Australia Day surcharge leaves customers cheesed off at Domino’s: How to communicate extra fees


Pizza lovers are claiming “false advertising” following confusion over a 15% public holiday surcharge at Domino’s that some have labelled as “un-Australian”.

The fast food chain, which recently introduced a 10% surcharge on all Sunday orders to cover hourly wage increases, added a 15% fee to orders on Thursday to cover “labor costs” associated with the national Australia Day public holiday.

However, hungry punters complained they were misled by a “Mates Rates” themed promotional email that advertised pizza deals on the day starting from $31.95 because the promotional prices did not include the extra fees.

“Stop advertising prices then adding the 15% on when you order. If you don’t want to pay your staff extra then don’t open,” said one customer.

“Your [sic] not a little unknown company Domino’s.. Wouldn’t hurt you to do the right thing by the Aussie greediness is a terrible thing,” said another.

Domino’s social media team referred concerned customers to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s guidelines for public holiday pay rates.

The business is still negotiating an expired enterprise agreement with its workers and has introduced an additional fee for Sunday orders to cover a pay bump for in-store staff and delivery drivers in the interim. The chain has previously told SmartCompany it expects a resolution in the “first half” of 2017.

SmartCompany contacted Domino’s this morning to clarify public holiday pay rates and how the surcharge was communicated. A spokesperson responded by saying the business has had a surcharge for public holidays for a number of years, with in-store staff’s casual wages, which range between $24.30 and $24.53 in different states, doubling on public holidays.

SmartCompany has seen a version of promotional materials for the Australia Day deals that does include a note on the planned surcharge, however, the price for meal deals advertised does not include this fee.

“We are committed to providing great tasting products at an affordable price point and only charge more when it costs us more to do so—a fact our customers value,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Domino’s also highlighted that the “Australia Day” promotional deals were available to customers for up to four days, and the surcharge only applied to the price on the Australia Day holiday.

Read more: How this café introduced a weekend surcharge to cover penalty rates without upsetting customers

Notify customers of surcharges “in advance”

Narissa Corrigan, principal at Ampersand Legal, says businesses are free to add any additional charges to their products or services, as long as customers are notified of the final prices.

“Restaurants are allowed to charge a public holiday surcharge, but they need to clearly tell people that it will apply to their standard prices,” she tells SmartCompany.

When it comes to communicating surcharges across all menu items, it is sufficient to add a note at the bottom of menus that explains the additional fees, rather than adding that percentage fee to all individual items on a menu, Corrigan says.

However, she recommends extra care be taken when advertising prices and deals for specific days, like Australia Day.

“If businesses are advertising a particular offer that is only for a public holiday, if there was going to be a surcharge added to the price then that [offer] should be shown as the total price you would be paying,” she says.

Businesses should remember they are free to add additional charges, as long as it is obvious to the customer at the time they place an order—and it helps if it’s clear what the charge is for, Corrigan says.

“I don’t think customers take too kindly to surcharges being applied for no good reason,” she says.

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* This story was updated on January 27 at 3:45pm AEDT to include an additional comment from Domino’s on the time frame of Australia Day offers. 


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5 years ago

“Wouldn’t hurt you to do the right thing by the Aussie battler”
I thought doing the right thing by the Aussie battler was to increase the pays of the workers! You do know that paying people more eats into the bottom line profits? Someone has to pay.

Brendan McNally
5 years ago

So the public want mates rates on public holidays and they want the people serving being paid award rates $40-$50 an hour. Tell ’em they’re dreaming!

George Naumovski
5 years ago

Even with the extra charge and worst fast food there is, people still buy from Domino’s!
Why would Domino’s change the way they operate and make their food or even care
about customers complaints when they know people will still buy their products. Domino’s is not the problem, it’s you the customer that keeps buying from them.

5 years ago

The real victims here are the franchisees. Being scammed to pay hundred of thousand of dollars with the promise of making good money out of the franchise but after the contract signed , the reality of high cost of labour, master franchise materials and supply costs, franchise fees and commission , rentals, food and safety compliances , taxes , payrolls , compos, public liabilities , started to hit the franchisee who were left with only below than 7-8 percent of sales while master franchise were getting at least 11-15 percent of sales . The real winners were the master franchise , the accountants , the tax office and fair work for the jobs created out of this mum and dad business . My understanding of FWO was created to face the battle with big business such as woolies,
coles , minings, shippings, transportation and other giants , and not for very micro business with employees numbers under 10 . FWO and Taxation has totally destroyed the fairness for really small business. . DO YOURSELF A FAVOR , It’s better off for any franchisees to give it up and sell it off and work for others and NOT bothering employing ANYONE . You will be able to sleep much better than fearful of getting hassled by the ” legalised mafias” over your very small business with very tiny weeny margin and profit anyway !!

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