Backlash over Sydney bar's 10pm beer surcharge: 'Appalling'

A customers said he was charges a huge 29 per cent more after 10pm.

A popular pub in Sydney has been slammed for charging customers a "late-night surcharge" after one patron noticed the price of beer changed throughout their visit.

The patron visited The Oxford Hotel in Darlinghurst on Saturday where they bought a jug of beer for $24.36, but at 10.37 pm — just over an hour later — the same order cost them $33.50.

The Reddit user claimed they did not notice the price difference when ordering but spotted the charges via their Apple Pay notifications. Confused, they approached the bar for clarification.

"When I asked the same staff member who served me he said there was a 'late night surcharge after 10pm'," the frustrated patron wrote on Reddit on Monday. "I’ve never heard of a late night surcharge before and it’s a 30 per cent increase! Not exactly a small increase."

The customer claimed there was no signage to notify anyone of changes after 10pm. "I’ve never even heard of this practice in Australia. Is it even legal?" they questioned.

Oxord hotel sydney.
The Oxford Hotel in Sydney has been slammed for its late night surcharge. Source: Google Images

People slam 'ripoff' surcharge

The revelation shocked many on social media who called out the venue.

"Call it what you will but charging customers a 'late night surcharge' is just a scam, racket, ripoff, sham, con, shakedown," one person wrote. "I’m complaining next time I go there," said another.

The poster added that staff "don’t even have their prices listed let alone this surcharge". "How about we normalise price lists for beer?" one responded.

Since the post, the venue has received numerous one-star reviews on Google, with one saying it's "appalling". Others called it "ridiculous" and claimed, "theft is a sin".

Venue responds to backlash and defends surcharge

Responding to the backlash, The Oxford Hotel shared a post on Facebook on Wednesday. The venue defended its higher costs saying "pricing does increase in line with increased operating expenses".

"These expenses are made up of DJs, drag performers, sound and lighting technicians, security personnel, and late night and penalty rates paid to staff," the post reads. "We provide free entertainment six days per week. Offering these services and entertainment would not be possible without price increases."

The Oxford Hotel, Sydney.
The popular venue responded to the backlash claiming the surcharges are necessary. Source: Google

Responding directly to the jug of Newtowner beer and its $9.14 increase, the venue "acknowledged this was an error" — the increase was supposed to have been 8 per cent instead of 29 per cent, it claimed.

"The error has been rectified and we are grateful to the customer for bringing this to our attention – we are reducing the price of beer this weekend as a result," they said, adding they'll be offering $20 jugs of beer to rectify the error.

What does the ACCC say?

The hospitality industry often charges more for menu items on certain days — usually weekends or public holidays. They do not have to include this charge on the total price displayed on products, but if there is a surcharge patrons must be informed under Australian law.

"A surcharge of (percentage) applies on (day or days)," according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website.

"These words must be at least as prominent as the most prominent price on the menu. Alternatively, if the menu does not list prices, the information about the surcharge must be displayed in some other prominent way."

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