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Tourist cops 10% 'surcharge' in retail store as 'absolutely infuriating' trend emerges

Consumers have been warned to be on the look out for this new charge after a salesperson slugged a shopper with tax for shopping on a Sunday.

A tourist was shocked to be slapped with a 10 per cent "Sunday surcharge" when purchasing a pair of sunglasses at a popular Aussie tourist destination. But a retail expert has warned the "absolutely infuriating" trend is becoming all the more common.

Geoff Tapping, a resident of Noosa, Queensland, was accompanying a UK visitor on a shopping trip to a store on the Gympie Terrace when they were charged an extra $2.50 on top of the $25 price for the eyewear.

"At the till, the sales girl was ringing them up when she proclaimed 'Oh it's Sunday, that will be $27.50',” he said.

“Our visitor was a little taken aback, but paid, thinking it must be some quaint Noosa custom. In the years that we have lived here, I have had experience in cafes etc. adding a surcharge for public holidays, but never of a marked price being upped because it was a Sunday.”

A woman walks along the boardwalk in Noosa with shopping bags.
A tourist was surprised to be charged an extra 10 per cent when buying a pair of sunglasses in Noosa. (Source: Getty, file photo)

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Customer experience advisor Aileen Day told Yahoo Finance that this may be a sign of things to come nationwide and consumers need to be on the lookout for these extra charges.

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She said that despite it being a common trend in the hospitality industry, the retail sector was starting to “feel compelled to start passing on fees and charges” too.

“They're also starting to feel quite confident and comfortable in charging additional costs of doing business. We all know that it costs more to have employees work on public holidays and perhaps Sundays,” Day said.

Day said it was “absolutely infuriating” that weekend surcharges were being passed on to retail customers.

“From a customer experience point of view and a business operations point of view, it legitimately leaves such a poor taste in the experience of the customer. I kind of get punished for giving you my business," Day said.

Customers want to get out and about on the weekend, support local businesses and socialise while stimulating the economy but were being “stung”, she said.

The advisor added that businesses who legitimately need to increase prices or pass on expenses need to think differently about their approach and potentially make small increases in the long term rather than slamming customers with heavy surcharges.

“It is opportunistic, it is bad business. You deserve to lose customers,” Day said.

Noosa from the air.
The tourist was visiting popular Aussie tourist destination Noosa when they were slugged with the surprise cost. (Source: Getty, file photo)

Tapping shared his experience in a post online and said he did not want to “name and shame” the business, however, he invited people to share their thoughts on the practice.

The post sparked fiery debate with many outraged locals calling for Tapping to out the business, while others attempted to justify why the retail worker may have added on the surcharge, suggesting that the 10 per cent fee was perhaps a credit card surcharge.

“Yeah that’s weird. Only businesses I’ve ever known to have a Sunday or public holiday surcharge is cafes/restaurants. Otherwise its prices marked,” one user wrote.

“Probably a credit card surcharge not a public holiday or Sunday fee. Yes 10 per cent is a lot but I’m guessing it’s more likely a flat rate for using cc or similar,” another commented.

Someone else said they had a similar surcharge applied to them in nearby Noosa Heads.

“Happened to me in Hastings Street, small supermarket down near the surf club, was grabbing a drink from the fridge. The guy behind the counter rung it up, I saw the surcharge, put it back.”

One group member questioned why it was only acceptable for cafes and restaurants to charge a fee, while another asked “would you go shopping to Woolworths if you would have to pay 10 per cent more on a Sunday?”

The UK visitors should get a refund and “buy them at Monday’s price”, another member joked.

According to the guidelines on price displays set out by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) “businesses must display clear and accurate prices".

"They must not mislead consumers about their prices,” the guidelines said.

“Sometimes the price of an item in store or online at the checkout may not match the displayed or advertised price in store or online."

Their guidelines state that if this happens “even by mistake” then the business must either sell the product for the lower price or stop selling it until the price is corrected.

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