Listing-fees: Something the Cape Can do Without

The discomforting news that my beloved Dias Tavern restaurant has now fallen for the rip-off tactic of asking wineries to pay for the privilege of having their wines grace the restaurant’s wine-list, has led to another level of hate for the practice of charging listing-fees. This is now becoming all too common in the Cape, and my reasons for objecting to this extortion is well-documented here.

However, the current state of play in South Africa and the society of pay-offs, backhanders, bribery and corruption that meets us daily has me asking the question: Should Cape Town and the Western Cape, which prides itself on being the head-quarters of South African hospitality, dining and wining – and going to lengths to nurture its reputation as such – not seriously look at leading the way in squashing the listing-fee practise? For me, the glib acceptance of allowing restaurants to muscle cold cash from wineries in order the get a spot on the wine-list – whilst also making huge profit from wine mark-ups – is tasteless and seedy. And definitely not conducive to the Cape’s image as a welcoming and spirited provider of hospitality, nor as a great warm place to do business in.

I am by no means equating the hustling for restaurant listing-fees to illicit government tenders and the trough-feeding activities of family and friends of government officials. But the climate of underhanded financial procurement prevailing in the country’s national narrative does have one experiencing a bad, “here we go again” taste in the mouth when receiving another email from a restaurant asking you to donate R20 000 before one’s wine can appear on the wine-list. It is as if the wanton will of money-grabbing displayed in government spheres and the public sector has trickled down to private business in the hospitality domain. Should the ambience the Western Cape wishes to create as a relaxed, professional and ethical tourist mecca be allowed to be distorted by this shady listing-fee scenario?

A few years back, the wine industry endeavoured to gain legal advice as to whether listing-fees were not violating anti-competitive regulation, but subsequently they backed off. I think the time has come for the local DA government, that does a sterling job in recognising the importance of the hospitality sector, to take a look at this listing-fee scenario. Blatant cheap and opportunistic hustling from restaurateurs, which the procuring of listing-fees is, is a flavour the Cape could do without.

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9 thoughts on “Listing-fees: Something the Cape Can do Without

  1. I am with you 100% Emile. The entire practice, prevalent throughout the retail space, is disgraceful and anti-competitive. It inhibits the growth of smaller suppliers, in this case wine makers, in a country where these small enterprises are essential to the growth of the economy and the wine industry. It smacks of arrogance and I think it is a cheek.

  2. Merda, acabei de perder o entusiasmo pelo trinchado deles!

    I wonder, does the “Eat Out” guide consider procurement practices when compiling their awards list? There may be a space for a guide to ethical restaurants.

    Você consegue Emílio!

  3. Emile, I am so with you on this one. It was never anything I condoned in my 15 years at the Vineyard Hotel. The practice is unethical for one, and wine lists are a display of the relationships one has with the industry and individual farms. So in practice you are screwing your mates. Tasteless.

  4. It definitely leaves a bad taste, and more so after charging exorbitant prices in those restaurants too. There is another puzzling phenomenon that should be tackled too is restaurants charging exorbitant wines whilst the restaurant is on the wine farm itself.

    South Africans are milked in every direction all in the notion that we don’t understand what it truly costs however I believe that its just an excuse when the markup is 50%

  5. Natuurlik stem ek volmondig saam Emile.

    Maar kom eet gerus hier in die Helderberg. Heelwat puik restaurante laat BYO toe sonder corkage, veral nog as jou hare grys is en jy waarskynlik ‘n pensoenaris is. As daar wel corkage gevra word, is dit so R30-R40. Hier is selfs die (eerste?) franchise van die Diaz Tavern, maar hullle sukkel nog effe om hul “act together” te kry.

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