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Old 07-29-2011, 11:20 AM
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Default How to break up dining bill with a bunch of people

So I've seen this done both ways, but I was wondering which way was the correct way.

Say you're out at a restaurant with coworkers. Everyone orders different things, some people are enjoying alcoholic beverages, others aren't. Some people order full meals and others just get an appetizer.

The bill comes. Do you:

A) Break the bill evenly amongst the people who are at the table. (i.e. if the bill is $200 and there were 7 people each person pays $28.58) or

B) Pay your portion of the bill dependent on what you ate.

When I'm with friends we always do B. We each pass the bill around and put in our portion based on what we ordered + tax/tip.

I was out with other coworkers and my boyfriend (most of whom were more senior members a few pay grades above me) and they opted for version A which made me a little uncomfortable. We were at a bar/restaurant after a sporting game and some people were drinking a lot (4 glasses+ of wine), some had ordered pitchers of beer, some people had ordered full dinners, others just snacks. We (my bf and I) had just purchased 3 beers and a basket of fries so our total bill was just around $15 for the two of us, but when the bill came and they opted to divide out evenly each person's portion was ~$20. They expected us to pay $40 for the two of us even though our total food bill/tax/tip was half that.

Unfortunately no one SAID out loud we were splitting evenly and since my boyfriend and I got the bill FIRST we put in our portion of the money ($19 or $20 bucks, I can't remember) into the checkbook and passed it on. Someone later got "offended" we weren't paying the whole $40 which was our split. We honestly didn't know they were doing it this way and were embarassed.

Is that fair? I usually do method B, but this was the first time I did method A. Thoughts?

Last edited by Coronet; 07-29-2011 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 07-29-2011, 11:47 AM
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Tell the waiter/waiter to do seperate bills when you order.
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Old 07-29-2011, 12:15 PM
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We always do separate bills. Seriously, as a waitress (back in the day) I always asked if people wanted this. I preferred it this way, because often when larger tables have one bill you get stiffed on the tip (the person paying just takes everyone's tip they chipped in and uses it to pay for their share - you might be surprised at how often this happens). Separate checks works out better usually.

If for some reason it was all on one bill (which I don't do), I would definitely do version B and pay for what I ate/drank (plus tip of course). Why should I pay if someone else has champagne wishes and caviar dreams?
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Old 07-29-2011, 01:57 PM
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Your experience is a good reason for separate bills! If everyone had a similar expense, dividing evenly makes sense.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:24 PM
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I always ask for separate bills, but in the event the bills are already passed out, I just keep my mouth shut and pay the extra money - assuming it is reasonable. No reason to complain about $20 with friends.
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Old 07-29-2011, 05:41 PM
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I think it's *correct* to know in advance whether each will pay their own tab or via even split. I don't think you and BF should feel embarrassed, the others who failed to mention the split at the start should not feel offended since the orders were so unbalanced. Pass it off to a life lesson and ask/say how you anticipate splitting the bill. It doesn't have anything to do with income in my view, it has all to do with consumption. Why would colleagues expect coworkers to pay their tab? Do the same people take advantage of others in the workplace in other situations/circumstances? I've seen them get lower ranks to do their work, do their errands, take credit for work and ideas of others etc.
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Old 07-29-2011, 06:03 PM
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I agree, in most every case, my friends and I just ask for separate bills upfront (option 'B'). If for some reason a restaurant can't/won't do that, we all just figure out who's got cash, and there again, we work out paying for our own portions of the tab.

Alternately, there's always the fun little game of credit card roulette, where everybody throws a credit card into a hat and the waitress chooses one to pick up the entire tab. Generally, this only works out well when you consistently go out with the same group of people, so everyone eventually picks up the bill a couple times. Waitress always finds it funny though.
"Praestantia per minutus" ... "Acta non verba"
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Old 07-29-2011, 06:30 PM
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I would never pay someone else's bar tab. I don't drink alcohol and I don't believe I should have to subsidize those who do, particularly someone greedy enough to have 4 drinks because they think others will pick up part of the tab. Seriously, I ask for a separate bill. Unless I am treating, there is no reason for me to pay for other people to scarf down steak and lobster while I eat half a club sandwich and drink water. Embarrassing or not, and to me it's not, I pay my share and my tip. If the waitress says she cannot give me a separate bill I will ask for the manager and they always figure it out anyway.

