TFFood News‘No choice’: Shop defends food court sign in Melbourne
TFFood News‘No choice’: Shop defends food court sign in Melbourne
Food News

‘No choice’: Shop defends food court sign in Melbourne

Aussies may be familiar with paying public holiday surcharges at cafes and other food places, but where do they stand when it comes to weekend surcharges?

A photo of a sign displaying a 10 per cent surcharge on Saturday and Sunday at Korean hot dog shop Chunky Town in QV Melbourne has kicked off a debate about when it is acceptable to add surcharges.

The customer who shared the picture on a Melbourne subreddit said they were from Sydney and found it “mind boggling” a shopping center food court had a weekend surcharge.

“A lot of places don’t even have Sunday surcharges let alone a Saturday surcharge,” they wrote.

Critics were quick to call the move “bloody outrageous” and claim they avoided dining at establishments with surcharges.

However, Chunky Town told the surcharges were essential for keeping its doors open and still “doesn’t even nearly cover the penalty rates on weekends”.

Chunky Town marketing director Adam Ong said the surcharges were introduced two years ago.

“With rising costs and the higher award wages on weekends and public holidays our business definitely has to increase its prices somehow in order to survive,” he said.

“We were tossed up whether we should increase our prices across the board, or keep prices the same but add a surcharge on the days it costs more to operate.

“We opted to add surcharges as this meant we didn’t have to raise prices everyday. Chunky Town has not increased its menu prices in two years with our original hot dog still selling at $7.”

Mr Ong explained that on making the decision, the team looked at what other food and beverage businesses were doing.

“We do understand the frustration people have with surcharges but I do hope they understand businesses have really no choice to increase prices somewhere,” he said.

Professor Sean Sands, chair of the management and marketing department at Swinburne University of Technology, told Aussies would likely see a rise in businesses adding on a weekend surcharge – which he believes could be used to price gouge.

“Surcharges have been around for a few years now and I think in the beginning with public holiday surcharges people probably felt a little bit shocked, but as more and more companies start doing it, you don’t have a lot of choice,” he said.

“So I think it kind of became a ‘grin and bear it’ rather than accepting it. Now I think they’re pushing it too far bringing in Sunday surcharges and weekend surcharges.”

Prof Sands said it was “basic business practice” to work out pricing for products and services based on expenses, including paying staff.

“They can pretty easily estimate how many hours they need to be open [and] how much staffing costs are going to be,” he said.

Prof Sands said weekend surcharges presented a “huge equality issue” for people such as working parents who could not go out on weekdays.

He said he believed customers would be much more open to retailers and brands increasing prices across their menu to cover increasing costs, rather than potentially waiting in a cafe line to place an order and suddenly being hit with a weekend surcharge, and credit card surcharge.

“Fair enough if you need to increase your prices by one, two, three per cent, so be it. But have a consistent pricing structure. Try and make it fair for everyone,” he said.

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