'Very disappointing': Confusion over Dine and Discover vouchers

Brooke Rolfe
·News Reporter
·5-min read

A number of NSW residents have claimed Dine & Discover vouchers issued as part of the state government's $500 million economy-boosting scheme have been refused when presented at participating establishments. 

Eligible adults from last month were given access to four $25 Dine and Discover vouchers to be spent at participating cafes, restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreation venues.

But according to a handful of NSW residents, some businesses have been refusing to accept vouchers, while others seemed to have adopted their own rules entirely. 

Despite the scheme's rollout being completed at the end of March, a consumer claimed last week when they tried paying for a meal at Japanese restaurant Hanamaruya in Bankstown, in Sydney's west, they were told "not yet".

File image shows diners out of the front of a restaurant.
More than 2.1 million people have applied for Dine & Discover vouchers to spend at almost 11,000 businesses. Source: Getty Images, file

"At the end of the meal, when I presented my voucher I was nonchalantly told, 'No, not yet', then had the EFTPOS machine quickly handed to me with the full amount, zero apology or explanation," the diner shared to Reddit.

"When I enquired why, as their business is on the official government website, I was told: 'There is issue – the manager will be told.' I was rushed to pay and moved out." 

The diner described the experience as "very disappointing" and said they wouldn't be returning in the future.

A Hanamaruya employee confirmed to Yahoo News Australia that while the business experienced a temporary technical error in the early phase of the rollout, it was now accepting the vouchers.

The employee also confirmed more than one voucher could be used to cover the cost of a group's meal.

According to the Service NSW website, customers should be allowed to combine their vouchers towards the same bill.

Inside the Horizon Restaurant at Cabra-Vale Diggers Club.
Inside the Horizon Restaurant at Cabra-Vale Diggers Club which has not been accepting more than one voucher per bill. Source: Google Maps

At the Horizon Restaurant inside the Cabra-Vale Diggers Club, in southwest Sydney, customers claimed they were rejected when their group tried to use more than one voucher to cover a bill on Easter Monday. 

"They would only accept my voucher, but not my friend's and got the EFTPOS machine shoved in front of us. The excuse was: it's a public holiday, we are allowed to decide how it is used," they wrote on the Reddit thread.

An employee from the restaurant confirmed with Yahoo News Australia on Wednesday the business had decided on the rule with the belief they were allowed to use their own discretion when accepting the vouchers.

Dine & Discover vouchers can be used every day

A spokesperson for Service NSW confirmed businesses were not permitted to design their own policies on how the vouchers were to be accepted.

"Reports of non-compliance will be investigated," the spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia. 

"The NSW Government is committed to making Dine and Discover accessible to all eligible residents of NSW. If a customer is experiencing difficulties with using their vouchers or feels a business is not honouring Service NSW guidelines, they’re encouraged to call Service NSW on 13 77 88 or visit the website."

Someone else claimed on Reddit they had attempted to use a voucher at a participating establishment on a Friday and were told they couldn't use it. 

They did not provide a name of the business or the date they visited.

A Service NSW spokesperson confirmed Dine and Discover vouchers could be used seven days a week, including public holidays.

Image of a $25 Dine and Discover voucher.
All eligible adults have until the end of June to spend four $25 vouchers. Source: Supplied

There has been some early confusion among contributors to the Reddit discussion, with some arguing the vouchers weren't available on public holidays. 

In the trial phase there were limited days of the week available during which they could be used, but those restrictions have since been removed for the full rollout. 

Others said they had been able to use the vouchers without any issues, but suggested there had been some teething issues regarding when and how they could be used.

"What I've noticed is that not all places are 100 per cent clear on the rules. Some accept multiple people's vouchers on a single bill, others thought that wasn't allowed. There is some misunderstanding out there," one wrote. 

Some businesses offer double voucher value

Service NSW said the voucher scheme operated on an entirely voluntary basis and businesses could opt out of it at any time. 

"Participation in the Dine and Discover program is voluntary for businesses, and businesses that have registered are expected to accept valid Dine and Discover vouchers in accordance with the terms and conditions. Businesses can withdraw from the program at any time," the spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia. 

More than 10,800 businesses have registered for the Dine and Discover scheme, with those run by hospitality group The Sydney Collective offering an additional $25 discount to people who use the voucher. 

The doubling offer – available at popular Sydney establishments like the Watsons Bay Boutique Hotel, the Imperial and Northies – can be claimed on selected days and not on public holidays. 

More than 2.1 million NSW residents have registered for the vouchers, which will expire on June 30.

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