If You Split Payments, if One Person Pays by Card Does The Other Person Have to Pay The Card Surcharge if Paying by Cash?

So I dine at Chin Chin's last week with a friend, when we went to get our bill the waitress offered us split payments. She decided to pay her portion by card and was charged a card surcharge of 1.8%. I decided to pay by cash but the waitress wanted to charge me the surcharge as well because my friend paid by card. I asked her why should I have to pay the card surcharge when I'm paying cash and she just said that is the way it is - I don't blame her because she is clearly under instruction by management but how the heck is that fair?

I was careful in checking the menu's fine print and no where does it mention that is one person pays by card that the other party has to also pay the card surcharge regardless if they pay by cash or card.

She was very reluctant to let me pay my cash without the surcharge and we had to ask for a credit card refund of my friends money so I wouldn't have to pay the card surcharge. But when she came back, they decided it wasn't worth the trouble to refund the card payment and gave me my change back sans card surcharge.

UPDATE: NSW Fair Trading called me back this morning. They told me that what Chin Chin was doing was in their words was 'definitely unlegal' and they said they were going to follow this up with the restaurant. I've also made an enquiry to the ACCC about this and am waiting to hear back from them.

Also clarify, I did first raise this in writing to Chin Chin to which I got no reply and I really couldn't care less about losing a dollar or two. It's the principle whether you go about ripping people off a $1 or a $100. It reminds me of a story about an payroll officer at a fairly big company paying people 9c short for god know how many years. When he went on holidays the person who replaced him found this out and realised the 9c he was taking off people's pay check was going to him and it amounted it tens of thousands. Though a dollar or two doesn't mean much, if Chin Chin is doing this to everyone it adds up.

And no, I did not cause a massive scene that opened the gates of hell. I was polite but firm about it as I believe it will get you further than being abusive. And no friendships were harmed, we had coffee afters then went about our merry ways.


  • +40 votes

    1.8% of 1 person's dinner - let's say it was $50 (likely less) = $0.90

    Did you seriously kick up a stink over a matter of small change, when you were out to a nice dinner?

    • +164 votes

      Yes, this is OzBargain

      • +4 votes

        If it was all about the bargains, OP wouldn't be spending $50 on dinner would they…?

        God if they were paying cash, and had received good food/service that night - "Here, keep the change". Don't bitch over $1 extra in front of friends. Unless you want to be 'that guy/girl'

        • +73 votes

          Bitchy people who tell me off for being bitchy are my favourite.

        • +16 votes


          Good reply.

        • +4 votes

          @spackbace: Ummm … you made up the theoretical $50 spend! Are you ok?



          LOL they said chin chins which according to zoomato if in melbourne the average is $135 for 2 or sydney $100 for 2 so its still under $3

        • +19 votes

          If it was truly OzBargain it would have been $7 per person after entertainment book coupons, happy hour deals etc.
          That 13c all adds up!
          Might as well cause a scene, we're here for bargains not pleasurable dining.

        • +1 vote

          @qwerty: You're not doing it right if you're paying the average … as has been said many times already this is Ozbargain!

        • +14 votes

          Don't bitch over $1 extra in front of friends

          Leave the girl alone. This is ozbargain, where free pens and ebooks etc get massive votes, things worth 5c and she is concerned about paying this extra.

          And the comments that since this wasnta cheap meal, its not ozbargainable, is also crap. If so we should ban all watch, phone jewellery, business class flights, luxury cras - hey all cars , only public transport - LOL

          I agree with many of your posts as they are well thought out, but take a pill on this one.

          The principle is wrong, its not just the "$1"

        • +10 votes


          Leave the girl alone.

          Sorry, what does gender matter?

          The principle is wrong, its not just the "$1"

          No, it's situational, at least in my eyes. I got annoyed when I got slugged a surcharge for paypass at the servo. But for dinner out with friends it's pretty normal to round up in many instances. Like self-splitting the bill for example, do you go equal halves, or do you sit there and squabble because 1 person had something extra or something. Do you count your change out to be exact, or do you just round up to the nearest $1 or $5, and whoever hands the cash over chucks the change in the tip jar?

