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Dishing up a surcharge with your hot cross bun

With the Easter break around the corner, the Commerce Commission is reminding businesses that if they apply a surcharge it must be clearly and accurately disclosed to consumers.

Commissioner Anna Rawlings said businesses sometimes use surcharges to recover additional costs such as staff wages, as employees get a higher pay rate under the Holidays Act when they work a public holiday if it’s a usual working day for them.

“However, it is important consumers are made aware of a business’s intention to add a surcharge upfront so they can make a decision about whether they are prepared to pay it or buy elsewhere.”

“Businesses that are planning to add a surcharge this Easter need to alert potential customers to it, such as by using a prominently placed sign outside the café or at the bar counter,” she said.

Ms Rawlings said businesses also need to be careful not to mislead customers about the reasons for the surcharge.

“For example, a business must not claim it is applying a surcharge on Easter Sunday because it is a public holiday. This would be inaccurate because the only public holidays over the Easter weekend are GoodFriday and Easter Monday,” she said.

All businesses trading this Easter weekend should make sure they are complying with the Fair Trading Act and not misleading customers. Consumers who feel that they have been misled by a surcharge can contact the Commission on 0800 943 600 or via our website.

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