A popular restaurant chain has defended adding a mystery surcharge to all bills six days a week, saying it was a “difficult decision” to introduce the mandatory surcharge for customers.
A diner at the Bavarian Bier Cafe was puzzled by a bizarre surcharge on their receipt. She wasn’t the only one.
The confusion arose after a night out at the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, branch of the German-themed pub and restaurant.
The Bavarian has around 30 outlets across Australia with branches concentrated in and around Sydney and Brisbane.
The person took a snapshot of their receipt and posted it on Reddit.
The receipt includes the usual Bavarian fare – a schnitzel or two, cheeseburgers and beers.
But there was bewilderment at $5.35 added to the bill as an “industry service fee.”
That was about 5% of the $112 bill.
“Can someone explain what the $5.35 industry service fee is? Never seen this hidden gem before? said the diner.
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“Sounds like ‘compulsory tipping’ to me,” said one respondent.
Others have asked “is it legal?”
The company that owns The Bavarian told news.com.au the surcharge was due to “rampant inflation” and “Covid-19 induced hospitality difficulties”. It said it was “transparent” about fees, but “industry service fees” are not specifically mentioned on menus and the reasons behind them are not explained to customers.
In very small print, the Bavarian’s menu includes a list of its many and various extras.
These include credit card fees, a 10% “discretionary fee” for parties of 10 or more, a 10% surcharge on Sundays, and a 15% surcharge on public holidays.
There is no mention of “industry service fees”. However, the menu states that “5% service charge applies Monday-Saturday”.
“Fees must be included in the price”
According to the Queensland Government’s Office of Fair Trading, restaurant surcharges are perfectly legal as long as the extra percentage is displayed “prominently, clearly and transparently”.
But some online have questioned why a supplement should be added for six days of the week.
“Daily resort fee?” Why not just increase prices by 5% and reduce the Sunday surcharge! asked one.
This isn’t the first time The Bavarian has drawn the ire of customers with its seemingly daily service charge that you can’t avoid.
A customer at an NSW venue noticed his beer which was $8 on the menu was actually $8.40 when he came to pay after the extra charge.
“My view is that if there’s no way to avoid fees, they should be included in the price,” one said.
The Bavarian is owned by Pacific Concepts, which runs a number of other restaurant brands, including El Camino, Fratelli Fresh and Winghaus. News.com.au has looked at the menus of all these restaurants and each one also includes the odd 5% ‘service charge’ six days a week.
A Pacific spokeswoman told news.com.au the charge would be added to all bills from Monday to Saturday for an “interim period” – but no end date was given for the surcharge.
“Service charges are the result of high inflation that affects the business from across the supply chain, including food and beverage, utility and cleaning charges, as well as increases industrial wages that far exceed inflation.
“Our business continues to be impacted by the hospitality challenges induced by Covid-19. The added burden of soaring inflation and labor costs has led to our difficult decision to add service charges to the menu of all our restaurants for an interim period,” she said.
“We are completely transparent about this, with charges listed on our menus, websites and receipts.”
Angry customers have also started peppering The Bavarian’s social media platforms with complaints about the multitude of surcharges it adds to bills.
“They charge a 5% service charge Monday through Saturday and more if you use a credit card to pay. What a scam,” one wrote.
Another customer said the daily extra cost irritated him so much that “I’ll go somewhere else now on principle”.
Originally published as The Bavarian Bier Cafe frustrating customers with seemingly unavoidable ‘industry service charge’ added to bills