Charged Holiday Surcharge for Christmas Lunch Package

Hi everyone,

So my partner and I couldn't make it back to QLD for Christmas due to my partner not being able to get out of work before the border closed due to COVID. As a result, we went out for Christmas Lunch at a restaurant that was advertising an $89 Lunch with an optional $39 drinks package, which we both took. We weren't expecting to be charged a surcharge of $38.40 on top of this price, which effectively takes the package to $147 each rather than $128 each.

I've looked on the restaurant's website and there's no mention of a surcharge on the page advertising the Christmas Lunch package.

I get it's been a tough year for hospitality and that you've got to pay staff extra on Christmas, but am I justified in feeling a bit annoyed that they charged us more than what we expected? Is this standard practice for such a package? Asking out of genuine curiosity as this is the first time I haven't been with family over Christmas.

Would I be justified in contacting the restaurant and querying them about it, or should I cut my losses? Frankly it's $38 that I would prefer to have.

TIA and I hope you all had a fantastic Christmas.

Poll Options

  • 438
    Call them and ask for the $38 back
  • 33
    Cut your losses, they're justified in charging a surcharge


  • +10

    I don't like the concept of these surcharges (e.g. 10% on pizza deliveries on weekends) which we didn't have in the UK. Absolutely they need to cover costs of paying people extra which I think should be baked into the cost itself.

    Nothing stopping you calling and asking about it. It probably is written somewhere that you may have missed. If you get it back, great, if not, then you tried and move on. Don't really need to overthink it that much.

    • +67

      Why should I pay extra on Monday to cover your more expensive pizza on Sunday? I much prefer surcharges that are applied to cover the specific extra cost, as long as clearly advertised, rather than general cost inflation.

      Mind you, it is outrageous to charge a Xmas surcharge on top of a special Xmas menu, unless they offer that deal on other days.

      • -11

        This opens up the whole topic of why should people be paid extra on weekends but not rest of the week. Why not pay people decently throughout for a minor bump in prices.

        Or another viewpoint is, conversely, why should they paid extra at all if that's their work week i.e. Wed-Sun instead of Mon-Fri.

        We could go around in circles for days though as all sides have pros/cons and subjective views.

        • +33

          Legacy; Penalty rates are typically required to attract workers as weekends are when 'things' are done (sport, gatherings, short trips, R&R etc). You are being paid extra because you might be missing out on something, same as night shift.
          I could not care less if shops shut at noon on Saturday again.

          • -15


            I could not care less if shops shut at noon on Saturday again.

            Yes but you live in a nanny state. I moved so I could have shops open more and would never look to move back to SA.

            That being said, surcharges need to be advertised UP FRONT. So OP: Ask for your money back.

          • +10

            @Nugs: Yes, woke up a while ago to the fact that life is about more than being able to shop, dine - consume 24/7.
            If like OP I want to dine when many others want to do other things a surcharge is fine. They should make it clear up front though - like when the reservation is made.

          • +2

            @Nugs: weekends are also busier so you are doing more work load

      • +1

        Why should I pay extra on Monday to cover your more expensive pizza on Sunday?

        Yoh probably already do, the public holiday surcharge is likely just cream on the top.

      • You will only pay 1/360 of that extra given that NSW has 15 public holidays to cover. You'd pay that in a similar way you pay a bit extra so the prices in the shop don't go up every Saturday and Sunday…

        You gat ripped off every four years.

        • This is true, I guess. The surcharge might be better seen as a marketing thing reminding customers that staff get penalty rates.
          I think I need to look at it more dispassionately, thanks.

      • +9

        That makes no sense.

        A percentage surcharge on public holidays is opportunistic price gouging as there are limited options available.

        Should we have a 5% surcharge on sales during on peak power times? Should we have a 2.5% evening surcharge to cover evening loads? Should we have a 5% night surcharge to cover night loads? Should businesses charge a 100% low demand surcharge during quite times?


        The service industry managed to budget for public holiday rates fine before the industry outsider owned three year restaurant trend. Big business has taken advantage of that and stolen entitlements while creating percentage surcharges.

        Businesses should price their products to cover their costs and if they are not profitable on public holidays or Sundays they should reassess their business model or close for those days.

        • +3

          A percentage surcharge on public holidays is opportunistic price gouging as there are limited options available.

          I've never understood this "opportunistic price gouging" nonsense. Nobody's forcing you to pay/buy. If you don't like it, then don't buy.

          Businesses should price their products to cover their costs and if they are not profitable on public holidays or Sundays they should reassess their business model or close for those days.

          Hahaha, so they should just close their business on Sundays if they're not profitable rather than try to add a surcharge to make them profitable? Lol what? Who are you to tell someone when they should open and close their business anyway?

