Coffee shop outrages customers with offer of free RAT each

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One of ‘s trendiest cafes has been forced to issue an apology after it offered customers free rapid antigen tests in return for spending $160.

St Ali Coffee Roasters in South Melbourne sent a text to its VIP subscribers offering two free RATs if they spent a minimum $159.99 in an online-only offer.

The business runs a retail outlet in South Melbourne as well as offering general coffee supplies online. 

‘We’ve been fortunate enough to secure a limited number of rapid antigen tests for our staff, families and friends,’ St Ali texted subscribers.

‘As a special VIP customer, we’d like to extend these to you too. 

‘We’ll gift you a free 2PK rapid antigen test and ship it free in Australia.

‘Minimum spend of $159.99 applies.’

Niche coffee brand St Ali was first established in South Melbourne back in 2005

Niche coffee brand St Ali was first established in South Melbourne back in 2005

Salvatore Malatesta (left, in hat) is pictured at St Ali in South Melbourne. The business has apologised for a marketing text offering RATs in return for customers spending $160

Salvatore Malatesta (left, in hat) is pictured at St Ali in South Melbourne.

The business has apologised for a marketing text offering RATs in return for customers spending $160

The text sent to VIP St Ali subscribers offering the 'free' RAT tests in return for a minimum spend with the business

The text sent to VIP St Ali subscribers offering the ‘free’ RAT tests in return for a minimum spend with the business

Comments on a Reddit post by someone who received the text message were swift to condemn the business for the offer.  

‘Is this illegal?

It feels like it should be illegal,’ one person wrote.

‘Disgusting, I have to put up with daily abuse as a ‘stockist’ who can’t get/keep of RATs so a***holes can use them as a promotional tool,’ another person posted.

Many people called for a boycott of the business run by Salvatore Malatesta, who is described as a ‘disruptive entrepreneur’ on the St Ali website.

The backlash to the RAT offer caused Mr Malatesta to issue a hasty apology.

‘We believed this was a way of supporting our customers whom purchase from us regularly but the message has been lost.

‘We can see in hindsight it was inappropriate.

‘We are very sorry.’

The backlash to the RAT offer caused Mr Malatesta to issue a hasty apology. 'We believed this was a way of supporting our customers whom purchase from us regularly but the message has been lost. We can see in hindsight it was inappropriate'

The backlash to the RAT offer caused Mr Malatesta to issue a hasty apology.

‘We believed this was a way of supporting our customers whom purchase from us regularly but the message has been lost. We can see in hindsight it was inappropriate’

St Ali said it will give an ‘equivalent amount’ of tests to the Father Bob Maguire Foundation in South Melbourne ‘to distribute as he sees fit’.

‘That might be the fastest back pedal by a business that I’ve ever seen,’ one person commented in response.

The niche coffee brand was first established in 2005 with the philosophy of bringing ‘specialty coffee to the masses through a team of dynamic and drive coffee-lovers’. 

It later branched out into wholesale after Mr Malatesta purchased the business in 2008. 

Daily Mail Australia has approached St Ali for further comment.   

Meanwhile, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has compiled a list a complaints about price gouging for home testing kits.

Rapid antigen tests are being advertised for $1,000 when they are meant to be selling for as little as $12.

‘The highest prices by far have been identified on online marketplaces, one of which featured an advertisement of a test for over $1,000 each,’ the ACCC said.