Ocean State Job Lot Adds Surcharge To Assist Employees

An optional 2% charge is being added to purchases to provide a bonus for employees working with the public.

NBC Universal, Inc.

As people continue to shop, workers are needed to stock shelves and run cash registers at essential retailers. Working remotely is not an option.

So, what are companies doing to compensate them for working with the public amidst health concerns?

Ocean State Job Lot had an idea. They’ve added an optional two percent surcharge to customers’ purchases. Although, it is catching some people by surprise.

“Yeah, I didn’t know that. I’m actually going to go back and look at that now,” said Henry Orlich after making a purchase Friday.

The charge, according to the company, is an optional contribution from customers to Ocean State Job Lot employees helping provide a bonus for those working with the public amidst coronavirus concerns.

“I can understand that,” said Orlich. “I can agree with that as long as the employees are getting it.”

Ocean State Job lot told NBC Connecticut they are doing several things to make sure customers are aware, including signage in the stores and recorded messages over the in-store audio system. At the Berlin store there is signage on the front window and inside the store.

“I read it and said well, I guess it helps out the employees a little bit I guess,” said Brian Gustafson of East Hampton.

A statement from Ocean State Job Lot says in part:

“The surcharge gives our customers the opportunity to show their support for our dedicated team members and will be refunded immediately to any customer who requests it.”

No one NBC Connecticut spoke with Friday has asked for a refund.

“I didn’t know it was optional,” said Gustafson.

Asked if he would have paid it had he known Gustafson said, “probably. It helps out a little bit.”

In addition to the two percent charge, Ocean State Job Lot has increased workers’ pay by $2 an hour and is allowing them a 30 percent discount on store merchandise. An incentive to work that some customers say these workers deserve.

“They’re also heroes,” said Randy Lebron of Berlin. “Other than our health care workers and our first responders. They deserve it. Sure. I’m all for it.”

Ocean State Job Lot says 100 percent of the surcharge fees collected will go to the employees. We asked for the total collected so far but were told Ocean State Job Lot has not calculated that yet.

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