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Ritz-Carlton Agrees To Refund CIAA Service Charges

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The Ritz-Carlton has agreed to refund customers who paid an extra service charge during the CIAA tournament in Charlotte in February. 

Customers who bought food and drinks in the Lobby Lounge of the Uptown Ritz-Carlton during the 2015 CIAA tournament paid an extra 15 percent on their bills. The hotel labeled it a “CIAA service charge.”  Some customers who attended the event that features  historically African-American colleges called the extra charge a “black tax.”  

The Ritz-Carlton later apologized for the charges and said it didn’t intend to single-out a particular group of customers. But the North Carolina attorney general Roy Cooper's office launched an investigation and threatened to sue the Ritz-Carlton if complaints were not resolved. The attorney general's office announced the agreement on Monday.    

In its agreement with the attorney general and the CIAA, the Ritz denies doing anything illegal, but promises to refund customers who paid the additional charge. The hotel company will also donate $75,000 to the CIAA Scholarship Fund, and $5,000 to the North Carolina Department of Justice for consumer protection efforts. The Ritz also agrees that in the future, it will disclose any special service charges in writing on its menu, and have servers and bartenders remind customers of the extra charge.

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Read the Agreement Letter

The NC Attorney General's office says consumers who believe they are eligible for a refund have 90 days to apply by filing a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division online. Or call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina to request a complaint form in the mail.