When a 59-year-old Katoomba security guard was accidentally overcharged $9.50 at a Mountains pub bistro earlier this year, he decided against approaching the hotel directly for the refund.
Instead Mark Keith Slater got on the phone to complain to the Department of Fair Trading, making a meal of it.
Mr Slater was dining with his wife at The Grand View Hotel's popular half price Muesday night on May 20, ordering an extra item - the gluten free salt and pepper squid - off the evening's menu. He didn't realise the mistake on the bill until after he left.
What followed was $25 in administrative charges spent chasing the money (including a registered post letter to The Grand View asking for a cheque), correspondence with The Department of Fair Trading and half a day spent before a magistrate at Katoomba Court House on Thursday (August 1) fighting his claim with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
"I'm a man of principle and I wanted it on record," he said.
"The average person will say it's a trivial matter but that's what we pay our taxes for. It doesn't matter how much money it is ... the [till] operator made a mistake."
Magistrate J Ringrose said this was "a claim in the scheme of things for a very small amount of money".
With no-one appearing from the hotel, he went ahead with the case saying: "It's not desirable your time and the tribunal time will be wasted if it's not necessary to do so". He found in Mr Slater's favour.
Mr Slater said while he understood most people wouldn't be bothered, he wanted to make a stand. He will be known to many in the Mountains, having stood unsuccessfully for council eight times since the 1990s. He started with the Green Independents, then moved to the Liberal Party, standing for the Australia First group at the last council election.
Grand View manager Tony Riviere said the customer was "making an imaginary stand". He was not aware they were expected in court.
"We are not going to argue with anyone over $9.50 ... it's just silly," he told The Gazette.
We are not going to argue with anyone over $9.50 ... it's just sillyTony Riviere, Grand View Hotel manager
"Our assistant manager Kate spoke to him and did ask him for his credit card details [to provide a refund]. I find it really odd. I thought this had been sorted. We had no letter from the court."
Mr Riviere said it all seemed to be a misunderstanding. They had received a registered post letter addressed to Kate (who is overseas at the moment) that he now realised was from Mr Slater about the matter, but "I wouldn't open her personal mail".
Mr Slater said he wouldn't like to see Muesday suffer because of it. But he won't be going back and was instead awaiting the re-opening of Katoomba RSL.