While there's no limit on public holiday surcharges, 10 to 15 per cent seems to be the standard rate at venues. So when one restaurant charged a diner an "outrageous" 25 per cent, the fee had people gobsmacked.
After heading to Andonis Café and Bar in Brisbane on Queensland's public holiday on Monday, the customer shared the menu which detailed the surcharge as well as a 7 per cent split bill charge at the register.
"How much is too much for a public holiday surcharge?" they questioned on Reddit.
Many were outraged by the restaurant's public holiday surcharge, calling it the "highest [they've] seen".
"I wouldn’t go there, 25% is way over the top," one person commented. While some locals who dined at Andonis thought the public holiday charge "stands up" given how "tasty" and "huge" the portion sizes are.
It's the split bill surcharge though that frustrated some people the most. "25% is outrageous, as is 7% for splitting bills. It's like they hate customers," one person said.
Andonis Café and Bar defends 25 per cent public holiday surcharge
The café told Yahoo News it is difficult staying open on public holidays.
"As a small business operating in the hospitality sector, staying open on public holidays presents growing challenges, including inflation, rising ingredient costs, and other operational expenses," a company spokesperson said.
"The 25% public holiday surcharge enables us to only just cover these additional costs and pay our employees fairly under the Restaurant Industry Award 2020, which includes penalty rates.
"This surcharge applies only to the 14 public holiday days a year. We cannot justify raising prices year-round to cover these costs, as it would negatively impact our customers on the remaining 342 days."
Venues need a 'guarantee' on public holidays
Professor of Business Management at Flinders University Roberta Crouch agreed that "a 25 per cent surcharge is very high", but she said there's more to the equation.
"Perhaps that’s a way also in a busy time to ensure that’s they’re able to pass some of that on as gratuities to the waiting staff and kitchen staff," she told Yahoo.
"If it’s a public holiday or weekend and they know they’ll be busy, then they want to ensure they’ll get maximum profitability or maximum turn on each table.
"If you go there and sit at a table for two hours and don’t order very much, then that's their guarantee that it's going to be worth their while that you’ve used their table at a busy time."
Restaurant removes 7 per cent surcharge
Andonis Café and Bar also explained the split bill surcharge was to "cover expenses associated with multiple transactions" and "deter customers from causing delays at the register while determining individual orders, especially for large bookings".
It said customers did also have the option to use an "online ordering app" which "outweigh the card transaction fees".
However, after "recent feedback" Andonis has dropped the 7 per cent split bill surcharge altogether to "help ease cost pressures for our valued customers".
"We are dedicated to constant improvement and development, and we thank everyone for their feedback and support in our growth," a spokesperson said.
What if businesses just didn't open on public holidays?
Some suggested on Reddit that businesses should just stay closed on public holidays if they can't afford to pay their staff penalty rates, but Ms Crouch said there's "different ways to look at that".
"Someone could turn that around and say 'if you’re not willing to pay a surcharge on a weekend then you should stay home'," she suggested.
"If it's not very equitable, the business could close. And then people wouldn’t have restaurants to go to and they’d complain that there's nothing open on a Sunday."
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