          FWIW, I'm not defending the hospitality sector. I don't own a restaurant, never worked in one…etc. I just think the moral high-mindedness of this all is silly. Restaurants are in the business of extracting as much money out of you as possible, as are most businesses. Acting like this is something new or strange is ignorance at best, disingenuous at worst.

          I've always found the solution to these issues rather simple. If you don't like the surcharge, eat elsewhere. If there are no other places without surcharges, cook your own food. Obviously hidden surcharges are extremely dodgy, but the idea of a surcharge in general is not.

          • +1

            @p1 ama: Not how restaurants work. For two hours of profitable service you might be looking at loosing wages on a further six hours of low sales, prep and cleaning either side. You price your menu to cover this.

            Most prep and a fair amount of cleaning can be moved to a non public holiday.

            You short staff your front of house just incase you are slow and schedule your reliable call in staff around the public holiday to stop them from leaving the area. You use your cheaper staff, like young workers and apprentices. You start sending front of house home as soon as rush finishes.

            All this should get you down to ~40% to 60% staffing levels, making budgeted wages around their normal cost for that business (generally a third of costs or a fifth to a quarter of income).

            Businesses like Domino's where the head office has separated the variable labour from the 'restaurant' by making many store's franchisee's should have the extra staffing costs worn by head office as head office profits from this structure. As it is, there is clearly stupid margin in well run Domino's franchises as even the poorly run franchises can afford to trade on a public holiday with only a 10% surcharge instead of the 20% to 25% the rest of the industry would need if they couldn't reduce public holiday labour by under staffing and prepping the day before.

            tl;dr: There is no need for a % surcharge in hospitality as it is already an industry that massively time shifts duties to avoid penalty rates.

      • +5

        For the most part, many of the retailers have managed to erode penalty rates in their awards/EBAs so they don't pay them anyway. If Domino's isn't paying any extra to their staff member on Sunday, why should they be allowed to charge 15% extra to the customer to cover their non-existent extra expense?

        As to whether the surcharges are justified even with the penalty rates - why exactly is it that it's only the hospo industry that seems to need to charge extra to cover what is effectively a cost of business? We don't get prices amortised down to a wage surcharge, a power surcharge, a rent surcharge, a cash management surcharge, an insurance surcharge, etc. It's incumbent on every business to set prices that cover all of their costs and a fair profit. Say what you will, I think surcharges of all kinds commonly charged by Australian retailers (public holiday surcharges, weekend surcharges, credit card surcharges) are all a load of crap. Pure profiteering.

        • why should they be allowed to charge 15% extra to the customer to cover their non-existent extra expense?

          Because they are free to charge whatever they want as long as it is clear upfront. They don't have to justify it to you. If you don't like it, take your business elsewhere. You sound like the sort of guy who complains about a surcharge and then continues to pay it whilst complaining just to make yourself feel better.

          Pure profiteering.

          Which is the entire point of running a business. Again, if you don't like it, take your business elsewhere.

  • As a result, we went out for Christmas Lunch at a restaurant that was advertising an $89 Lunch with an optional $39 drinks package, which we both took.

    Where and how was this advertised? As a Christmas lunch? On a standard menu? Via the waiter? In the window?

    • I found it by googling venues that were hosting Christmas Lunch, they have a "What's On" page on their website which gave some details about it, but none of the linked pages mention a surcharge, including the promotional poster for the lunch.

      The standard menu mentions a 15% surcharge on public holidays, however we weren't given the standard menu at all.

      • +4

        38.40 works out to be a 15% surcharge. Non-standard menu for Christmas is quite common.

        • -7

          Trex is spot on here, $128 + 15% = $147 each.
          Since you're aware the standard menu states 15% surcharge, it appears correct. Consider yourself doing the right thing for that restaurant.

          • +10

            @S2: If I am paying for a Christmas lunch I expect the price includes any fees already, as non standard menu.

            • +5

              @beesquared: If they advertise a Christmas lunch special, it’s a bit rude to ask for more. In fact it’s very misleading! Regardless if they have a surcharge for public holidays..:

              Surcharge should apply to standard menu items. Not a Xmas day special.

              Ask for a refund, if they don’t then they can be shamed.

            • +9

              @beesquared: To get to the technicality of matters of if it is impossible to pay the price listed it shouldn't be legal. So if you can only order it on Christmas, but can't avoid the Christmas surcharge it shouldn't be allowed to be advertised. They may as well be advertising without gst

  • +146

    Maybe it was an old menu with new waiter?

  • +5

    If they've adequately signposted it on entry then i feel you've already agreed to it, if they haven't go for it.

  • +8

    I'm okay with places doing surcharges on days when they must pay their staff more. I'm happy to pay it and support people earning more on say Sundays or public holidays. It needs to be well advertised though. It wouldn't hurt for them to mention it as well.

