Patrons swallow surcharges

By Ruth Keber news@bayofplentytimes co nz

NOT AN ISSUE: Most patrons don't mind paying the 10 per cent to 15 per cent surcharge imposed on public holidays.PHOTO/RUTH KEBER
NOT AN ISSUE: Most patrons don't mind paying the 10 per cent to 15 per cent surcharge imposed on public holidays.PHOTO/RUTH KEBER

Consumers are getting used to paying public holiday surcharges and the hospitality association says more cafes are using the system to cover staffing costs.

A Bay of Plenty Times survey showed most people who chose to eat out on New Year's Day accepted they would have to pay more.

Six of 12 cafes and restaurants in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui had decided to impose a surcharge.

Of those six, four had a 15 per cent surcharge, one cafe had a 10 per cent surcharge and the other charged an additional $1 per head.

Under the Holidays Act 2003, employers must give additional payments to employees who work on a public holiday which means restaurants and cafes face additional costs if they open on a statutory holiday.

One Mount Maunganui cafe owner said the cafe had a 10 per cent surcharge on Boxing Day, New Year's Day and the day after.

"But only those three out of the 11 public holidays, because those are the ones we have to roster on extra staff for.

"We are so busy, we have to do a surcharge to compensate for the increase in wages.

She said customers appreciated that the surcharge was lower than the the normal 15 per cent .

"Judging from what other people have said, other places are going with more but 15 per cent seems a bit steep. Regular customers were exempt from the surcharge, she said.

Bay of Plenty branch president of Hospitality New Zealand Clayton Mitchell, who also owns Mount Mellick and Ivory Boutique Restaurant and Bar, said surcharges were becoming more popular with cafes and there was a growing acceptance among customers.

If a cafe owner was paying nearly $50 an hour in staff wages per person, "that isn't going to cover sales on a coffee and a sandwiches", he said.

"You can lose money on a public holiday."

Both of his establishments used surcharges.

"When they come to you 300 days of the year, there has to be that service available to them."

Bravo owner Ryan Gregorash said he did not impose a surcharge in his restaurant and never would.

"We don't on any public holiday. I can't see a reason why we would.

"It's an excuse ... to charge their consumers more, it is an incorrect labour model that they don't know how to operate."

He said he had 27 years' experience in the industry and had always disagreed with surcharges.

Mr Gregorash had only owned Bravo for seven months and almost everybody else in the area imposed a surcharge, but he was not worried what other businesses were doing.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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