Recently I've been noticing a trend when I visit restaurants here in Sydney. The dreaded credit card surcharge. I think we're all used to being asked to pay a 2% or 2.5% fee for using Amex as their merchant fees have always been higher than Visa or Mastercard. And this is at almost all retail locations, not just restaurants. But lately a number of restaurants are adding a percentage, usually 1%, to their bills for using a credit card, full-stop. Now, that's annoying in my opinion, as hardly anyone uses cash at restaurants these days and the merchant fees should be costed into the prices. In today's cashless society it's like asking me to pay a surcharge to simply pay my bill. That's frustrating.
Now what really got me going recently was a visit to my local Bavarian Bier Cafe here in Crows Nest.
The Gourmet Female and I sat down for a quick dinner after work one night, a half schnitzel, some calamari, a pretzel, and a couple drinks. Total, just under $50. Not a big bill but not a small amount, either, for about 45 minutes at our table. A quick and profitable turn.
You can imagine my surprise when the bill arrived and I see what I thought was a 2% surcharge. Really? They're going to tack on a full 2% to use a card? But then I see it clearer - it's a $2 surcharge. For a $48.90 bill. In my maths that's over a 4% markup to use a credit card. In fact, to be equal with other establishments charging 1% you'd have to have a bill that's $200 or more. Highway robbery!
I mentioned my frustration to the waitress about a 4% credit card surcharge and she says, "It's $2. The percentage depends on how much you spend." Yep, got that. She obviously missed the point. So I mentioned my frustration in my comment card and on Twitter. Did I get any response? Nope. I mean, why would I? It's obviously a bit of a money spinner in most situations. I'm guessing there are few tables spending over $200 - and that's accepting that charging an additional 1% is acceptable in the first place. Funnily enough, the surcharge isn't mentioned on their website menu.
In any case, what do you think? Should restaurants accept that people pay most times with a card and factor that into their prices? And do you think a flat $2 fee is acceptable? If you're with me, let the restaurants know. I'll grind my teeth and accept the occasional 1% but I'm not going to visit any place that blindly charges a flat fee, regardless of total. But that's just me...