          My principles over a company charging me a few dollars extra when I've had good food/service are negated by my feelings towards friends/family and not wanting to ruin their night.

          What's the point in spending $50 or so over a nice meal, good conversation, if you go and ruin that over a few dollars? May as well have stayed home.

          I'm sound in my feelings over this one. A few dollars is not worth squabbling over to ruin a nice night.

        • +9 votes


          I don't think its the actual dollars that OP is unhappy about, but more the principal. It doesn't sound like her night was ruined… just restaurants need to make it clear.

          I usually round up as a tip if I have had a good night… but thats my choice and it goes to the waiter/waitress. The surcharge does not go towards rewarding the great service I have received, rather it goes to the owner of the restaurant.

        • +8 votes


          the principal

          So you have an interest in the principle? :)

        • +1 vote

          @Spackbace: You feelings are yours, fair enough, but you are the one who questioned the OP

          I was originally using her gender out of courtesy, so lets not get too PC about stuff etc, but I'll use "they" to make you happy (BTW I'm being light hearted with this)

          You have made a leap of faith here. Her principle, doesnt mean they nit pick over other things. Using my own standards, I too would have felt ripped off, whereas I never quibble on a split bill. If I buy less I suggest 50-50 split, if I pay more I suggest paying our share. It doesnt bother me. Point here is we have no idea what category the OP falls into.

          I think many here have been too fast to criticise based on probably wrong assumptions, and the daytime brigade seem to be more understanding of the principles and principals :-)

          And to assume their friend was "upset" by this again can't be deduced - that I can see - from the OP's post. Again if it was my friend I would have stood up for them again on principle, and had a great laugh about it on the way home.

        • -2 votes


          It doesn't sound like her night was ruined

          And I'm talking about the friend's night being ruined, and I know I'm not the only one on that page.

          OP went to the extent of saying to refund the CC payment that had already been made, which means the friend had to get involved in the discussion. It wasn't like OP just discretely went to the counter and questioned it. It then annoyed her so much, she came on here to complain, which (in my mind) meant she was 'stewing' over it for a while.

        • +3 votes

          Who's night was ruined? OP must be amused by this discussion.

        • +1 vote

          @RockyRaccoon: free pens?????

        • -2 votes

          @RockyRaccoon: "I was originally using her gender out of courtesy"

          So, would you have replied with "Leave the boy alone" if it was a guy?

        • +1 vote

          @arcticmonkey: I have no idea, but I'll meditate on it, and ask my inner self for a true response, and get back to you sometime in the far future.


          @Spackbace: have to agree with u on this one. Christ, if it is a nice night out, screw principles, pay whatever surcharges the businesses want. If not happy with the way they run, then dont come back.

        • +1 vote

          @Spackbace: If OP's friend was smart they would have asked OP for the cash and paid the entire bill on their credit card, seeing as they aren't carrying any money themselves.

        • +1 vote

          I got annoyed when I got slugged a surcharge for paypass at the servo

          Sounds like you frequent a shitty petrol station.



          Local Caltex to work, saw it on the machine. We use fuel cards, but was still surprised to see it


          @Spackbace: All g here, I didn't lose any friends nor did I cause a massive scene. I was polite but firm about it.

      • +6 votes

        seriously. I can't believe Spackbace said that here - surely he got sinbinned for that?? As should the 19 that upvoted that comment

      • +1 vote

        Sounds like a limitation with their POS system.

        They must have a manual surcharge button and it probably adds the surcharge to the entire bill which the waiter / waitress has to split.

        I’d be glad they offered to split it for you in the first place.

    • +24 votes

      It doesnt matter how much it was, if you let everyone rob you with this kind of shenanigans, i would add up over time.

    • +31 votes

      Yes, what the business did is actually ILLEGAL now. There is no lawful basis to charge a card fee (and any card fee must not be excessive).

      Paying CASH incurs no such fees.


      • +16 votes

        1.8% is pretty excessive for a CC surcharge, too. I'm surprised you're the only person bringing it up on OzBargain!

