Politics

Melbourne cafe St Ali apologises for offering COVID RATs with $160 spend


A popular Melbourne cafe has been forced to apologise after offering customers a pack of free rapid antigen tests if they spend an exorbitant amount on their products.

St Ali Coffee Roasters, based in South Melbourne, sent a text message to their subscribers on Monday saying they were “fortunate enough” to have gotten hold of the sought-after COVID-19 tests.

“As a special VIP customer, we’d like to extend these to you too,” the text message read.

“We’ll gift you a free 2pk Rapid Antigen Test and ship it free in Australia. Stay safe, stay calm, stay caffeinated.

“Minimum spend of $159.99 applies. One per person, online only. Available until sold out.”

St Ali Coffee Roasters sent out a text message to their subscribers on Monday saying they were “fortunate enough” to have gotten hold of the tests.
St Ali Coffee Roasters sent out a text message to their subscribers on Monday saying they were “fortunate enough” to have gotten hold of the tests. Credit: Reddit

Screenshots of the message quickly did the rounds on social media, with many calling the offer “gross” and saying they will boycott the venue.

Hours later St Ali and its owner Salvatore Malatesta issued an apology to their Instagram page and on the website.

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‘We can see in hindsight it was inappropriate.’ – St Ali owner Salvatore Malatesta

“We believed this was a way of supporting our customers whom purchase from us regularly, but the message has been lost,” the apology said.

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

St Ali and its owner Salvatore Malatesta issued an apology to their Instagram page and on the website.
St Ali and its owner Salvatore Malatesta issued an apology to their Instagram page and on the website. Credit: St Ali

St Ali said once they receive further tests the equivalent amount will be donated to Father Bob’s South Melbourne Charity for him to distribute.

They also told subscribers to contact them to have their order refunded or if they would like to speak further.

While they are still difficult to come by, rapid antigen tests are free in Victoria at testing sites and three million are being distributed by the state government to essential workers in health and aged care, disability and emergency sectors.

The “significant” first batch of three million is the first of a bulk order of 44 million tests coming to Victoria.



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