By: Revanche

$10 meal for a $3 entree: the price of inattention

April 8, 2008

I’ve finally encountered the awkward check splitting scenario wherein you don’t know the party you’re with well enough to have a well-established routine to take care of the check, and I paid more than my share. GR!

Here’s what went down: C2 and I hung out with her boyfriend and their mutual friend before we gals went out to celebrate C1’s birthday. C2 and I were still full from a late lunch at work, so we just split an entree that was under $7. C2 had a drink, the boys had their own entrees, and drinks. In fact, her friend had two beers. When the bill came, her friend had gone to the restroom, and I threw in my credit card, not really thinking about it, and nearly got stiffed with half the bill. As it was, C2’s boyfriend remembered and called the waitress back to tell her to charge 1/4 of the bill to my card. Except, I should only have paid $5 or $6 for tax and tip. It’s not bank-breaking, but it’s a pointed little reminder that I just paid for some stranger’s beer because I wasn’t paying attention.

Next time, I’m going to remember that this is why I keep mini post-its in my wallet: so that I can write down my share and stick it to my card, thereby avoiding the awkwardness of saying, “er, I had water and half an entree, I’m not sure that I’m responsible for 50% of the bill!”

5 Responses to “$10 meal for a $3 entree: the price of inattention”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand – would you write the amount you’re comfortable paying on the post-it note, stick the note to your credit card, and put the credit card down in the group’s pile when the bill comes?? That seems even MORE awkward to me, and it would annoy me to no end if someone did that at a meal with me. If you want to pay a certain amount, speak up about it rather than being passive agressive about it and hoping it all ends well. It won’t: either the other people at the table will notice immediately and *gasp* ask you what your deal is, or they’ll notice when the waiter follows your directions and they get stuck with a higher bill than they thought. It’s better to speak up than to write a number down and hope it solves the problem.

  2. ~anon~ Actually, that’s the common practice whenever we go out with groups that are clearly not being treated by one person. We all look at the check, figure out how much we’re responsible for, and write it down so that the server doesn’t get confused about how much to charge each card. (That’s why I carry post-its now, I know that everyone’s going to want something to write on.) If anyone is treating someone else in the group, or if the group is treating a guest of honor, the additional amount with tax and tip is figured and that amount is added to each person’s check, as appropriate. When there are more than two parties paying, a point person/people will tally the total up the written amounts plus cash, and let the group know if we are over or under the appropriate total.

    It’s much more direct, or less silly, than what I did which was to put my card in without even looking at the bill, and assuming that they would figure out what I was responsible for, and then being annoyed that it didn’t come out accurately.

    Then again, I’ve never shared a meal where anyone tried to get away with paying less than they were supposed to, so we’re not concerned about people getting stiffed with a higher bill. When the numbers are off, it tends to be because someone did poor math, which is why our point person is whoever is best at doing mental math.

    Hope that clears it up!

  3. In a case like this when you’re spending so little, it’s probably good to have some cash on hand. I know businesses get annoyed at putting through credit card charges that are so low. I think most of the time when you pay more than you should it’s because of laziness. I’ve had friends go out and just ask to split the bill since it seems easier than determining how much each person spent, especially when there’s a large group involved. I know sometimes when I go out with people who are likely to want to split the bill evenly, I’ll end up ordering a little bit more.

  4. It is annoying when other people are less careful about this, especially when it turns out in their favor.

    This is a problem that cash doesn’t really eliminate, unless you carry lots of $5’s and $1’s so you can plunk down your share.

    (I also hate when people calculate their share, but skimp on tax/tip calculations)

  5. ~calgirlfinance~ I know, there are good reasons to carry cash, but I cannot seem to keep cash in my wallet for any length of time at all. It’s too frustrating, and budget-busting, to constantly have my cash melt away so I just don’t carry it much, if at all.

    ~stackingpennies~ Yep! I know it wasn’t intentional, but it’s still aggravating.

    I never want to be that person who skimps on tax/tip so I always calculate using a higher percentage, and it usually works out well.

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