    • +31

      I agree, I mean I'm not over the moon about it but if it's well advertised then I consider that fair enough if you're ordering from the standard menu.

      This was a Christmas Day only package, so it would make the most sense to me to include any surcharges in that package price, rather than tacking it on at the end when it's time to pay.

      • +2

        If it was the only thing you could get on Christmas Day that makes sense, but if you could order other stuff instead or as well and there was a surcharge on that stuff it makes sense to have the non-surcharge price, but it should have had a prominent note about the surcharge.

      • -5

        I think it would be more confusing to include it in this package price, since then it would be different from the other pricing that doesn’t include the public holiday pricing.

        Public holiday and Sunday surcharges have been around forever, get over it and move on.

        • Well I know I enjoy my midday discount compared to the evening prices. Nobody enjoys seeing extra fees, charges, levies added to a bill. Just build it into the overall costs. Many casuals in hospitality get not extra for working Xmas compared to a Saturday.

  • +18

    On one hand everyone knows restaurants have surcharges on public holidays and often weekends as well. On the other, I do believe this should be clear on the menu, booking page and advertising. I believe it's law that the advertised price be the price charged and given this was a Christmas Day lunch, which is clearly a public holiday, the 15% surcharge should've been included in the price or clearly shown as being additional. You'd be in your right to question it IMO.

    • This exactly. Covers everything I wanted to say.

  • which effectively takes the package to $147 each

    $294 is not the ozb 🎄. You should've chowed down on some 🍗, 🍟 and Pepsi.

    • +4

      It's tradition in Japan to eat KFC on Christmas Day, I'd have been perfectly happy with that.

      Best to keep the girlfriend happy though

    • +3

      Holy cow, it's getting quite expensive to keep up with the Jones these days.

  • -1

    Restaurants typically have a 10% surcharge (YMMV) on the total bill for public holidays. Exception being fast food like McD, KFC ( any others? )

    • +3

      Not in most Victorian places…

      • +1

        Soon they'll be adding a mandatory "service" fee, ie..tip!

        • +1

          Uuuggghhh god no! Already annoying being asked what tip I’d like to leave.

      • maybe not the places you went to but when I went for breakfast and dinner on Melbourne Cup public holiday last year there were public holiday surcharges at both places.

    • +3

      It's a Christmas lunch… There's literally no way to reach the advertised price as the product was only sold on Christmas.

      Lots of restaurants don't have surcharges on public holidays, the extra business makes up for it, in fact it's where most of the money is made.

  • +1

    I don't like surcharges either, once we were in a large group of 15. and were at the a casino restaurant had imposed a group surcharge ( for over 10). Mind you that they didn't organize the table allow a group sitting as they had fixed booths.

    Not sure why the group leader didn't just spit the bill and have 2 smaller groups.

  • +27

    Strange that they would put a surcharge on what specifically is a Christmas lunch. Shouldn't it be included? It is not the standard menu

    • It's the time for giving, NOT!!

  • +1

    Are you sure they did not charge you for an extra drink package on accident?
    Or maybe was there a 10% tip option that came up on the eftpos machine and you did not see it, some restaurants sneakily do this.
    It seems very strange there would be an surcharge on the advertised price for a Christmas lunch. As it is specifically for Christmas the price would be inclusive.
    A surcharge would be on a regular menu item on specific days like a public holiday.

  • +14

    Surcharge on top of standard menu is fair and I support it. But this sounds like a Xmas designed menu for Xmas and hence the advertised pricing should be final.

  • +4

    All surcharges have to be disclosed. And that pricing definitely felt like public holiday rates.

    Take a screenshot of their ad for Christmas Lunch. Then query the total of the lunch, and mention you hadn't seen where the surcharge was advertised. It was for this reason that I asked / reminded my husband to get a receipt every time he paid for things. Makes it easier to see what happened.

    Once you have this information, refer it to Fair Trading in your state. They may not be able to get your money back, but a call from them to the restaurant may encourage them, and others, to play fair.

  • Did you say anything when you were presented the bill?

    • At that point, I was 5 or 6 espresso martinis deep and didn't want to kick up a stink. I'll be calling them tomorrow.

  • Could you have offered to pay cash? Knowing hospo they would have been pocketing the surcharge

  • +5

    A tough year…. these people have been scamming you for years with exorbitant prices, and now even the Govt paid them your tax money in order to stay afloat. They exert their workers and keep them on casual so as to exploit them further. Then have the audacity to charge you a "FEE" on top.

  • +3

    We've done Xmas lunches at venues on Qld (Sunshine Coast) for several years when my Dad could not make the trip to Brisbane anymore. We booked in advance The advertised price was paid on booking and there were no more charges.

    IMHO this is how it should work. They advertise Xmas lunch, so they should advertise the actual cost which would factor in a surcharge for the extra they have to pay staff.

