Over the weekend I had Sunday brunch with my partner at a lovely new-ish establishment in Canberra. The food was delicious and reasonably priced, the service lovely and we didn’t have to wait long for a table. Perfect. When it was time to pay the bill, we were hit with a 10 per cent Sunday surcharge.
I don’t mind paying a surcharge. Sure, I might have had a little groan on the inside to myself about it but I’m actually okay with it. We have pretty good workplace relations laws in Australia which we should be incredibly thankful for and yes, if we work on a Sunday or a public holiday when everyone else gets the day off, we should get a little bonus for that. That seems fair enough, right? The café owner feels the need to put a surcharge on the days when they’re bound by law to pay their staff extra. But why is it only cafes and restaurants that apply this surcharge and do people actually cop it?
I can only imagine the outrage and backlash if other stores started whacking an extra 10 per cent on their prices on Sundays. People would go ballistic if they were purchasing a shirt or a pair of shoes from a fashion retailer and were hit with a surcharge at the cash register. If you were finalising your purchase of clothes or other goods and the retailer bumped the price up because it was a Sunday, would you pay it? Retail stores still need to pay their staff penalty rates, but they don’t put their prices up. Why is it only an exclusivity for the hospitality industry? I’d definitely avoid doing clothes shopping on days that attract penalty rates for staff if a surcharge was going to be imposed, but I don’t generally avoid restaurants or cafes that have a surcharge.
10 per cent seems to be your stock standard surcharge but I’ve seen 15 and even 20 per cent surcharges across the capital on Sundays. To me, 20 per cent is a little exorbitant and seems more like a tactic to make extra profit rather than making enough money to fund the penalty rates of employees. There is one café in Canberra – which I absolutely love – but they whack a 20 per cent surcharge on your bill on Sundays, so I don’t make a habit of going there unless it’s Monday-Saturday.
If you come across a restaurant or café that is applying a surcharge do you avoid it and find somewhere surcharge free, or do you suck it up and eat there anyway? If you pay the surcharge, would you stop at 10 per cent or would you happily pay 15 or 20 per cent?