Melbourne cafe apologizes over threats to ‘boycott’ venue after ‘minimum spend RAT offer’ failed


A popular Melbourne cafe has apologized for offering its customers free rapid antigen tests with an exorbitant minimum spend after many called the move “immoral”.

A Melbourne cafe has been forced to apologize after offering customers free rapid antigen tests, but only if they spent a certain amount on their products.

South Melbourne’s St Ali coffee roasters have sent a text message to their subscribers offering two rapid antigen tests with a minimum order value of $160.

A screenshot of the message was posted on social media on Monday, with users describing the move as “absolutely immoral” and demanding a boycott of the venue.

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The text read: “We have been fortunate to obtain a limited number of rapid antigen tests for our staff, families and friends. As a special VIP customer, we would like to offer them to you.

“We will give you a FREE 2PK Rapid Antigen Test and ship it FREE to Australia…Minimum spend of $159.99 applies.

“Stay safe, stay calm, stay caffeinated.”

Social media users were quick to criticize the unruly behavior, with people threatening to boycott the brand after screenshots were posted on Reddit and Twitter.

“I got this message from St Ali cafe. So disgusting I’m done ordering their coffee now,” wrote one Reddit user.

“What a fucking asshole,” another commented. “I boycott it from now on. Thank you.”

“It’s surely illegal. It’s absolutely immoral at its bare minimum,” said another.

A customer called the owner “opportunistic and unscrupulous foodie”.

Another alleged it was not the first time the cafe had taken advantage of customers, recalling the days when they charged $60 for hand sanitizers when supplies were scarce at the start of the pandemic.

“I remember a time when they were selling $60 bottles of hand sanitizers due to limited supply. So please go support these maggots who are drying up our community because we’re breaking human decency when there is money to be made!”

Just hours after the posts went viral, St Ali’s owner Salvatore Malatesta issued an apology on the cafe’s Instagram page.

“We recently purchased rapid antigen tests for our staff and their families, we had a surplus of supply so we texted some of our subscribers offering two free rapid antigen tests with an order value minimal,” he wrote.

“We thought it was a way to support our customers who regularly buy from us, but the message has been lost.

“We can see in hindsight that it was inappropriate. We are so sorry.”

Earlier this month, the federal government introduced measures under the Biosafety Act of 2015 to ban rapid antigen tests that drive up prices amid rising demand.

The measures will prohibit a wholesale price markup of more than 20% following reports that retailers are charging up to $70 per test.

Penalties for failing to meet the requirements include up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $66,600, or both.

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