Diner fumes over 'dodgy' Sydney bar surcharge: 'Should be illegal'

A furious diner has hit out at a Sydney cocktail bar after noticing a surcharge on his bill, which many observers have called "dodgy" and "ridiculous".

The man visited Maybe Sammy in The Rocks — directly under the Harbour Bridge — but was shocked to learn that an extra $33.50 had been added to his order and he had no idea why.

The total bill — made up of cocktails, starting from $23, and food — was $335 and a 10 per cent service surcharge is added for "all table customers," he explained in a post on Reddit.

receipt and menu from Maybe Sammys cocktail bar Sydney
The customer at the Maybe Sammy cocktail bar took aim at the 10 per cent charge, saying it was hidden on the last page of the menu (pictured). Source: Reddit

While diners have become accustomed to surcharges on weekends and public holidays, Aussies growing tired of "unreasonable" charges want it to end.

Many suggested those wanting to avoid the extra charge could order at the bar instead, however this could not be confirmed.

Sydney diners question service charge

The poster's issue is that the surcharge was "only disclosed on the last page of the 17-page cocktail list with significantly small fonts," he fumed, adding "this should be illegal."

But the added cost is also outlined clearly on the establishment's website and online menus.

Some Reddit users joined in on the tirade and agreed it is "really dodgy" to disclose the surcharge in small font which many might not see.

"That is so pathetic. This really infuriates me," one fumed.

"Scum behaviour! And they wonder why no one wants to dine out anymore," another chimed in.

Restaurants and bars can set their own prices

Many claimed that the venue's decision to charge extra for table service "is illegal," but according to the ACCC, bars and restaurants can set their own prices, so long as it's made clear.

"Restaurants, cafes and bistros that charge a surcharge on certain days do not need to provide a separate menu or price list or have a separate price column with the surcharge factored in," the website reads.

"However, the menu must include the words 'a surcharge of [percentage] applies on [the specified day or days]' and these words must be displayed at least as prominently as the most prominent price on the menu."

Maybe Sammy's cocktail bar in Sydney's The Rocks
Maybe Sammy's is a cocktail bar in Sydney's The Rocks. Source: Facebook/Maybe Sammy

The poster argued the surcharge in this instance wasn't "prominent" as outlined by the rules and regulations.

He went on to say that he "just wants to go out and pay a subtotal of what is shown in the menu" without worrying about it costing more due to surcharges.

"I have been in fancy places that don't surcharge customers left right and centre, and I was happy to 'volunteerly' tip due to the good service I received," he said.

"Some people might not even see the surcharge on the bill and tip on top for the places like this."

Venue responds to criticism

Yahoo News Australia contacted Maybe Sammy who explained the extra 10 per cent charge "goes entirely to staff".

"We did this, as have many other similar bars, in a way as an incentive to find better staff during the last few months and attract more professionals," they explained in a statement.

"Our staff is also trained, in case of any complaint to happily remove the surcharge."

The original post suggested the surcharge could increase to 25 per cent, implying the 10 per cent charge is added on top of weekend rates.

But the award-winning venue says "we don't apply any extra surcharge on Sunday or public holidays".

The venue has since spoken with the customer and resolved the matter.

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