        I've actually questioned a place when buying some chips (surcharge was 2.5%, total bullshit) and the staff member got all flustered and said they wouldn't add the surcharge. I mean, it was only gonna be 20c or something, but it's the principle of the matter!


          Yes, fees can be as much as 2.2% or more for SQUARE and STRIPE processors (inc GST). Note these processors do not otherwise charge any minimum monthly fees.

          nb. fees are fully reversed for refunds.

          edit..for Stripe…

          "….Pricing is simple and predictable: 1.75% + 30c for Australian cards and 2.9% + 30c for international and American Express cards…"

    • +7 votes

      It's called principle.

      If you don't care about this, why should you care about bank fees? Why do you care about the price of your mobile bill, it's literally $1 a day.

      If I was charged a credit card surcharge when trying to pay with cash, by myself, even if it was 5c, I would still object. They're charging me for something I never agreed to.

      Whether it's 5c tacked onto your Coffee or $5000 tacked onto the price of a House, the same principles apply.

      • -7 votes

        Pretty much just read my reply here, it covers the same shit I'd write to you.

        • +13 votes

          You don't seem to understand.

          Being ripped off is what "ruins our night", which is only what happens if we simply accept the charge.

          If we have to spend 3 minutes arguing about the business about why we shouldn't have to pay extra, and we win, we actually feel better.

          Again; the actual value is irrelevant.

          You'd argue about a $500 card surcharge for a new $50,000 car you purchased if you paid by cash wouldn't you? I mean it's like 1%, who cares.

        • -7 votes


          I completely understand your closed view of the situation, you can't see mine and you're trying to simplify it when it's not.

          Let me repeat my views on this since apparently it's not sinking in:

          I can put a dollar figure on friendships, relationships, hell even fun, and under $5 is not it! I'm not ruining a night for a few dollars based on 'the principle'.

          Paying extra for a service, or some shit is not what I've been talking about at all and if you want to simplify my comments and my view then you're a fool who clearly can't understand my logic, yet I bet in the real-world you would actually just let it slide.

          You're telling me that if OPs situation was a first date, you'd still bitch and whinge in front of your date? Coz that would be hilarious if you did.

          Everything in life is situational. I could ask you if you'd kill someone which you'd likely say no, but if that would save your life or your loved ones life of course you would.

          Life is not black and white, you need to learn that.

        • +4 votes

          @Spackbace: You keep implying that the night was ruined because they chose to speak up about it. If the night was ruined, it was being overcharged that did it. If you can let things like this go that's great but stop trying to tell others that they have to be bothered by the confrontation but not by being wronged in the first place.


          Literally half your post is insulting me, I'm done here.

      • +1 vote

        Yeah yeah it’s all about principles hey.

        Like I got a friend who never wants to pay for parking and always try to find a free spot even if they have a circle around a shark under the blazing 40 degree weather with max aircon turning on in the car burning fuel and polluting the environment.


        I hate these principle arguments - there are no principles, you're only yelling "principle" because it's in your self-interest.

        I think you lot are all so small minded that you don't understand Spackbace's point, which is that it's just really not a big bloody deal. There's a reason why many of us would not admit to other non-OzBargainers that we regularly frequent this forum. It's because of people like you guys who cause huge embarrassment for the rest of the community.

        If you really feel so aggrieved about it, then do the common sense thing which is to not return to that same place again in future. Kicking up a fuss just makes you look like a loser and also is a pain on everybody else there who is paying money for a good dining experience. When I go out for dinner, the last thing I want is to be stuck waiting to pay my bill or for a waiter because someone is arguing about something non-sensical.

        It's like those idiots who go to pre-pay carparks and then don't pay causing a huge line at the exit when they argue with security on the intercom to let them out.


      Frankly a high end restuarant that charges card fees should close down forever. $450 for a bottle of Dom and if they still want 1.8% card fee, I would be over the top.

  • +13 votes

    i think by now your friend must have avoided you already..

  • +7 votes

    we had to ask for a credit card refund of my friends money so I wouldn't have to pay the card surcharge.

    I bet your friend just loved that end to a nice dinner.

  • +2 votes

    I ought to surcharge you for that confusing last paragraph. I went DR at that point.

