Big Mamma Group has become the latest restaurant operator to face the ire of customers after its mobile payment provider introduced a new charge to its bills.

The group’s Gloria restaurant in Shoreditch has added a ‘checkout fee’ to customer bills paid via mobile.

Big Mamma uses Sunday - the payment app founded by the restaurant group’s co-founders, Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux.

On a receipt posted on Reddit, it says the £2.99 fee ‘applies to the use of sunday, your 10-second QR code payment’.

The fee was in addition to a service charge levied at 13.5%.

Sunday confirmed to MCA that “in some cases a small fee between 0.5% and 2% fees (capped for big checks) is applied to customers who wish to pay quickly with QR codes, not wait for the bill and get their digital receipt instantly.”  

According to the app, the fee allows users ‘instant payments, the abilty to split the bill in seconds… and will not apply if you choose to wait for the credit card machine.’ 

A spokesperson added: “This fee, and the choice to pay another way, is clearly shown to guests at checkout.”

Customers at other restaurants using Sunday have also complained about the charge, which only applies to those paying via the app.

The charges vary, but according to several examples seen by MCA often appear to be around 2% of the total bill.

The fee, which appears to have been levied for several months, is likely to prove controversial among consumers still feeling sensitive to the effects of cost-of-living pressures.

A spokesperson for the restaurant group told MCA: ”Big Mamma does use Sunday across all their London restaurants as a payment option, and the fee is part of this software which allows customers to pay via their phone, split the bill and instantly receive their receipt. 

”It is an option offered to guests, which guests can decide whether or not to use. There are also other ways to pay, which don’t incur the Sunday fee, such as via card machine, this is just a quicker and easier solution for guests.”

The emergence of the fee follows a similar case of Ping Pong Dim Sum, which has ditched the service charge on its menus and introduced a 15% discretionary ‘brand charge’.

The Chinese-inspired restaurant group said the new charge covers costs associated with “managing and supporting the restaurants, as well as maintaining the brand experience to our company standards”.

In a follow-up statement, Ping Pong said the charge would fund wage rises for its restaurant teams.

Restaurant groups are under pressure to absorb a raft of costs, the latest being the rise in the National Living Wage.

But while in the case of Sunday the charge is levied by the tech provider, the lines are blurred in this instance between operator and supplier due to their shared founders and shareholers. 

The case mirrors the way third-party delivery aggregators such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats charge delivery and service fees to customers.

Sunday was founded in 2021 and raised $124m in its first year in business over two rounds of fundraising. 

The checkout system for restaurants uses QR codes on tables, which customers can scan to pay the bill via mobile.

The app promises to cut the commission restaurant groups pay on customer bills by at least half.

Speaking at MCA’s Hostech conference in 2022, Lugger said the app saves 12 minutes per table and per server, leading to increased productivity and revenue.

Investors include New Wave, a venture capital firm backed by French telecoms billionaire Xavier Niel, and Philippe Laffont’s Coatue Management and DST Global.

After rapid early expansion, in 2022 the start-up pulled out of four markets - Spain, Portugal, Canada and Italy – and cut its workforce, saying it was refocussing on its most important markets, the US, the UK and France.

Sunday tends to work with premium operators, with partners including the likes of Dishoom, JKS Restaurant, Le Bab, Berber & Q, Hache Burer, Homeslice and Berenjak. 

Sunday clarified to MCA that Dishoom, Berber & Le Bab are using the app without any fee for their guests. 

The app is subject to several complain about the charges on the its Trustpilot page.

Big Mamma was founded in France and has five restaurants in London.

In September last year, its founders sold a majority stake of the business to McWin, valuing it at €270m.

The investment will be used to fund an expansion push in the US and the Middle East, building on its existing portfolio of 23 restaurants across Europe, including its original trattoria East Mamma in Paris and London’s Circolo Popolare.

Lugger and Seydoux will continue to run the business and retain a minority stake.