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Nov 2, 2008 11:54 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Proposed county law targets hidden prices

Nov 2, 2008 11:54 PM

It’s not an uncommon experience to go to a restaurant, order a special and discover, upon receiving the bill, that it had an especially high price.

A Suffolk County legislator has just introduced a bill to prevent that by requiring restaurants to disclose the price of specials.

Lynne Nowick of St. James believes that consumers should have the “information necessary to make informed decisions”—and that includes the prices of food in a restaurant.

She charges in the text of her bill that “certain restaurants in Suffolk County do not recognize this ‘right to know’ when it comes to their policy for so-called ‘daily specials.’” They do not appear on the regular menu, and restaurants “in many cases fail to voluntarily apprise their customers how much these special cost.”

As a result, she writes in her bill, “too often consumers learn when their bill arrives that the special they ordered costs far more than they anticipated.”

If Ms. Nowick’s bill is enacted, all restaurants in Suffolk County would have to “give their patrons adequate notice of the prices of all food items offered for sale, including those items known as ‘daily specials.’”

Notice could be given by including the price of specials on the regular menu or “on a printed daily specials page” or otherwise “posted in a manner and location so the price” would be “readily observable by patrons.”

The penalty for non-compliance would be “not less than $50 nor more than $500” for each violation.

The proposed law would be enforced by the Suffolk County Office of Consumer Affairs. It has gone to legislative committee for consideration.

Karl Grossman

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