Ritz-Carlton Investigated For Adding Surcharge During Basketball Tournament

ciaasvchargeIn late February, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association, the oldest African-American athletic conference in the U.S., held its annual basketball tournament in Charlotte, where visitors to the Ritz-Carlton found that they were being subject to an automatic 15% “CIAA Service” surcharge on their bills at the lobby bar.

The surcharge, which specifically calls out the CIAA, irked a number of the lounge patrons, especially those who questioned whether the imposition of a steep service charge may have been racially motivated. It was originally reported by WBTV.

Last week, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority confirmed to the Charlotte Observer that no other hotels in the city tacked on a similar surcharge during the tournament.

“Due to the size of the CIAA event, we instituted a modest 15% service charge for our lobby beverage servers, on whom the event places significant demands throughout the weekend,” the hotel said in a statement at the time.

However, what remains unclear is whether the Ritz-Carlton has previously used the surcharge for similarly large events, and whether this surcharge was indeed provided to the employees for whom it was collected.

The hotel is only saying that “The service charge was not intended to single out any particular group or organization and we deeply regret any misunderstanding this may have caused.”

But these assurances apparently didn’t do much to convince the North Carolina Attorney General’s office, which has sent the hotel a request [PDF] for more information about the reasons for the surcharge, whether it was uniformly applied, and where the collected money went.

A rep for the AG’s office tells the Observer that at least three written complaints and two phone calls have been received regarding this surcharge.

The CIAA has been holding its basketball tournament in Charlotte since 2006 and recently agreed to continue its partnership with the city for several years to come.

[via NPR]