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DIVVYING UP THE CHECK

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 3, 2015

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Don’t turn a pleasant evening into an accounting nightmare.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

One of the most embarrassing customs we have in this country is fighting over the bill at a restaurant. It’s one thing for someone to pick up the check in its entirety, quite another when we start to fight over who should pay what. When someone picks up the whole check, it’s usually done for business purposes, a date, a celebration, or as a term of endearment (meaning, “I enjoy your company and it would be an honor if you would allow me to pay the bill”). Under this scenario, the other party will inevitably reciprocate the next time you go out. If they do not, it’s time to find another friend.

Aside from this, the real problem comes when we try to split hairs over the check. The bill should, of course, be reviewed for accuracy, but I have been with people who like to put everything under a microscope and fight with the waiter or waitress over every nickel, thereby turning a pleasant evening into an uncomfortable inquisition. It’s one thing to be frugal, quite another to be cheap (Jack Benny preferred the word “penurious”).

I never understood the logic of having one bill for a large group of people who are going to pay separately. Inevitably, someone appoints him/herself as the head bookkeeper and instructs everyone what they owe, rather loudly I might add. Everybody at the table then knows who the big spenders are, as well as the tightwads. Why not have separate checks and save everyone the embarrassment? It might be a headache for the waiter or waitress, but no more than having someone run a P & L statement on you over the PA system.

Most of the time, people will simply split the bill evenly, which is easy for the waiter to do, and provides an equitable solution for all of the parties involved, unless one of the parties is keeping a scorecard on who ate and drank what, thereby feeling cheated by a 50/50 split. In this situation, have the waiter split the check accordingly and avoid creating any ill-will.

The last thing that could potentially turn ugly when multiple parties are involved is calculating the tip. Under a 50/50 split, both parties should theoretically give the same amount (assuming they are both satisfied with the service provided). If one person gives more than another, than the waiter will most likely think one person is cheaper than the other (or more generous than the other depending on your perspective).

When we share a meal with others, the general idea is to relax and have a good time. Consequently, paying the bill should be handled with finesse and grace, not embarrassment. Perhaps the best way to develop indigestion is to fight over a lousy bill which would certainly defeat the purpose of going out together.

Originally published: 02/08/2010

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PROCESS TEMPLATES – Five business process templates which accommodate most business processes. 

LAST TIME:  44 YEARS OF “PRIDE”  – and the lessons we have learned.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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2 Responses to “DIVVYING UP THE CHECK”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    A W.H. of Boulder, Colorado wrote…

    “Well, when I’m out with just another person, most of the time we just divide the check in half even if there’s a small difference in what each of us ordered.

    Years ago, when I was working, I would have to travel to Camden NJ (fun) to RCA for some program reviews. Inevitably, a group of about 10-12 would go out to a nice place for dinner, and the program manager would indeed play the part of “cashier” and tell everyone what they owed. HOWEVER, we found out that this guy basically took the check, and if there were 12 people at the table, he would divide it by 11 and then each of us would put into the kitty. We never thought much about it. Someone noticed one time, and at a later event, HIS boss was at the table and he simply turned to the guy and told him to pick up the entire check – and put it on the expense account. Everyone knew why.”

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  2. […] DIVVYING UP THE CHECK […]

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