Pacific Concept’s El Camino Cantina South Bank under fire from Brisbane diners for sneaky charges

‘Ridiculous and sneaky’ surcharge at a popular Mexican restaurant has diners furious – so do you think it’s fair?

  • Brisbane restaurant introduces a new service fee added to restaurant bill
  • Five per cent fee Monday-Saturday, 10 per cent Sundays, 15 on public holidays
  • On top of  10 per cent ‘discretionary service charge’ for groups of 10 or more
  • El Camino Cantina defended charges, citing inflation, minimum wage increases

A much-loved Mexican restaurant has faced a massive backlash after hidden new surcharges were introduced every day of the week and for large groups.

A Brisbane diner was visiting El Camino Cantina in South Bank last week when they got a rude shock after spotting a sneaky new detail in the fine print at the bottom of the menu.

Diners will be slugged with a five per cent service fee six days a week Monday to Saturday, which doubles to 10 per cent on Sundays and 15 per cent on public holidays.

An additional 10 per cent ‘discretionary service charge’ applies for groups of 10 or more, which means they would fork out 25 per cent if they dined on a public holiday.

‘Additional service fees every day of the week,’ the furious diner captioned a photo of the menu on Reddit.

Diners will now be paying more for tacos, burritos, margaritas and other Mexican fanfare at El Camino Cantina (diners pictured)

Diners will now be paying more for tacos, burritos, margaritas and other Mexican fanfare at El Camino Cantina (diners pictured)

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Do you think El Camino Cantina’s new surcharges are fair?

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The new fees are on top of small charges of up to 1.5 per cent for bills paid for credit and debit cards.

The post has since gone viral with more than 1,300 comments as debate raged over whether the surcharges were fair.

Many were horrified at the service charges and vowed to boycott El Camino Cantina, which is in 12 locations across Australia and New Zealand.

‘That’s such BS, service fees shouldn’t be a thing. Include them in your price and stop deceiving customers!’ one person fumed.

Another added: ‘People should be throwing up 1 star reviews and documenting this practice as the reason why. It’s f*****g dodgy and doesn’t pass the pub test.’

Hospitality workers argued it was common practice.

El Camino Cantina states the new surcharges  in fine print at the bottom of the menu

El Camino Cantina states the new surcharges  in fine print at the bottom of the menu

The diner was scanning the menu at El Camino Cantina in South Bank (pictured) when they got a rude shock

The diner was scanning the menu at El Camino Cantina in South Bank (pictured) when they got a rude shock 

‘I’ve worked at a few places that do this, and every one will waive the fee if you ask. It’s basically because as a server, serving such a large table pretty much keeps you busy the whole night with just that table, meaning you can’t serve the rest of your section,’ they commented.

Another worker added:  ‘As someone who works in fine dining, hospo service fees are very common for large tables, done at restaurants like hellenika, greca, yoko and agnes.

El Camino Cantina has 11 locations in Sydney and Queensland, along with one in Queenstown, New Zealand.

Pacific Concepts, which operates El Camino Cantina restaurants defended the new surcharges, citing rising inflation and minimum wage increases. 

‘Service charges are commonplace across the Australian hospitality industry and cover various costs incurred by businesses, including penalty rate wages on certain days and higher costs of operating at particular times,’ a spokesperson said. 

‘In addition, recent soaring inflation and minimum wage increases have impacted our business, which continues to be impacted by Covid-19 induced hospitality hardship. We are fully transparent about service charges, which are noted on our menus, websites, and receipts.’

Pacific Concepts also operates Bavarian Bier Cafe, which came under fire last month after a diner on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was spotted a $5.35 industry service charge was added to their bill.

Diners are now slugged with a five per cent service fee six days a week Monday to Saturday

Diners are now slugged with a five per cent service fee six days a week Monday to Saturday

‘Our business continues to be impacted by Covid-19 induced hospitality hardship,’ company spokesperson said at the time.

‘The additional burden of soaring inflation and wage costs led to our tough decision to add the service charge to the menu across all our restaurants for an interim period. 

The company also operates Fratelli Fresh, Munich Brauhaus, Winghaus, Bar Patron and The Argyle.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission noted businesses may be misleading customers if they display a price as a total cost when there are extra fees.

‘A simple way to avoid misleading consumers is to display an all-inclusive price that includes the lowest surcharge the consumer cannot avoid paying,’ the watchdog said.

Source

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