Woman calls out 'obscene' surcharge at Sydney restaurant

The experience left a bitter taste in the customer's mouth, questioning whether the restaurant was within its rights to issue the charge.

A woman is furious a Sydney restaurant forced her to pay a 10 per cent surcharge for what she says is an "absolutely ridiculous" reason.

Blogger Lisa Sun said she and her partner went to the unnamed restaurant in Darlinghurst and were initially informed on the bill there was an extra surcharge for "large groups", which left the couple confused given there were only two of them.

So when going up to pay, Ms Sun claims she asked the staff about the fee and was given a different justification for the charge – which left her somewhat stunned.

A photo of Lisa Sun's partner walking inside the Darlinghurst restaurant. A photo of Lisa sitting at the restaurant in the outdoor area.
TikTokker Lisa Sun slammed a Sydney restaurant in Darlinghurst after claiming she and her partner incurred a 10 per cent surcharge for live music. Source: TikTok/itslisasun

"I was like ‘um, is this because there are two of us? Would you not have charged us this surcharge if I came alone?’” she said on TikTok.

“Like how much smaller can this group realistically get, there’s two of us?”

"And they were like, 'oh it's because there's live music'."

Ms Sun ended up paying the bill despite the charge which she called "obscene", but the experience left a bitter taste in her mouth, questioning whether the restaurant is "allowed to do that".

"I don't know how I feel about that... how do you guys feel about being charged a surcharge for live music that you didn’t ask for, and that you weren’t aware of prior to going to dinner?” she asked her followers.

'Daylight robbery at its finest'

The video attracted lots of commentary and was viewed more than 15,000 times.

"No way I would have paid — especially since it wasn't disclosed earlier — never heard anywhere else trying to charge for that," one person commented. To which Ms Sun said "neither" and that she was glad she "checked the bill".

"Daylight robbery at its finest," another said. "They just do these extra surcharges knowing they can get away with it."

"I wouldn't go there again," a third person said.

Some even suggested the influencer should report the incident to Fair Trading under "misleading conduct."

Plenty of people online were quick the bemoan extra surcharges over the Easter weekend.
Plenty of people online were quick the bemoan extra surcharges over the Easter weekend. Source: TikTok/itslisasun

The law on restaurant surcharges

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), some restaurants can impose surcharges on certain days such as weekends and public holidays, as long as the surcharge is displayed accordingly so that the customer can see.

"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," the ACCC website states. "If the menu does not have prices listed, these words must be displayed in a way that is conspicuous and visible to a reader. These measures apply to pricing for both food and beverages."

There is no limit to the percentage a cafe or restaurant can impose, but the ACCC assures consumers can report those they believe are breaking these rules.

Griffith University marketing expert Dr Sara Thaichon previously told Yahoo News Australia adding a surcharge is legal as long as customers know about it before making any transaction.

"But it can be problematic from the customer perspective as it is often considered a sneaky tactic of restaurants, especially when customers are not expecting it".

"While a voluntary tip is intended to go to the employees who provide the service, a service charge often goes directly to the business to cover the cost of the business such as the costs to provide the actual services or administrative costs," she explained.

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