.

A screenshot of the r/Losangeles restaurant surcharge tracker.
A screenshot of the r/Losangeles restaurant surcharge tracker.

Fees range from as low as 2% to as high as 20%, with explanations including “wellness fees,” “kitchen love,” and vague “administration” fees. There’s also a spot for employees of the shamed restaurants to offer additional details, including whether or not any of those collected fees go back to the workers or are kept by the restaurants.

These additional fees have been growing in regularity since the coronavirus pandemic. Many restaurants have passed on rising costs to consumers for things like inflation, supply chain shortages and transaction fees for credit charges.

But changes to health care laws are also requiring many small businesses to provide health insurance plans to their employees. Much of the surprise fees being tracked by L.A. area Reddit users list health insurance or other benefits as the specific reason for the fees, with many asking the question: aren’t the employers supposed to pay for that?

KTLA’s resident business analyst David Lazarus has called the sneaky fees a “deceptive business practice.”

Many Redditors involved in tracking the surcharges agree.

“They try to use health insurance to trick you into thinking this money actually goes to health insurance, but again this money belongs to the restaurant and they can do whatever they want with it. It’s just another predatory tax that cuts into employee tips,” one user wrote.

“If you want your employees to have health care…give it to them, they deserve it. Raise prices if you need to. But those BS fees that aren’t included until your checking out is a scam,” another said.

“It’s deception by design. If you ever are at a restaurant and see this on your bill, DO NOT GO BACK. Don’t support these practices,” another wrote.

The National Restaurant Association says about 15% of restaurants are adding these fees onto the overall bill.

Laz’s suggestion to fix the problem? Require businesses to include taxes and fees when listing services prices, much like many European countries do.

In the meantime, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into possible regulations to combat deceptive fees. Public comment on the topic closed earlier this year.

Also, you might have luck asking your server or a manager to reverse the charge, but your mileage may vary.