Pay first, dine later: Eating out in post-pandemic world
BUSINESSES are enforcing hefty minimum spends and asking for deposits in a bid to safeguard their economic recovery against no-shows and cancellations.
The move has angered some loyal customers with some restaurants demanding as much as a $90 minimum spend on weekends while hairdressers are asking for half the cost before the appointment.
Others such as Nineteen at the Star on the Gold Coast are asking for credit card details as a guarantee and if the reservation is cancelled within 24 hours of the booking date or the diners do not show, they will be charged a $150 per person cancellation fee.
E'cco Bistro in Newstead is asking diners to pay in advance for its $89 per head set menu once they reopen on June 20.
But Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland economic Adviser Jack Baxter said with business still being restricted by the number of patrons they can host, there are still viability issues for many businesses looking to open their doors and re-engage their employees.
"Minimum spend requirements and booking deposits can allow hospitality businesses to plan for what revenue is coming in to help manage their operations more efficiently at a time when business profitability is vital," he said.
"Businesses in different regions will charge different amounts and could depend on their overheads such as rent, wages, utilities and other expenses."
Businesses are allowed to ask for deposits or minimum spends provided they do not deceive the consumer.
An Australian Competition and Consumer Commission spokeswoman said the Australian Consumer Law requires that businesses must not engage in conduct that is likely to mislead or deceive and must not make false or misleading claims or statements.
Griffith University Infectious Diseases and Immunology professor Nigel McMillan said there was no health aspect to the issue.
"It's a business issue forced upon them by the current stage 2 process," he said.
"I can sympathise with the business as a no show will impact on their earnings significantly and if they do turn up then they would comply with the distancing and its all as required by the government."
Byblos at Portside, Hamilton, was taking prepayments for 10 guests, but have decided with 20 in each designated space that they will not be doing that and hope that customers simply honour their bookings.
Renee Roberts and Robyn Te Whero who yesterday dined at Byblos said they would support paying a deposit to help businesses recover after COVID.
Originally published as Pay first, dine later: Eating out in post-pandemic world