    My take is you should botherask the restaurant and tell us the ending only.

  • +9 votes

    That is a bit strange.

    Going by your headline. I thought this was going to be another post about you arguing with your friend about not paying the surcharge when splitting the bill.

    • +4 votes

      Me too. Really weird they were being forced to pay a CC surcharge on cash. Seems more like a surcharge on allowing them to split payment.

      I hate surcharges and never pay a surcharge. I'd be annoyed on principal too.


    This argument came up before under a slightly different scenario: https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/158034.

    Obviously what the restaurant did was wrong but I don't know the legality of it. I know it's illegal to overcharge for cards now but what's the deal with cash (I don't have time to check right now since I'm doing other things)? Does there really have to be a fee-free option? I know years ago a restaurant started charging to split bills but I don't know what the deal is in 2018.

    This is one area where Australia trails behind much of the developed world.

    • +9 votes

      This is one area where Australia trails behind much of the developed world.

      I can imagine Peter Dutton standing in parliament decrying this gross injustice. No wonder people in Victoria are scared to eat out!


      Thanks for sharing! I was trying to find a similar post before to see if other people experienced it as well as the legality.

  • +26 votes

    It's just a money grab and shouldn't be tolerated. Good on you.

    Why is it that it's more often Asian outlets that are so keen to push surcharges? Not that I think it's necessarily wrong but most businesses just absorb the cost.

    • +9 votes

      I agree. I hate businesses that pull shit like this. 90c or $90 it's underhanded and dishonest.

    • +8 votes

      This Asian outlet is also owned by a footballer Chris Lucas. I think when he started the idea of opening an Asian restaurant, he also borrowed the practice of surcharging on CC?


        I can’t find anything to support your claim, unless you know him personally?

        Chris Lucas the NPL footballer is 25 years old and is not the owner of Chin Chin.


      They prefer cash.


      They have thin margins, and their cash account-keeping practices are "not stringent" at best.

  • +34 votes

    No, the surcharge should only apply to the amount put through the eftpos facility. That's why it's called a "card surcharge" and not "cash surcharge". They are basically passing on the fee they get charged per transaction by their bank, onto you. If you pay by cash, there is no fee, so it should not apply to cash payments. Spilt bills should have no impact on this. The restaurant should be reported to the relevant authority if this is their policy (no idea who that would be though).

  • -2 votes

    we had to ask for a credit card refund of my friends money so I wouldn't have to pay the card surcharge. But when she came back, they decided it wasn't worth the trouble to refund the card payment

    Yes, if they processed a refund they would also get hit a fee on the refund transaction…


      really!? a fee for the refund?


        My wife used to work in a restaurant and she said yes, so I can only take her word for it. Unless they manage to void it before theybsett5the terminal perhaps?

        Both normal transactions and refunds have to be processed electronically and that what the fee is for I suppose.

    • +4 votes

      No, there are no fees to process refunds.

      Source: I work for a payments acquirer


      Yep if its like aldi a refund attracts their fee and therefore u get slightly more back if you refund back to a card. Of course this only covers the fee you got charged in the first place…


    Chin chin?
    Nice name..

  • +2 votes

    But when she came back, they decided it wasn't worth the trouble

    At least one sane person in this story!

    • +6 votes

      I should state I agree you shouldn't pay the surcharge, but I also live life in a way so the most I would do in objection is to say "hey, that's not fair, but I understand the hassle caused by splitting bills that you did in the first place has meant you now have a small charge you can't easily account for with your restaurant systems, so I will graciously cop it and still leave you personally a tip because you tried to be a good and helpful waitperson."

      Then secretly hold the story in reserve for future OzBargain comments.

      • +8 votes

        I don't know why splitting a bill 2-ways is such a hassle? If it is why does the restaurant offer it? Splitting payments between card and cash is not a new thing and is offered as a form of payment at many shops and restaurants. I have never before heard of a surcharge on the cash portion.

        If split bills/payments is causing issues for the restaurant they need to invest in a better POS system.

        This is the restaurant's issue, not OP's.

