Sydney pub The Oxford Hotel has responded to backlash by online punters after a customer accused staff of charging a 37 per cent “late night surcharge”, allegedly without communicating it beforehand. Fkn yikes.
“Recently we have been criticised on social media for time dependent price changes. Our pricing does increase in line with increased operating expenses,” the business wrote on Facebook.
“These expenses are made up of DJs, drag performers, sound and lighting technicians, security personnel, and late night and penalty rates paid to staff. We provide free entertainment six days per week. Offering these services and entertainment would not be possible without price increases.”
The statement then noted the pub offers specials and discounts throughout the week, which it claimed would not be possible without its late night surcharge.
“The alternative to pricing that increases in line with operating expenses (and the entertainment being offered to our guests) is to increase prices across the board. We don’t think that is fair,” the statement continued.
“The product in question increased in price by around 29 per cent. We acknowledge this was an error. The increase was supposed to have been 8 per cent.
“The error has been rectified and we are grateful to the customer for bringing this to our attention – we are reducing the price of beer this weekend as a result. This Friday and Saturday we are offering $20 jugs of any beer in the main bar between 9PM and 11PM.”
ICYMI, the annoyed patron took to Reddit to ask others if late night surcharges were normal, after they found themselves out of pocket more than they expected.
“I was at a bar in Sydney and my mate and I were buying jugs of beer as rounds,” the post began.
“I bought a jug of Newtowner at 9:18pm for $24.36 and when it was my round next at 10:37pm the price charged was $33.50.
“I paid for it not looking at the price but Apple Pay has notifications when you pay for things and I noticed the price difference in the notifications.”
The poster said when they asked staff about the price, they were informed of a “late night surcharge after 10pm”.
“I’ve never heard of a late night surcharge before and it’s a 30 per cent increase!” the Reddit user claimed.
The customer then alleged there was “no signage to notify anyone of the fee after 10pm” and asked if this was legal, before revealing the bar in question was The Oxford Hotel in Darlinghurst.
The price increase of the jugs is more than 37 per cent, which is fkn huge compared to typical late night surcharge prices of around five to 10 per cent.
Having a late night surcharge is legal and honestly, at this point, common in Sydney. However, surcharges need to be printed on menus and/or made clear to the customer. So, if the surcharge isn’t on the menu or advertised to the consumer in any way, then yeah, that’s not right.
The Oxford Hotel’s online menu does not specify any surcharges, but it also doesn’t have a drinks menu listed at all. It would depend on if the surcharge is advertised on in-store menus — The Oxford Hotel did not immediately respond to PEDESTRIAN.TV’s request for comment on this matter.
Some Reddit users pointed out that late night surcharges are becoming increasingly common in Sydney — one person noted even fast food franchise Dominos has a 10 per cent surcharge for deliveries after 10pm and for Sundays — but there seemed to be a general understanding that nearly 40 per cent is pretty steep (which we now know was too expensive).
“Late night surcharging is nothing new. What you paid seems somewhat excessive though,” one person wrote.
“A jug of Newtowner for $33 is outrageous,” another said.
Others speculated that the establishment might have tacked on the surcharge due to penalty rates — even though the penalty loading for staff who work after 10pm is only a couple of dollars per hour, and certainly not anywhere near 37 per cent. The eight per cent the venue claims to actually charge as a surcharge makes a lot more sense, though it’s still higher than the usual 5 per cent.
Some commenters on the post were pretty outraged about the surcharge, and accused the establishment of contributing to Sydney’s lack of nightlife — especially considering 10pm is not that late.
“Holy crap. A self inflicted lockout law?” one person quipped.
“Sydney sucks fucking ass to go out,” another complained.
“It’s like they want to punish you for going out. Bet the same c*nts have a big whinge in the media about how people don’t want to go out anymore.”
Some angry Redditors even took to Google Reviews to review bomb The Oxford Hotel over the late night surcharge, which they called a “scam”, “theft” and “appalling”.
“They add a ‘late night surcharge’ without informing you about it,” the first review to set it all off alleged.
“It’s a bar. When else are you supposed to drink?”
A review from a few months ago also accused the establishment of hiking prices during WorldPride.
“The Oxford has been a great hangout in the past. Unfortunately their surge pricing over World Pride to skim the community they aim to serve left a bitter taste, with prices literally up 30 to 40 per cent,” it read.
The Oxford Hotel has not responded to PEDESTRIAN.TV’s requests for comment.