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Does ANY cafe/restaurant in the ACT meet your service expectations?

By braddonmonsta - 31 July 2013 64

In recent years, most restaurants/cafes in Canberra have adopted outrageous, non-customer friendly policies regarding bill payments. As one of many people who don’t use cash, eating out with friends is quickly becoming a nightmare.

For example, at one popular venue:

We do not split bills. Minimum 10.00 for card transaction. All prices are GST inclusive. Surcharge applies on Sundays (10%) & public holidays (15%). 3% card fee applies for Amex & Diners. 1.5% card fee applies for Visa & Mastercard.

Can anyone tell me if there is a place in Canberra that meets the following criteria:

  • No card minimum or surcharge for any card including AMEX
  • No weekend/holiday surcharge
  • Happy to split bills and accept card for each person’s portion
  • Somewhat decent food/coffee

This stuff is a basic expectation in other countries. In the USA, you might see “we only split bills 6 ways or less” – now that’s an acceptable restriction.

What’s Your opinion?


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64 Responses to
Does ANY cafe/restaurant in the ACT meet your service expectations?
Conan of Cooma 11:30 am 31 Jul 13

I take it you guys have never worked on a counter before, or perhaps have any retail knowledge?

When you give a table a bill and they split it and come up in dribs and drabs to pay is total BS. It’s even more so when there is a disagreement on who pays what – The person serving you doesn’t give a shit about who pays what, just pay the fkn bill and sort it out where you’re not blocking a service area and taking up staff time (happens this way 90% of the time).

Cards that attract surcharges natively (like AMEX) are like that because that’s how the CC company works – THEY CHARGE MORE, YOU DUMMY! You want the cafe you are visiting to pay for part of your meal? Get stuffed. You want to eat there then you can pay for the entirety of the meal. You ordered it.

It’s true that some places have surcharges on all cards, and given that they have paid, and continue to pay, for the service they provide, then what’s wrong with them wanting a little remuneration for the costs? Is this something else you want for free, as well? perhaps you don’t understand that Mickey Ds can get away without charging because they make so much money. A corner cafe doesn’t make billions, so they need to charge for it. Suck it up.

Weekend/Holiday surcharges are a result of crappy industrial laws (in relation to the hospitality industry) but surely if you worked on a weekend you would expect more money? I know us Pubes DEMAND it.

Also, in the US they get paid almost NOTHING and live off tips, so anything to make the customers happy works fine. Perhaps if you tight arses tipped then the workers wouldn’t demand extra weekend pay, and then you wouldn’t have to pay extra for your food?!?

I don’t like banks, so I don’t leave my cash there. I’m not out of touch, I just don’t trust society and corporate greed.

Perhaps your standards are too high and you just need to move to Melbourne and be pretentious with all the pretentious people. I hear Brisbane is also getting pretty pretentious now.

You’re not entitled to anything bucko, suck it up.

HiddenDragon 11:25 am 31 Jul 13

Some of this may change, over time, with technology making electronic payments quicker and easier, and with competitive pressures perhaps encouraging more establishments to adopt the desired payment/billing practices. As to comparisons with the US, be careful what you wish for – do we want full-blown US-style wages and working conditions here? (they are, after, all part of the system which apparently produces customer-friendly standards of service).

aussieboy 11:17 am 31 Jul 13

AndrewB said :

Um…..

i) Credit Card schemes pass interchange costs to merchants. These merchants are allowed to surcharge customers to recoup the cost of card acceptance under rules set by the Reserve Bank. AMEX and Diners are particularly expensive cards for businesses to accept. (Note that the Reserve Bank has recently issued guidance to prevent this surcharging by merchants from being at usurious levels.)

ii) Weekend / holiday surcharge – thanks to the Labor Party’s Fair Work Act, businesses have no option but to pay a whole series of penalty rates and loadings when employing staff at these times. We don’t have a 7 day a week economy anymore – years of reforms to increase labor market flexibility (carried out by Governments of both political colours) have largely been unpicked by this Government under direction from the unions. One can argue about whether this is a good thing or not, but it is undeniable that the costs to businesses opening on weekends and holidays are now higher in real $ terms.

iii) Happy to split bills – I take your point, but partly this relates to i) above – accepting multiple credit cards within one bill means paying multiple interchange fees. The technology to split bills at point-of-sale is coming though – the Commonwealth Bank for one is now rolling out apps that will sit on merchant terminals to allow people to do this at the table.

You’ve missed the point. There’s no surcharge for electricity, uniforms, or eating at any other unprofitable time of the week. Why should there be a surcharge for card?

And so what if the 30c base merchant fee means my $3 coffee makes no profit (although I find this incredibly hard to believe given the actual cost of making a coffee)??? If I like the coffee, I’ll probably come back later for lunch or dinner. Are businesses really that uninterested in attracting new customers?

The widely used argument that people paying cash are subsidising people using card is also crazy – profit margins for all items in a restaurant/cafe/bar vary significantly, so diners are subsidising each other regardless.

It comes down to two things – stinginess and laziness. ALL costs should be in the menu price. I’ve worked in hospitality for a long time, and am more than happy to spend the extra 1 minute splitting a bill on the terminal if it makes a customer happy.

