The hotel issued the following apology:
"The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte apologizes to any guests we may have offended for the addition of a service charge that was implemented during a recent event in our lobby lounge. The service charge was an automatic gratuity of 15% that was distributed in full to the servers who worked the event. The service charge was not intended to offend anyone and we are deeply sorry for any misunderstanding we may have caused. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte is also cooperating fully with the North Carolina Attorney General's inquiry into this matter. We are committed to ensuring that all guests feel welcomed at our hotel and receive the highest level of service, respect and hospitality we strive for every day at The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte."The AG's office is also asking people who paid the surcharge to contact them. They posted about it on their Facebook page.
CIAA is an NCAA division II basketball tournament for historically black universities. The tournament brings in thousands of tourists for the basketball games and parties.
The Attorney General's office got complaints from people who bought drinks in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton hotel during the tournament, because their bills included a "CIAA service charge."
The consumer protection division of the Attorney General's office sent a letter to David Rothwell, the manager of the Ritz Carlton hotel on East Trade Street, asking for more information about the surcharge, including:
- What was the purpose of the surcharge?
- What days and times did they include the charge on patrons' bills?
- How and when did the hotel let customers know they were including the extra charge?
- What did the hotel do with the extra money?
- Has the hotel used similar charges for other events?