  • +2

    Personally I am fine with surcharges as long as they are clearly communicated when booking / ordering - that is either on a board, on a menu, or even verbal from wait staff.

    To me the problem is not the costs, but being caught off guard (things shouldn't be hidden) as it makes the whole transaction just feel dodgy.

  • 10ish% seems to be the norm for public holidays (from my own experience anyway), 30% is a big rough, especially if it weren't mentioned anywhere.

    Also makes you wonder if the staff are getting paid extra or not.

    • ok re-read the post again, it was $38.40 on the overall bill, not per person, so as per above, around 15%, which is in line with what was stated on the menu.

  • +7

    Call accc
    Ask them if it’s false advertising
    Seems really dodgy to me.

    You charge more on christmas to cover all costs.

    Advertising one price then charging another is shady AF.

  • +2

    Yeah this is bullshit. A surchange on a CHRISTMAS SPECIAL package?

    Clearly very dodgy to say the least, and I'd argue misleading pricing…

    • +2

      I agree it's bs.
      Basically the package has been advertised cheaper that it actually is on purpose to draw suckers in.

    • +1

      You can work my Christmas Day shifts if you like with standard pay rate

      • Would love to. Better than having to take forced leave and sitting at home watching Netflix.

        • You get paid the same. You have no idea

  • +1

    The votes speak for themselves, imo, if it wasn't mentioned on the page you used to order off and not mentioned to you when you booked or were in the restaurant, its pretty poor form and very sneaky to advertise a specific Xmas package cost then add 15% to it. You tried to support local a business and got stung.

  • Was there an invoice? Did it have the surcharge on it?

  • +2

    OP it could have been worse that you could been asked to pay $161.70 because the $147 does not include GST! 🤣🤦🏻‍♂️

  • Would practice like this be even legal?

  • +1

    Isn't it illegal to do this? I thought the ACCC made it so that couldn't happen? So rather than a blanket 10% holiday surcharge (which to me is mostly ridiculous as the extra business will more than cover the wages…) They could have the prices include the surcharge, so have specific menus for those days etc. Strange law but I'm certain it still exists..

  • -2

    Guess you could have gone to McDonald's instead.

  • +3

    What a sneaky dishonest Business. I would leave a review along the lines of Ruined our Christmas. Advertised a Christmas lunch price, then after we had eaten it, told us it was actually 15% more and we had to pay,

  • +1

    I just had a look at a few Melbourne restaurants with Xmas 2020 menus still on line.

    All set menus and none mentioned anything about a public holiday surcharge.

    I would have been pretty pissed if I paid more than normal for the meal (mandatory set menu @ Xmas prices) and then they added a surcharge. Especially if that surcharge was not mentioned on the menu they gave me.

  • So did you get a refund? Where was this at

    • +1

      I'll be calling them tomorrow. Figured I'd give them the weekend to deal with the Boxing Day through to the public holiday and approach them when it's a bit quieter.

      I'll post an update once I get a resolution.

      • What happened? Any updates?

  • I'd ask for the money back. Willing to bet you weren't the only guests gouged

  • +1

    OP, does the restaurant start with an "F"?

  • If the restaurant serves the same lunch package on days leading to Christmas, then it is reasonable to charge extra on Christmas day. The surcharge is probably mentioned somewhere however obscure.

    If the lunch package is only available on Christmas day, then I would totally expect the lunch package includes all charges.

    So, is the lunch package available on other days?

  • +4

    My 2 cents from someone from the hospitality industry
    I personally hate sunday/public holiday surcharges, as I dont perceive as getting more value so I generally dont go, However, my personal feelings dont matter

    Im no lawyer, but i think there is some law that says you cant advertise a price thats unobtainable,

    that being said, everybody knows that christmas/nye packages are going to be more expensive and special

    to have the surcharge written in fine print and charging later is deceptive, even worse if its not even written on there, and written somewhere else like their website or a sign when they get to the venue

    to design a menu for a particular day/event and then surcharge is beyond disgusting/opportunistic

    regardless of whether staff are paid extra or not, or whether its covid or not

    Id say name and shame if they dont give you the refund

    • +2

      This ACCC Article on component pricing looks like it covers this situation.

      The advertising media must specify the total price in a prominent position. Given that the minimum amount anyone could pay for the set menu was $102.35 (89 + 15%), this is what should have been on the ad.

  • +2

    There should be no surcharges on any day. Businesses can cope with paying reasonable wages. The business doesn't have to open on Sundays or public holidays if they don't want to.

  • +7

    Based on the prices and the location, the OP could be referring to this restaurant/menu:

    As the OP stated, there is no mention of a public holiday surcharge on the Christmas menu.

    The menu also only appears to apply on Christmas Day.

Login or Join to leave a comment