Vienna cafe starts billing customers extra to charge cell phones

A Viennese cafe has started adding an extra charge of €1 for customers who use their electricity supply by charging their phones or tablets.

Vienna cafe starts billing customers extra to charge cell phones
Photo: stockasso/Depositphotos

Earlier this week a visitor to the cafe at the famous Hundertwasserhaus in the 3rd district was surprised to find the extra charge for ‘electricity’ on her bill, and posted an image of it on her private Facebook account.

She had ordered four glasses of spritzer during her four hour visit – but had also plugged her phone charger into a socket and used her smartphone whilst in the cafe.

The manager of the cafe, Galina Pokorny, told the Kurier newspaper that she doesn’t always bill extra when people charge their phones, but “if a guest uses our energy supply for longer than two hours, then I add a euro to their bill. Every day I get a crowd of tourists who are charging their phones, cameras and tablets”. She added that she tells customers at the cafe that this is her rule, and that any extra cash she makes is officially declared for tax purposes.

From a legal point of view, a charge can be made for electricity use – so long as the customer has been verbally informed that this is the case, the Kurier said, citing the Chamber of Commerce.

Two years ago, German youth magazine Bravo calculated how much it costs to charge a mobile phone on a daily basis per year. According to its calculation it costs around €1.17 a year, whilst charging a tablet costs around €4 a year.

Some Viennese cafes have also started charging customers for tap water in the past couple of years. According to a study by the Chamber of Commerce in 2012, one in five cafes now charge for tap water. However, 80 percent of cafe house owners say they still serve a glass of tap water free of charge when a customer orders coffee or wine – or if they have children with them.

According to the Kurier, 1,000 litres of tap water in Vienna costs around €1.86.


Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Christmas illuminations in Vienna will also be scaled back this year as part of the city's energy saving measures.

Vienna forced to dim street lighting and cancel some Christmas illuminations

Vienna, a city known for its Christmas markets and its New Year concert, is cutting back on public lighting in the face of soaring energy prices.

“There will be no Christmas illuminations this year on the Ring,” the famous boulevard that encircles the centre of the Austrian capital, city spokeswoman Roberta Kraft told AFP.

READ MORE: Five of the biggest challenges facing Austria right now

And the lights at the Christmas market in the square in front of the city hall would only be switched on at night and not at dusk, as in previous years, “which is to say about an hour later, on average, every day”, she said.

The city authorities said they had not calculated exactly how much they would save, but the move comes after energy prices have skyrocketed following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its response to Western sanctions.

Last Friday, the Austrian Energy Agency announced that its electricity price index for September rose by more than 256 percent year-on-year.

READ ALSO: Inflation at 9.2% in July: How to beat rising prices in Austria

Austria, with its population of nine million, is very dependent on tourism and its end-of-year celebrations are a major motor of the economy.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down much international travel, more than four million people visited Vienna’s famous Christmas markets in 2019.

In 2021, around 30 of Vienna’s shopping streets were lit up for seven hours a day, from November 12 until early January.