Last edited by LuckyRobin; 07-29-2011 at 07:03 PM.
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Old 07-30-2011, 01:22 AM
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Absolutely pay the portion of the bill you ate. Better yet, have the server break the bills up for you. They should have no trouble doing this if you tell them before you order.
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Old 07-30-2011, 03:00 PM
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I have always done B with co-workers and was doing A with friends thinking most friends would be understanding of each others situation and it worked out fine until recently.

A new "friend" invited me and a couple of guys for his daughter's birthday dinner at a fairly decent restaurant. Now, each of us absolutely expected to pay our own bills. Nothing was said by the host prior or during the dinner about how the bill would be split. The bill came, they passed it around to us to be split evenly which meant each of us guys pay as much as the two families there (approx 4 members in each family). Honestly, three of us were shocked since each of us would be paying three times what we ordered.
Of course we could have refused to pay for their portion but at that moment we figured we were better people than sit there and argue. On top of this, on our way out we discover they ordered additional food to go on the same bill
Not surprisingly, we're not really great friends with the guy so these things do matter. Now when I'm with people not too familiar with, I casually speak up about how the bill will be split.
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Old 07-30-2011, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by DKAS View Post
Now when I'm with people not too familiar with, I casually speak up about how the bill will be split.
"Praestantia per minutus" ... "Acta non verba"
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:55 PM
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I've seen this work the other way out with my friends who, ahem, practice a certain religion.

At every meal over a vacation weekend, my companions would discuss how many wings they ate each, exactly how many beers they poured themselves, and how many servings they should actually pay for.

For me, a meal with friends and co-workers should be a casual, social, bond-forming event. Unless we're talking about lobster and steak dinners costing several hundreds or thousands of dollars, I'd rather pay extra dollars for the good company.

Realizing this is a saving forum, if you're in a position to be irked by how the bill might be cut at the end, then you'd better speak up or ask for a separate bill from the beginning.
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Old 07-31-2011, 01:52 AM
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With coworkers, it is a bit trickier if you are out with a group of people you work with. With friends, we always get separate checks. We got stiffed one time when out with people who wanted to eat, drink and be merry off of someone else's dime, ours. So, from then on we decided we weren't footing the tab for those who want to take advantage.
As for going out with coworkers, do you really need to or want to do this? Don't you spend enough time with them as it is? And, if it is costing you money and too sticky of a situation, i personally would just start missing a few of these events over time and just become more and more infrequent and pretty much stop going. Though, it might be good to go once in awhile as part of the cost of doing business. But, just give a brief , vague, "sorry, i can't make it", excuse, don't launch into any long winded explanations and leave it at that.
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Old 07-31-2011, 05:23 AM
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I HATE it when they split the bill up that way.....why should I be responsible for your steak and wine when I had the chicken sandwich and water?

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Old 07-31-2011, 07:19 AM
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I agree. I hate paying for someone else's food. I always ask for seperate checks. The last time I went with a large group, the bill got split and I paid far more than I should. I never went out with that group again.
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Old 07-31-2011, 11:04 AM
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I think it is most fair if everyone pays their exact portion of what they ate or drank. This way, no one can complain they paid an unfair portion later on.
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Old 07-31-2011, 07:19 PM
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I have the opposite problem...

I have very close friends who insist on paying for everything. When we get the check we usually end up fighting over who pays. This is usually great because they're like family so I like treating them to things and vice versa. This is not so great however when we go on trips and have to eat together all the time.

They like to eat extravagantly. I eat semi-conservatively, but getting separate bills isn't an option since they would absolutely reject that and just pay for it all instead. I'm not trying to be cheap or whatever, so I don't want to let them pay for it all but I'm not sure how to resolve this without avoiding outings with them all together. Anyone have experience with this?
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Old 08-04-2011, 03:16 PM
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We usually split up the bill into equal portions.
Somebody usually benifits financially from this but it is the polite thing to do.
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Old 04-24-2012, 04:18 AM
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i would say that roughly 80% of the time that a bill gets split evenly, i end up having to cover the remainder of a 20% tip. even with honest people, it just shakes out like that....split bill is ideal. option B WILL screw the server at least 50% of the time i'd say. but i think that most of the forum has made it clear as to where their sympathies lies there
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Old 04-25-2012, 07:36 PM
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I refuse to pay more than what I ate or drink. I will put in for tax and some tip but I am not paying $40 when all I had was water and a burger. I went out for sushi with like 20 people for a birthday party and the bill was several hundred dollars and they wanted to split the bill evenly and each person's share was like $40. I hate sushi and did not eat any so why should I be forced to pay for food I didn't eat. I hate beef teriaki and rice and a beer so my bill should have been like $20. After that fiasco, I get my own bill unless I am buying.
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