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Waiter, split that check


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Here's the situation that occured to us last month.

We were 9 people. It was a slow Tuesday night for the restaurant. Our bill came to $450.

We passed around the check and 5 of us had cash, 4 credit cards.

On the back of the bill we wrote card Jones = $50, card Smith = $45, card Doe = $55, card Knight = $40, the rest is in cash.

We spent 20 minutes making sure everything was adding up, etc.

We handed the check and cards/cash to the waitress at which point she stated "we will only accept one form of payment. One of you will have to put all of it on a card".

Say what??? You just watched us divide this all up, itemize it clearly for you and now you tell us you'll only take one card? Rules like that should be stated on the menu (it wasn't) or clarified before we even order (it wasn't).

I put it all on my card just to get out of there but believe me...there are now 9 people who will NEVER go to that restaurant again and the 9 of us have BIG mouths! Take that Veritable Quandary in Portland, OR !!

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We handed the check and cards/cash to the waitress at which point she stated "we will only accept one form of payment.  One of you will have to put all of it on a card".

Say what???  You just watched us divide this all up, itemize it clearly for you and now you tell us you'll only take one card?  Rules like that should be stated on the menu (it wasn't) or clarified before we even order (it wasn't).

What would happen if you just said "no." As in: "No, we can't put it all on one card. These credit cards are valid forms of payment for the meals, and we would like to use the cards to pay. Since this rule was not stated on the menu or told to us before we ordered, we're sorry but we cannot comply with your request for a single credit card."

Nicities aside, who is technically in the right here? I believe that a restaurant saying that they won't divide checks is similar to them saying that they won't make change for a $100. And I believe that if push comes to shove, if you're going to either demand that they divide the check or walk out without paying, that they'll do it.

I'd rather the situation not get that ugly, but I think you were treated unfairly. At the very least, a talk with the restaurant manager should have cleared things up.

Bruce

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Bruce:

Without getting into the more gory details it was the dinner from hell and this check matter was the last straw so to argue at that point was going to make a bad situation worse. And 3 of us wrote letters to the owner (who was not available that evening) and no one has received a response. Some people just don't care.

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I know that when I'm part of a group that's divvying up everything onto respective debit cards, I increase the tip in an attempt to offset the inconvenience.

Why doesn't one person pay the whole thing on his/her card and have everyone reimburse him/her with cash? That's what groups including me do when we don't simply pay the whole thing in cash. Are you sharing $200/person meals in the above situations?

I meant in situations where nobody has cash.

Many restaurants here now have notices that they won't do separate transactions over a certain number of people, say 6, but that doesn't seem unreasonable. The processing time alone, waiting for the machine to pick up and all, can put a server really far behind on their other tables.

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Without getting into the more gory details it was the dinner from hell and this check matter was the last straw so to argue at that point was going to make a bad situation worse.  And 3 of us wrote letters to the owner (who was not available that evening) and no one has received a response.  Some people just don't care.

One hopes that those sorts of people find another profession, one where caring is not so important.

Like wrestler. Or computer help desk operator. Or California Gubernatorial candidate.

Bruce

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The processing time alone, waiting for the machine to pick up and all, can put a server really far behind on their other tables.

as can taking the time to explain the difference btwn the 6 oysters they might be offering that night. it's part of the job.

Hear hear.

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The processing time alone, waiting for the machine to pick up and all, can put a server really far behind on their other tables.

as can taking the time to explain the difference btwn the 6 oysters they might be offering that night. it's part of the job.

Hear hear.

HO HO !

I'm sure that if that's part of the job, that the responsability also includes being sure to charge every person according to how many of the six oysters they've eaten.

How much extra should be charged to each patron for supplying a who ate what, who ordered what. who drank what, and who shared what, plus of coarse whom belongs to who ? This would certainly make it easier for those who come to supposedly enjoy dinner, but are more concerned regarding only paying for what THEY`have each consumed.or shared. Certainly never about having a good time enjoying themselves, friends or the experience. This would easily cost anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00 per person plus additional state and federal taxes and credits.

In my experience we've never objected to charging several credit cards or being paid partially with cash. But almost every server anticipated getting screwed by the tips, as the cheapo's often didn't bother to tip, since they didn't anticipate returning, and didn't give a damn. Not my kind of customers, but still sympathize with the servers.

