The question of whether or not businesses should charge extra on public holidays has cropped up again after two Bay mothers raised concerns about having to pay a surcharge on medicines.

One, Papamoa single mother Aneta Mitai, said she was charged a $2 fee per item at John's Photo Pharmacy on Cameron Rd on Anniversary Day, which totalled an extra $8 for the four items her 1-year-old needed.

"I just could not get my head around the fact they were charging per item," she told the Bay of Plenty Times.

In response, John's Photo Pharmacy owner John Heale said the store was open 8am to 8pm and government funding did not pay for everything so the businesses asked the public to pay more and "we don't have a problem with that".


People who were strongly against paying a surcharge could choose to wait till the following day, he said.

Businesses incur extra costs on public holidays because employees are entitled to time-and-a-half and a day in lieu.

Pharmacy Guild chief executive Lee Hohaia said it was standard practice to charge additional fee per item on a public holiday or after hours.

Not all services provided by healthcare professionals are fully subsidised by the government and if the costs are not recouped then the sustainability of the service could be threatened.

Of course, pharmacies are not the only sectors known to apply a surcharge on public holidays, some cafes and restaurants also choose to charge customers extra to cover costs.

Some business choose not to use a surcharge and instead add the extra cost of opening into their annual budget.

In my view, spreading the cost over the year is a better approach. It avoids getting off-side with customers.

If businesses charge customers for choosing them on a public holiday, they are entitled to do so.

However, there is the risk that it will encourage customers to go somewhere else.