Hong Kong netizens surprised as local Cha Chaan Teng adds mysterious HK$1 charge to bill

Picture for illustration purpose only.

15th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) A netizen shared an unusual experience at a well-established local cha chaan teng (Hong Kong-style tea restaurant) on an online discussion forum recently. The individual discovered an unexpected additional charge of HK$1 on their bill and expressed curiosity rather than blame, asking, “Is this a unique business practice outside of Hong Kong?” Many netizens expressed their surprise and stated that they had never heard of such a situation before.

The incident unfolded when the Hong Kong man visited a chain cha chaan teng and ordered an afternoon tea set, which included curry beef brisket soup with instant noodles and a glass of iced lemon tea, totalling HK$41 plus an additional HK$5 for an egg with the noodles. However, the final bill came to $47, prompting the customer to question the discrepancy, saying, “I saw the bill and asked: Isn’t it $41 + $5 equal to $46?”

The restaurant server then printed a new receipt detailing the breakdown of charges, revealing that the extra $1 consisted of a “service charge” of $0.5 and a “change difference” of $0.5. The server explained, “The afternoon tea set doesn’t come with an additional charge, but adding the egg requires an extra fee.”

The customer added that he had inquired about the charge for the egg and distinctly remembered being informed that it was an additional $5. He emphasized that he didn’t mind the extra $1 charge and had no intention of blaming the restaurant. However, he expressed his curiosity about this peculiar business practice, remarking, “Having worked in this industry for over 20 years, it’s the first time I’ve seen someone being charged like this. It’s quite intriguing to see such an abnormality.”

Netizens had mixed reactions to the incident. Some found the concept of a “change difference” charge to be unheard of, while others commented on the increasing novelty of additional fees at cha chaan tengs. One netizen humorously remarked, “Creating something out of nothing for $1,” while another questioned the need for such a charge, saying, “Why would they bother with a $1 charge? Shouldn’t it be rounded off?” Some netizens felt that the restaurant was overcharging, with comments such as, “This $1 just materialised from thin air,” and “Why would they steal one dollar?” However, there were also those who felt the customer’s post about being charged an extra dollar was a bit trivial, stating, “If you knew it was $47 from the beginning, would you have still complained? Do you really care about one dollar?”