By the way, for your information when you add the tip onto your credit cards the restaurant is charged a percentage, based on the gross total of the charge, that is either absorbed, or taken off the amount paid to the server. Either way this has to be taken into account when pricing menus.

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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HO HO !

I'm sure that if that's part of the job, that the responsability also includes being sure to charge every person according to how many of the six oysters they've eaten.

no no. i just don't see that. and i don't know if that's germane to this discussion, which i assume is about splitting a total bill on several credit cards, rather than charging each diner for his own share.

again, these are two completely different issues, each worthy of a thread.

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I can understand not wanting to split the check after the check has been prepared and presented to the customers. But when people want separate checks before they order -- why is that a problem? If we dined alone and ate ate 3 different tables we'd have 3 different checks.

If a customer wants to split the bill on two credit cards, they should tell the server what to charge on what card. I have never had a problem doing this. It is not the server's job to split the cost of the bruchetta 7 ways.

I can see the tip being bigger with separate checks. If the check is just for my meal, I'll tip my usual 20% or more, depending on the service. But if the check comes for the whole meal there are two problems. First, some don't tip well or figure the tip out correctly and the server doesn't get what he/she deserves. Second, with those that don't tip well, it's hard to throw in extra to make up for it. I've been known to "forget" something at the table just so I can go back and add some money to the tip on the table.

I suppose it is human nature to see a $15 lunch bill and leave a good tip, but if that same person sees a $100 lunch bill and they freak out and think that they spent too much and need to skimp somewhere.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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i don't do 8.  i'll do 2.  sometimes 3 or 4.  to suggest that it's somehow bizarre or inappropriate that people ask for the tab to be split on credits seems naive to me.  but, of course, whatever i say, you seem disagree with.  so be it.

Just so you know, if someone else wrote the same things, I'd disagree with that person, too. :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Have a good one. :biggrin:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Just in case anyone actually cares what my opinion is :biggrin: , I agree with TPO that it's completely reasonable to request separate checks before ordering, and I do that sometimes. What I think isn't reasonable is to request separate checks only when getting ready to pay.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Just in case anyone actually cares what my opinion is  :biggrin: , I agree with TPO that it's completely reasonable to request separate checks before ordering, and I do that sometimes. What I think isn't reasonable is to request separate checks only when getting ready to pay.

That, I agree with.

But it is reasonable to ask a waiter to divide up a single bill among multiple credit cards in a particular way.

Bruce

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Just in case anyone actually cares what my opinion is  :biggrin: , I agree with TPO that it's completely reasonable to request separate checks before ordering, and I do that sometimes. What I think isn't reasonable is to request separate checks only when getting ready to pay.

That, I agree with.

But it is reasonable to ask a waiter to divide up a single bill among multiple credit cards in a particular way.

Bruce

I don't think it is. If the diners didn't request separate checks before ordering, I think they should provide a single form of payment. Clearly, others disagree, but that's what I think.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Just in case anyone actually cares what my opinion is  :biggrin: , I agree with TPO that it's completely reasonable to request separate checks before ordering, and I do that sometimes. What I think isn't reasonable is to request separate checks only when getting ready to pay.

That, I agree with.

But it is reasonable to ask a waiter to divide up a single bill among multiple credit cards in a particular way.

Bruce

sure. that's obviously easier than asking for separate checks at the beginning of the meal, which not only gives the server more headaches, but the kitchen as well i would imagine.

anyone who has run a credit card knows that you just type in the number and swipe. it ain't rocket science, and it doesn't take long to do it twice. furthermore, these things have to be put through twice a lot of times as it is, as the first time doesn't work.

Edited by tommy (log)
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But it is reasonable to ask a waiter to divide up a single bill among multiple credit cards in a particular way.

Bruce

sure. that's obviously easier than asking for separate checks, which not only gives the server more headaches, but the kitchen as well i would imagine.

anyone who has run a credit card knows that you just type in the number and swipe. it ain't rocket science, and it doesn't take long to do it twice. furthermore, these things have to be put through twice a lot of times as it is, as the first time doesn't work.

I'm starting to reconsider my position! It sounds like the only issue may be that the patrons indicate clearly - and preferably, in writing, if there are more than two or three of them - what to charge whom.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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In writing? You mean like when you order at some sushi places with little slips of paper?

