Customers rage at Sydney pub’s ‘awful’ act

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A popular Sydney venue has come under fire after customers revealed they were being hit with a sneaky surcharge, resulting in the pub being hit with multiple one star reviews.

The Oxford Hotel is an iconic CBD venue, however, customers have been left less than impressed after discovering they were being slugged with an extra cost for their late-night partying.

In a post to the Sydney Reddit group, a customer asked whether anyone else had experienced a “late night surcharge” at the venue.

The poster revealed they had recently visited The Oxford Hotel with a friend, with the pair buying jugs of beer as rounds.

At 9.18pm they bought a jug of Newtowner for $24.36 but when they went to buy their next round at 10.37pm they were reportedly charged $33.50 for the same beer. This is a more than 27 per cent increase in price.

The poster claimed the price of drinks increased after 10pm. Picture: iStockThe poster claimed the price of drinks increased after 10pm. Picture: iStock

The poster said they only noticed the price discrepancy after receiving a notification from Apple Pay and realising they had paid two different amounts for the same product.

“When I asked the same staff member who served me he said there was a ‘late night surcharge after 10pm’,” the poster claimed.

“I’ve never heard of a late night surcharge before and it’s (almost) a 30% increase! Not exactly a small increase.”

The poster alleged there was no signage to notify anyone of an increased fee after 10pm.

“I’ve never even heard of this practice in Australia. Has anyone experienced this before? Is it even legal?” they asked.

Some venues may charge a surcharge on certain days, such as weekend and public holidays.

Under Australian law, these venues are not required to include the charge on the total price displayed for their products.

However, if there is a surcharge, they must include the following words on the menu.

“A surcharge of [percentage] applies on [day or days].”

The Oxford Hotel in Darlinghurst. Picture: Oxford Hotel/FacebookThe Oxford Hotel in Darlinghurst. Picture: Oxford Hotel/Facebook

According to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) these words must be at least as prominent as the most prominent price on the menu.

“Alternatively, if the menu does not list prices, the information about the surcharge must be displayed in some other prominent way,” the advice reads.

There does not appear to be a surcharge notice listed on the hotel’s online menu.

Universal Hotels, which owns The Oxford Hotel, has not responded to multiple requests for comment from

Another commenter also claimed they experienced a late-night price hike at the venue, saying they paid $11.17 for a schooner of beer after 10pm.

They claimed that prior to 10pm the charge for the same drink was $8.68.

“A lot of the good LGBTQI pubs have either closed due to the lockout laws, or are pricing themselves so high no one wants to drink there. They’ll go bust if they keep this up,” the person said.

The Oxford Hotel has now been hit with multiple one-star reviews on Google, with all the latest comments referencing the late night surcharge.

Australia has strict rules around venues informing customers of any surcharges. Picture: iStockAustralia has strict rules around venues informing customers of any surcharges. Picture: iStock

“One star for the late night (hidden) surcharge. Awful,” one review read.

“It’s ridiculous to have a late night surcharge, especially without informing patrons,” another said.

Another reviewer claimed the venue “should be ashamed of themselves”.

However, surcharges at particular times and days have become common practice for many venues.

There are other Sydney pubs that use a practice known as “tiered pricing”, where the costs increase as it gets later.

Kelly’s on King in Newtown follows this practice, though it is a significantly smaller increase than almost 30 per cent, with a 10 per cent surcharge from 10pm.

General manager Brodie Parish told the ABC this is to help cover the extra cost of security and staff wages after that time.

“It’s actually been in place at every venue I’ve worked at over [the past] 10 years,” he said.

“I think what people are upset about is the degree of the increase … and the fact that it is not communicated,” he said.

The Reddit post sparked hundreds of responses from angry social media users, with many suggesting a lot of customers would be “too drunk” to notice the increased charge at this time of the night.

“Feels particularly cheeky, because people are going to be less likely to notice it once they’re a few drinks in and 10pm hits,” one person said.

Another wrote: “Lol at 10pm being ‘late’ – the irony of these bars that fought so hard against the lockout laws killing the night-life.”

There were those who claimed that late night surcharges at bars and pubs was “nothing new”.

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“What you paid seems somewhat excessive though,” one commenter said.

Another added: “Was gonna say. This surcharge has been a thing for as long as I can remember. Just before 10pm me and my mates would go to the bar and basically buy our last round of drinks.”

Read related topics:Sydney

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