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Shock as Melbourne cafe charges Aussie $8.18 for single coffee on public holiday

Public holiday surcharges as high as 20 per cent have hit customers this King's Birthday weekend.

Melbourne coffee
David said he was "very surprised" after he was hit with a hefty surcharge on his morning coffee. (Source: TikTok)

A Melbourne man says he was slugged with an “excessive” surcharge to buy a cup of coffee on the King’s Birthday public holiday. But it’s actually perfectly legal.

Restaurants and cafes across most of the country have been imposing surcharges to their prices across the long weekend. And one Aussie found out, this can add up very quickly.

David, who goes by @thebearded86 on TikTok, told Yahoo Finance he was shocked after he was charged $8.18 for a medium almond cappuccino at a cafe in East Melbourne. He said he was charged a 15 per cent public holiday surcharge, along with a surcharge for using his card.

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“Don’t get me wrong I know almond milk costs extra but I think 15 per cent is excessive,” David said.

“The cafe was full! People were outside. And there weren’t that many staff. So whilst I acknowledge they need to pay penalty rates I thought it was excessive.”

Businesses will often charge customers surcharges on weekends and public holidays because it costs them more money to open due to penalty rates paid to staff.

While a 10 to 15 per cent surcharge is often seen as the norm, consumer advocate Christopher Zinn said some businesses were imposing surcharges as high as 20 per cent on diners but this was more “rare”.

Do you have a story to share? Contact tamika.seeto@yahooinc.com

Yes, it is legal for restaurants and cafes to charge a surcharge on certain days. This is usually on weekends or public holidays.

However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says the surcharge needs to be prominently displayed to customers.

“If they charge such a surcharge, they must include these words on the menu: A surcharge of [percentage] applies on [day or days],” the ACCC said.

There actually is no limit on what the surcharge can be. Businesses are free to set their own public holiday surcharge rates.

Businesses are also allowed to charge a surcharge for paying by card, but this must not be more than what it costs the business to use that payment type.

David posted a video on TikTok asking other Aussies if they thought $8.18 was too expensive for a cup of coffee, even on a public holiday.

Many Aussies agreed with David that the price was too much, with one calling it “crazy” and another saying it was a “rip off”.

“I’m sorry WHAT?!? Where in Melbourne does coffee cost over $8 for a medium coffee??” one user said.

“I would have said no thank you and [walked] away,” another said.

“WOW!! Yes that is expensive, even on a public holiday!” another added.

Others argued it was just business, with one saying they hoped the extra money went into the workers' pockets at the end of the day.

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