Otherwise I'd expect the waiter to handle a split just as well as they handle an order. If it's something simple (50/50, or $23 here and the rest there), in their head. If it's something complex... well, you shouldn't do that to them.

BTW, what my friends do to adjust for the skimpy eater/indulgent eater is quite simple: we split the check (say 50/50), then adjust it in the tip, typically one person pays 100% of the tip and the other 0%. This typically gets it in range. And then the balance is in writing.

Edited by mb7o (log)
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It's perfectly reasonable for customers to request a division of payment, 50/50, 3 ways etc or even $ amounts, at the end of the meal. Most POS software supports this easily, and it's not terribly time consuming. The only real problems exist when customers want to pay for specific meals without informing the server in advance of ordering. This always takes alot of time and reconfiguring of individual amounts. Problems arise, too when large groups want to pay individually in cash, as a server making change for 10 or 15 guests can take a bit of time!

Caveat Emptor.....as a customer you should always check your credit card receipt when multiple cards are used, not just for the correct $$, but to make sure that amount is on YOUR card. When a server is shuffling 4 or 5 cards mistakes can happen!

As far as increasing tips, I don't think splitting the bill has any baring on the end result. Each person will just tip as they normally would, some rounding to an even dollar, some EXACTLY 15, 18 or 20%. It's interesting to see how different people at the same table will tip differently on exactly the same amount.

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I agree that paying the bill via multiple credit cards or a combination of multiple credit cards and cash shouldn't be a big deal. That said, I think it should be the responsibility of the diners to divide the bill, and not the restaurant staff.

As for taking separate orders for everyone at the table... Of course, in certain restaurants (diners come to mind) it's not a big deal to do a separate bill for everyone in a party of six as though they were six individual customers. In that case, the customers should not expect that all the food will arrive at the same time, etc. For other restaurants it is a bigger deal... Maybe it's a pizza place where everyone will be eating from one pizza. No reason the restaurant should have to do the math of splitting the bill. Maybe it's a higher-end restaurant where it is an important part of the service to coordinate the orders for the entire table so they arrive on time, etc.

--

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I agree that paying the bill via multiple credit cards or a combination of multiple credit cards and cash shouldn't be a big deal.  That said, I think it should be the responsibility of the diners to divide the bill, and not the restaurant staff.

how about when it's down the middle? i consider myself a pretty considerate guy, and i never do that math (although i always say "but give him (my guest) the extra penny)".

i'm assuming that if it's 3 ways, and i do the math, the server has to check the math anyway. perhaps it's a nice gesture to do the math, but at the end of the day, it would seem that it falls on the server to go through it.

if there's ever a time when it's 3 or more, and someone wants to pay less, i generally don't bother eating with that person again, as i have no time for such nonsense.

Edited by tommy (log)
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I can understand not wanting to split the check after the check has been prepared and presented to the customers. But when people want separate checks before they order -- why is that a problem? If we dined alone and ate ate 3 different tables we'd have 3 different checks.

Well,

one reason is that the kitchen coordinates the orders to come together. Separate chits to the kitchen eat up the rail, infuriate the kitchen, and confuse the shit out of the foodrunners.

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There are places for People who are more concerened about paying the dining.

They are called "Cafeterias", or "Fast Food", or for more special occassions maybe a chain "Coffee Shop." All expect to provide seperate checks, most are paid, COD, or give you your own ticket. GO THERE.

Restaurants that you go into as a group, to share and enjoy a dining experience, socialize or celebrate a special event. They in order to do a "SATISFACTORY", job trying to coordinate the timing of your meal, with severs spending the dime to expedite and keep things moving along smoothly must pay attention to your group.

There is no way that the Kitchen, Servers or anyone else will be able to do a decent job if they are also expected to be your bookeeper.

If your going to a restaurant , before why not arrange how your going to order, pay bills, etc. So that you can enjoy yourselves. Spend your time having a experience. It doesn't matter what the Menu states, it much more important to have a good time. I've been dumb enough to pick up the whole tab, just to avoid any pain=in-the- ass. But i've then told off those that annoyed me. It was worth it. If anyone was irritated by my beghavior, I was glad, since I didn't care to go out with them again. Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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