Why people are frustrated at customer's 'lovely gesture' for struggling cafe

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A generous stranger has been criticised for donating $750 to a Melbourne cafe owner.

The owners of Timbuktu Cafe in Brighton East wrote on Facebook on Friday they found a note with no name on it under the door on opening.

Earlier this month, the government announced a $750 coronavirus benefit package for Australians during coronavirus lockdown.

Among the beneficiaries were people on Newstart, disability support pensions and aged care pensions.

A stranger left Timbuktu Cafe $750. Source: Facebook/ Timbuktu Cafe

The person who wrote the note to Timbuktu added to the envelope the full $750 they received from the government saying they were donating the cash to their local cafe to “help the economy”.

The owners of the cafe wrote on Facebook the donation had them “lost for words”.

“Whoever you are, thank you so much,” they wrote.

While the gesture’s been acknowledged as “lovely” some people have suggested it would have been better to use the money in a different way.

“It makes more sense to actually spend your money instead of donating it like this. When you spend your money it makes the economy keep ticking,” one person wrote on Reddit.

“A lot of people like focusing on the frontlines of hospitality and feeling sympathy for the people who make your coffee. But for each coffee someone's worked in a warehouse that supplies the cup, someone's designed the cup, same with the milk, someone's roasted the coffee, someone's found contacts to import the coffee, someone's delivered it. You get what I'm staying, there's a big chain.

“When you dump $750 to the cafe owners, they keep it. End of.”

Another added their local cafe has fallen on “hard times” but they decided the best way to support it was to keep buying coffee.

“This is how I support their business,” they wrote.

Should the recipient of the donation choose to spend the donation – it would stimulate the economy anyway. Source: Getty Images (file pic)

However, another said the suggestion the donation would not help the economy was “nonsense” and others suggested it all comes down to what the recipient does with the money – in this case the owner of Timbuktu.

How the $750 payment stimulates the economy

Professor John Spoehr, director of the Adelaide-based Australian Industrial Transformation Institute, told Yahoo News Australia the purpose of the $750 wasn’t to stimulate the economy but “rather relieve hardship”.

“While some households may not need the $750 and pass it on to others, it may still be spent on goods and services, having a stimulatory impact in the economy,” he said.

“Each dollar spent on a good or service has multiple direct and indirect impacts on a wide range of sectors – this is called the multiplier effect of investment.”

He added while “we don’t know” what the donation to the business will be spent on “there is no doubt that many thousands of café owners and their employees need financial support at the moment”.

“The main source of this should be government, but random acts of generosity like this are welcome in times of hardship so long as we don’t regard them as a replacement for a decent living income,” Professor Spoehr said.

He added “it is vital” the government continues with packages to “avoid plunging” struggling businesses and workers into hardship.

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