A prospective diner scanned a popular Sydney restaurant's website ahead of making a reservation, but something in the fine print stopped them in their tracks.
Underneath the section where the diner was promised to receive 'sweet tea on arrival', was a note advising a 10 per cent gratuity fee would be charged to her bill at NOLA Restaurant in Barangaroo.
The disgruntled diner turned to social media and expressed their frustration, noting the charge labelled as "discretionary" on the website had been revealed as compulsory according to the restaurant's response to an online review.
Another part of the response said the extra fee is a way to "compensate" staff, and used to "ensure that all staff are fairly compensated for their work".
"I was considering dining here until I saw this nonsense," they wrote.
NOLA restaurant responds
After Yahoo News Australia reached out to the Louisiana-inspired restaurant for comment, NOLA's General Manager Clement Martin said the word 'mandatory' had been misused in the customer's review and said it was optional.
"This charge has always been discretionary, as you will see from all of our website copy and any customer communications at the restaurant," NOLA's General Manager Clement Martin said, sharing amendments would be made to the online review.
"As it’s discretionary, guests can ask for this to be removed from their bill at any time."
Mr Martin continued by sharing this opt-out tipping system was put in place during the pandemic to reward workers during "tough economic times", but noted not all of the accumulated money went toward their staff, with 1.5 per cent going towards credit card fees.
NOLA's online menus said a discretionary 10% gratuity applies to all table service, but on its bar menu drink lists it had stated "a 10% service charge applies on all transactions". This was changed on Wednesday with all menus now reading the service charges and gratuities are discretionary.
Gratuity fees are common place in US hospitality venues as staff there make most of their income from customers' tips, however Australian workers in the hospitality industry earn a living wage and don't need to rely heavily on people's generosity, although wages do differ from venue to venue.
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