March 23, 2009

question of the week: splitting the check

qwestyuns. I haz dem.

Even though I go out to dinner with the same group of friends almost every Friday, we still have difficulty when it comes to splitting the check at the end of the meal. Dividing everything evenly is definitely the easiest way to go, but it's usually not the fairest. What if one person had wine when another person just drank water? But you could argue that since it's usually the same group of people, it all evens out week over week.

We want to know what you guys do in these situations. And if you have some genius method to making things simple and fair, by all means, tell us in the comments!

And here's one of my favorite tips for when each person is paying a different amount: Always carry a pen with you to write down how much the server should put on each card. We flip the check over and write out each person's last name along with exactly how much to charge. The server is always so grateful for not having to remember which of the half-dozen cards goes with which amount.

Posted by Lindsay on March 23, 2009 in Etiquette , Q of the Week

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20 responses to "question of the week: splitting the check"

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After the horror of once coming up $200 short on a group dinner, I learned that it was worth offering to be the "banker" when our group goes out. (if you always wanted to be the bank in monopoly, you are a good candidate for this job). I whip out my phone calculator and just add up what people ordered and their share of that bottle of wine or appetizer, toss in their share of the tax and give them a total. The golden ticket is that I keep a few of those small post-its in my wallet, write their total on it and they stick it right on their credit card. I literally have had waiters kiss me over the post-its. I'm just sayin'.

quick tip: whether you go Lindsey's "back-of-check" route or my post-its... never include the tip. Most restaurants can't run credit cards that total more than the original bill. Be kind and be sure that your individual charges don't add up to more than the bill and then write your tip in as usual when they return the charge slips. Voila!

Katy -- I LOVE the Post-It flag idea! I'm getting a pack of these for my purse ASAP.

Love that idea that Lindsay had. We just have a knockdown drag out between the parties on who gets to pay! Meaning that everyone we go out with wants to pay the whole bill. How blessed we are at having such great friends! We go out together at least once a week and we usually rotate who gets the check, but no one keeps track. At least that is what we all say. May you all be bless with great friends.

I like the post-it idea, too. Also, Katy is right that you can't include tip when asking the waitstaff to split the bill across several cards. I just found this out last weekend!

Also, I have to admit I LOATHE having to pay for people boozing it up with cocktails and several drinks when I just had one glass of wine at group dinners. It makes me decline dining invitations with certain crowds.

We always state at the beginning of the meal to the waiter that we are all on separate tickets. It is uncomfortable at the time but just ask. They will accomadate you. We have a budget for eating out and we don't drink usually with our meals--the alcohol really drives up the bill. Also then for the tip-someone does not make that decision for you. You need to be in charge of your bill. Not other people. It makes for awkwardness at times. Be in controll of your bill.

THere are some restarants that do not splite up check more than two! So the best thing do do is splite it up equally among the group!!!

Hi. I rip up pieces of paper and have people write their credit card amounts on them. The most important part of everything though is the 1.3 rule (works for people in NYC where tax is 8.325% and gratuity usually 20% - the 1.3 covers it). Each person has to pay for what they ordered in that amount. E.g. $10 item, you pay $13, etc. I run a women's group and I just give people an Excel spreadsheet listing base amounts from $3 to $200. I haven't had a problem in large groups since.

@Turk, I hate when restaurants give you attitude about splitting up a bill or putting different amounts on different cards. I realize it takes them slightly more time, which can be a pain when you're busy, but if you can take two cards, then you can take more than two cards, especially if you have a computerized system. Otherwise, break out ye olde calculator!

I have a group of 4-12 people that meets for lunch once a month, alternating between uptown and downtown locations. Both locations are happy to prepare separate cheques for each of us.

Over half of us are seniors, so we recently changed our date at our uptown location from Friday to Wednesday to take advantage of their "take a senior to lunch for free" deal; one senior eats free for each paid lunch. To keep it simple, we split the bill equally. Since it is an "all you can eat buffet" and no one had more than one drink, it worked out well.

4 To 6 of us go out for the evening of eating & drinking. Up front we ask the server for 2 checks. 1 for the group of 3 to 4 of us that split the check evenly and 1 for the other 2 that like to take it down to you had 3 imported beers and I had domestic 2 beers.

Servers understand when you ask up front and it is less stressfull on the friendship.

I love the post-it idea too. The biggest problem I've noticed with groups is that when people come up with what they owe, they never include the tax. When that happens, someone is always stuck with paying extra and/or the waiter gets stiffed out of the tip he or she deserves. I make it a point to remind everyone to include the tax as well as the tip. The 1.3 rule is a great idea for that!

I usually ovepay

How the check's gonna get paid is pretty much determined BEFORE the meal with our group. If we have "family-style" dinners such as an 8-course meal from a Chinese restaurant or a family-style Italian restaurant, we pretty much divi up. Otherwise, it's understood that every individual pays accordingly.

There was that one time when the group was not disclosed of the payment arrangement by the host. Since it was a birthday for a friend, we went ahead; but I don't think I'll be doing that again.

Separate checks usually.
If we have one check we separate evenly... but,if i am with a group of Nit pickly people (and they know who they are)OR i am the one with wine while others have water, i pass the bill tell them to pay whatever they want and i will just pay the rest.
I will note: watch your receipts when splitting the bill that YOUR card is charged (check the number)... was out with friends, not only did the same card get rung twice by the server, but the credit card company (and it was the credit card, not restaurant) charged the wrong amount on both charges!! crazy mess to clean up!!

We ask the waiter for seperate bills and if they reply they cant do that then I advise them we cant eat there...their choice! Works places where they truly cant divide the cheque the waiter tallies it seperately themselves....and they end up with bigger tips for going thru the extra trouble..

We ask the waiter for seperate bills and if they reply they cant do that then I advise them we cant eat there...their choice! Works places where they truly cant divide the cheque the waiter tallies it seperately themselves....and they end up with bigger tips for going thru the extra trouble..

I suggest you dine only w/ friends! If your friends do not equibly share the check over a series of meals out, well,....I would look for new friends!

I always tell the waiter to give me my dishes ordered and also my wife's only. Then I end up paying only for we consumed letting others pay their own meals. The fairest way, don't ya'wl agree?

When the check arrives, if I've ordered a high-end entree or an expensive glass of wine I announce that I'm adding $25.00 to cover the cost of my expensive pallate. LOL. I think it is so rude to expect others to cover my expensive choices and at the same time I don't want to deny myself the pleasure of ordering something that I truly enjoy.

Ask the waiter to write a separate bill for you only.