        • +1 vote

          This. Never understood why in this day and age restaurants are so traumatised by bill splitting…

          Maybe just cause I’m stingy, but this is why I love pubs and such where you pay up front.

  • +28 votes

    Philosophically, this post is a good example of how behavioural economics works. If you drive to the next suburb to save 2c a litre on petrol, nobody bats an eye, but the social environment contingent on a shared meal speaks to ignoring little costs because we do so hoping to gain greater overall value from the transaction than the purely utilitarian purchase of a commodity.
    And sociologically, it is interesting that the whole transaction is such the OP was prepared to type out a long post to seek validation. And some guy here will type up a response to share their own thoughts when the overall chance of influencing the matter is nil, and the possibility of influencing future similar situations is close to nil. What funny monkeys we are.

    I wouldn't have caused a fuss. But then, my wife teases me almost 30 years after a bad Chinese meal when I said I would say something, and my milquetoast comment was "your food was pretty ordinary" as I meekly paid the bill in full.

    • +5 votes

      Some good observations but I would say that if more people took actions like the OP the restaurant may be motivated to finally invest in a better POS system. (if that was the reason for surcharge on cash split payment)

      At the moment the restaurant is able to get away with it because of exactly what you just described.


      Its ozbargain for christsake, we troll here for free ebooks and pens… You are preaching to the wrong parish

    • +1 vote

      I liked your eloquent comment. However I agree with op that I should not pay any surcharge if I paid by cash, restaurant clearly need to update its split charge system. This is just human nature, it is a person's choice to drive more to save 2c petrol but clearly the restaurant forced the diner to pay surcharge despite paying cash. That is why op is disturbed by the restaurant and post on this forum.


      Have you read the book Predictably Irrational? ;)


        No, but it rings a bell. Maybe Ross Gittens wrote about it.


          Dan Ariely actually, he did talk about a similar point where the same people who spends time and effort cutting coupons (American book) to save a few dollars would not put in the same bargain hunting effort when buying bigger item like a car or a house.
          Sounds like ozb community to me ;)
          He's got some good Ted talks if social economics is your thing.

  • +8 votes

    Legally not allowed to charge you the surcharge. Report them to ACCC.


      ACCC says they can only charge the costs they pay, not extra. A surcharge is OK if it reflects their extra costs, which may be higher if they made multiple EFTPOS charges (for example, not the case here), and that includes extra staff time etc., so if split bills take 5 mins they can allow for that.

      • +12 votes

        Actually not true, they can only charge for the incurred direct costs associated with the transaction. Extra staff time required to process the transaction is irrelevant, you would have to pay that staff to do their job no matter what happened, or how long it takes. Not to mention the proprietor agreed to allow the splitting of the bill, of course its going to take longer to process the transaction.

        If you took your argument literally, then any time you take longer than average to process your transaction, you should be paying for the employees time to process it, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.


          Does anyone have this rule in writing? I asked above but no one replied. The ACCC pretty much says you can do what you want with cash and other payment options not covered by the new regulations (https://www.accc.gov.au/consumers/prices-surcharges-receipts...).

          If a standard cash surcharge for splitting bills was written as for corkage and holidays would they legally get away with it as long as GST was paid? For some reason most questions like this turn into bullying and opinion polls and you're lucky to get a researched answer.

        • +1 vote

          @peterpeterpumpkin: Lets say for arguments sake, they had terms that said 5% "corkage" for splitting bills, if you as a consumer saw these terms and conditions at a restaurant lets say, would you actually go and eat there ? All the business costs are factored into the price you pay, and you shouldnt have to pay a cent more than they charge you for your meal if you are paying cash.
          Otherwise they would be operating at a loss per meal and would eventually fold.

          As long as they were upfront about it, and told you before you ordered, they could legally charge it, but who in their right mind would go and eat there if that was the case, i definitely would not support those kind of business practices.

        • -3 votes


          Friend was already happy to pay the surcharge, so they were going to eat there regardless. OP should have seen the surcharge notice beforehand and suggested another restaurant…. subway or macdonalds perhaps

  • +7 votes

    You shouldn't have to pay card surcharge paying cash. I would post this story to Chin Chin Facebook page and wait for a reasonable reply

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