Taste of Tasmania stallholders disappointed with event, demand refund

05 January, 2016 by
Danielle Bowling

Approximately half of the stallholders that took part in the recent Taste of Tasmania event are asking for a 10 percent council levy to be refunded, arguing that the festival’s new cashless payment system led to decreased sales.

The event, held in Hobart, ran from 28 December 2015 to 3 January 2016 on Hobart’s waterfront and for the first time operated a cashless payment system.

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“This year The Taste of Tasmania is going cashless as part of a one year trial. You will need to bring along your personal debit or credit card for all purchases and then simply tap, swipe or insert into the EFTPOS tablet just as you would at any shop or restaurant,” the event’s website reads.

The system didn’t work well according to 39 stallholders who have written to the council complaining that they suffered lost sales. They’re claiming the cashless system led to “numerous and wide discrepancies between the actual transactions for stallholders, reported sales and settlements."

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"The process adopted by stallholders in settling each Albert terminal have shown daily discrepancies ranging from $1,200 – $4,500, representing a variance of approximately 10 to 30 percent of daily takings," the complaint reads.

According to the ABC, the latest Taste of Tasmania was the first to charge stallholders a 10 percent surcharge on all items, and now the disgruntled food and beverage producers are demanding it be refunded.

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Producers that have put their name to the formal complaint include Josef Chromy Wines, Seven Sheds, Ashgrove Cheese, Blackman Bay Oyster Bar, Island Berries Tasmania, Annapuma, Devil’s Brewery and Frank’s Cider.

Despite the criticism, acting deputy mayor Ron Christie said the payment system was a success and will return at the next Taste of Tasmania.

“This is the first time that technology like this has been introduced in any festival in Australia and we are heading forward as the most innovative festival in the nation," he said.

The Hospitality Association is also arguing that the event has become too focused on alcohol, taking attention away from the state’s many and varied fresh food producers.

"Realistically, the Taste is all about the food and the great produce we have here in Tasmania, and what we've got to make sure we don't lose is the focus on that," the Hospitality Association’s Steve Old said.

"I think maybe over the last couple of years we have taken away a bit from that.

"I saw on the weekend we don't have as many regional producers there as what we've had in the past."

Old said he’s be happy to consult with event organisers to address this issue before the next festival.