An Australian Restaurant Receipt Is Going Viral For Charging A 'Sneaky' $105

If you've ever been to Australia, you may have been surprised to find out that tipping is not really a thing. It's not expected or mandatory. Staff are paid a minimum livable wage by law. For example, a full-time waiter working in Sydney would make an average wage of about $45,000 per year ($29,000 USD), according to Salary Expert. The country's minimum wage is $22 an hour ($14 USD), and many workplaces offer increased pay rates on weekends and public holidays (per Employsure). When someone does happen to tip, it's considered as a nice bonus.

Therefore, anyone dining out who sees a service charge listed on their bill in Australia, has a right to question what it is. They would also expect to be notified about it before dining — either via the menu or by the waitstaff. Public holidays tend to attract a service charge, but a group dining at Sydney's Bar Totti received a surprise in the form of a hefty service charge on top of a large bill (per 7News).

Australian diners upset over surprise charges

Recently, a group of Australian diners were upset to learn of a $74.45 service charge and other unexpected costs that added up to $105, including three one-liter bottles of Acqua Panna Water for $30 (via 7News). While the water is imported from Tuscany, Italy, it usually retails for around $4.15 AUD a bottle, and you can expect a restaurant to mark up the price slightly. More than double the price struck the diners as quite a bit too high.

Bar Totti's is described as a, "laid-back neighbourhood joint serving Italian-style small plates, plus wines & cocktails." According to 7News, the group of nine enjoyed, "13 antipasti dishes, six mains, four side and drinks" and managed to spend a total of $744.50 — already $82 per person. So when the restaurant decided to add on a "service charge," which seems to be about 10% of the bill, it may seem like a slap in the face. 

One diner told 7News that they would have been more than happy to leave a tip but the "sneaky" service charge "soured" the experience. "We know restaurants have struggled a lot in the last two years with the pandemic. But being charged an exorbitant amount for service and water with no explanation just doesn't seem fair on customers."