Dining as a Group. Paying as a Group.
I’m sure many of you have experienced (or forced the experience upon others) of “splitting the check evenly” among all your fellow diners. I know J. Money (formerly J. Savings) did recently. Well last night we were involved in a check-splitting ourselves, and I sort of stood my ground.
We had a going-away party for a former coworker at a moderatly-priced Indian restaurant in Virginia. There were 12 of us, counting the guest-of-honor, and also Stacie (even though she never worked with him). We have a rule against dining out on week nights, but this was a special occasion, so we were allowed. The guy is moving to Budapest, Hungary for an unknown number of years (he’s a British national in the U.S. as an ex-patriot for the last 7 years. Whew, I don’t envy his financial situation of converting currencies and handling pensions!).
Anywho, we split 3 appetizers among all 12 of us ($8 each), and there was so much food that I was almost full before we even ordered our main course. So instead of each ordering a meal, Stacie and I split a meal. The waiter was very pushy that it wouldn’t be enough food, etc etc., but I held firm that we would split the meal. Plus it meant room for dessert if we wanted.
Our meal was about $12, and we each had waters, so the running total is $16 for the two of us. I know our guest’s meal was about $14 (he got water too), so tack on another $3 (rounded off) to make it $19 as we were helping to cover his meal.
If you consider 20% tip and 6% tax, our own bill should have come out to be about $24 total.
Splitting the Check Evenly, but not Fairly
But when the check came and they did the math (wrong at first anyway. They divided by 12, not 11), the total per person was $22.50. Wow, nothing like spending $21 MORE than what we owed. We got a veggie dish while others got meat dishes (a $2-4 difference) and a few got Mango Lasi drinks or other fountain drinks.
So I walked over to the friend collecting the totals and gave him $27. That was the $22 (rounded down) for one person, plus another $5 to help cover our share of the appetizers.
Then I found out he miscalculated and the share per person should have been $24.50. I asked if he wanted more from us, but he declined. He absorbed the extra cost (he’s a meek individual, luckily for our wallets).
What would you have done?
I know a number of you would have shelled out the $45 for two people, while others would have asked for a separate check (yeah, try doing it in a restaurant that hates splitting checks among 2 couples, much less 12), but I went for the middle ground of offering more than our actual share of the cost, but not nearly as much as was being asked. Think I’m cheap? Think I’m a hero? Think I’m an absolutely normal, boring guy?