Here_and_Now 11:05 am 31 Jul 13

To answer the original question, many such establishments meet my expectations of service. But it does seem my expectations are a little…relaxed compared to the article.

goggles13 10:57 am 31 Jul 13

I’ve been to a few places in Canberra and Adelaide where the restaurant has not wanted to split the bill. I’ve insisted they do, and they have then split the bill.

in an increasingly electronic society, there is nothing wrong with people not carrying cash arround with them.

ATMs are unfriendly at the best of times (slow) and you have to pick the right one to avoid the stupid $2.00 charge for using some other banks’ ATM.

Genie 10:56 am 31 Jul 13

I thought they banned things like public holiday surcharges. Don’t they have to provide a different menu ?

Also vendors are no longer allowed to “make a profit” when you pay via credit card and they charge a fee.. Eg if the bank only charges them 0.7% that’s all they can charge. Not the 1.5%

Or have both of these rules/laws already been overturned ????

zorro29 10:50 am 31 Jul 13

i can not believe so many people pay cash. cash is annoying – i use card for everything. the OP has a total right to complain on this

if merchants are so small they can’t afford to absorb the charge for processing card payments, then they should offer the customer the option of paying that charge themselves – the reason they dont is cos they’re probably dodging tax on small purchases

we should abolish cash altogether and have electronic systems only…problem solved. and all the cash in hand tax cheats will suddenly be screwed (plus it will save us money not having to produce money…have you ever thought about how filthy the money you use is? eww)

hmmmm

planet42 10:40 am 31 Jul 13

Just pay cash – I always do – it’s not hard. In fact I rarely use my card for anything.

When cafe’s are busy the prospect of bill splitting must be a nightmare from the cafe point of view. It takes so much longer then and they want their staff more productively occupied rather than wasting their time with a group of people because the group couldn’t get their act together.

Cyph 10:15 am 31 Jul 13

+100 000 000

Inability or unwillingness to split bills is one of my pet hates – especially for things like team lunches – hence why I make a note of venues that DO split bills, and therefore earn my repeat custom:

– Asian Noodle House on Northbourne in Civic
– Ka Sushi Ramen at the E&Y building (order at counter though, so that doesn’t really count)
– Mr Shabu Shabu near UniLodge
– PJs (also order at counter, but good lunch venue nonetheless)
– Noodle Cafe in Garema Place (next to Honkys)

Though I’m yet to find a venue that meets all your criteria. That said, I’m still happy to pay with cash. Weekend/holiday surcharges are ridiculous, though. I thought they’d banned them (though maybe only over the border)?

Zeital 10:13 am 31 Jul 13

There are a few around but you will be hard pressed in Canberra to find one that does it all….. normally we get around it by one person paying and the rest either transferring the money owed across (which at most takes a few days from some banks) or if they have cash on them to hand it to the payee.

I think it is because of the cost of having a machine is so outrageous that they only have the option to say no or they pay big $$ in fees.

AndrewB 10:12 am 31 Jul 13

Um…..

i) Credit Card schemes pass interchange costs to merchants. These merchants are allowed to surcharge customers to recoup the cost of card acceptance under rules set by the Reserve Bank. AMEX and Diners are particularly expensive cards for businesses to accept. (Note that the Reserve Bank has recently issued guidance to prevent this surcharging by merchants from being at usurious levels.)

ii) Weekend / holiday surcharge – thanks to the Labor Party’s Fair Work Act, businesses have no option but to pay a whole series of penalty rates and loadings when employing staff at these times. We don’t have a 7 day a week economy anymore – years of reforms to increase labor market flexibility (carried out by Governments of both political colours) have largely been unpicked by this Government under direction from the unions. One can argue about whether this is a good thing or not, but it is undeniable that the costs to businesses opening on weekends and holidays are now higher in real $ terms.

iii) Happy to split bills – I take your point, but partly this relates to i) above – accepting multiple credit cards within one bill means paying multiple interchange fees. The technology to split bills at point-of-sale is coming though – the Commonwealth Bank for one is now rolling out apps that will sit on merchant terminals to allow people to do this at the table.

iv) IMHO you need to look harder – there is some great coffee and quality restaurants in Canberra!

Ultimately I agree with you that these things are all part of a competitive proposition that the restaurant / cafe needs to put forward if they are to earn your business in a competitive environment. However, I don’t dismiss the costs involved – they are real. I’m glad I don’t run a small business.

Rollersk8r 10:03 am 31 Jul 13

Welcome to life – and this is hardly a Canberra-only problem. What kind of a stand are you taking against cash? What did cash ever do to you?

It costs small businesses to rent card facilities, and costs them every time someone pays with a card. Therefore, for small transactions like a coffee, or a newspaper, or a packet of chewing gum, it’s literally not worth selling it to you with a card. (And yes, you can make very small purchases with your card in the supermarket because they’re less concerned about the fees).

Snave81 9:58 am 31 Jul 13

Fair enough on the splitting bill one, but if a business has higher overheads on a Sunday or public holiday, why shouldn’t they be able to charge a surcharge? Would you prefer the business to be a charity and absorb the higher costs on the day you choose to attend or increase the costs across all days of the week to cover the days with higher overheads? Similarly with credit card surcharges, should a business abosrb the costs of providing you with the convenience of paying by credit card or be able to recover costs through a reasonable surcharge.

zorro29 9:35 am 31 Jul 13

agree 100%…the policies of most restaurants/cafes are not customer friendly and are usurious charges

in answer to the question – no 🙁

FXST01 9:26 am 31 Jul 13

Can I get an amen brother?

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