The Argument FOR Separate Checks

There is always an ongoing debate about separate checks. History tells us that servers do not like to deal with them, but with advanced technology in restaurant computer systems, separating a check is now as easy as pushing a few buttons. When servers really get their aprons in a twist is when customers do not tell them in advance that they would like separate checks and wait until the last minute to throw a wad of bills and several credit cards on the table while yelling out what they are paying for. I understand the point of separate checks, I really do. Sometimes, you just want to pay for what you had and not a penny more.

Last week I had a six top in the restaurant. Some people were ordering apps and cocktails while others were not. When it came time to pay the check, I heard the blow hard at the head of the table belch out, “Hey everybody, let’s just divide it six ways; 28 bucks apiece.” From my point of view it was great. Their bill was $142 which meant I got a $26 tip, or 18%. Yes, I earned that tip with my stellar service and for not cutting a bitch when a a six-top showed up 20 minutes before closing time when there was no one else in the restaurant and my side-work was already done. They gave me mostly cash and and one credit card and it was all easy, breezy and beautiful. Well except for the one guy who got totally shafted by the “let’s all pay 28 bucks apiece” plan.

The man who had the great idea of splitting it equally had two cocktails ($18.00), a calamari ($8.00) and a burger ($10.50) His total was $36.50 before tax and tip, but he was getting off with paying a fraction of that. Meanwhile, Mr. Milquetoast on the other end of the table had mussels ($8.00) and fries ($3.50) and water for a total of $11.50 before tax and tip. He was being screwed sans lube with a basket of fried calamari and he was just going to take it. Maybe he only ordered $11.50 worth of food because he only had $11.50 worth of money. I watched the man struggle with the decision of whether or not to speak up about it and then hand over twenty-eight dollars. It was clear he did not want to do it, but he didn’t want to be that friend in the group who looks like a cheap ass bitch.

I would have been the cheap ass bitch who said something. The guy at the head of the table was a real loud-mouth son of a bitch who monopolized the conversation and cracked way too many unfunny jokes. The man on the other end of the table seemed quiet and shy and probably chose to sit as far away as possible from Mr. Douchey. Had it been me, I would have declined the invite as soon as I found who else was going to be there. But this guys wasn’t me. If he was me, he would have said:

“Um, guys. I hate to be the cheap ass bitch at the table, but I only had an app and some fries so I’m only gonna pay for mine. It was $11.50 plus 8.87% tax makes it $12.52 plus a 20% tip is $15.02 so I am leaving a total of $17. Yeah, I’m leaving two extra bucks to help cover which ever one of you skanks is gonna to try to stiff the server. Here’s a ten, a five and two singles. Outta here, buh bye.”

But he wasn’t me. So he basically said:

“Um, okay, here’s my money. I only have a twenty and a bunch of singles. Twenty-eight? Is that right? Okay, here’s twenty-eight  dollars, I guess. Next time, can you please use some lube or a pat of butter before you screw me because this is rather uncomfortable. You’d think I’d be used to it by now because I have no spine or backbone which makes it all the more simple for me to get fisted right here in the restaurant. Oh, what’s that? We’re short four dollars? Let me reach into where my balls used to be and see if I have any more money. Okay, I do. Here it is. Sorry it’s wet from my tears of pussification. Thank you everybody.”

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21 thoughts on “The Argument FOR Separate Checks

  1. Anonymous

    I feel for him, I have had someone last week have this happen to her. She pulled me a side after I gave them their check, she asked if I could get her a seperate check. The spilt would have been $32 between 6 people, but her only ordered $15 worth. I gave her a seperate check, then watched her go back and not tell the rest of the group.She left me a $10 tip, well the group tip me a total tip of $13.05

    Reply
  2. Becky LeJeune

    We have friends notorious for drinking it up and then wanting to split even (and I don't drink, which means I get to pay part of their alcohol binge!). We learned our lesson early on. Now we tell the waiter very quietly at the beginning of the meal that the two of us are on one check so there's no confusion concerning us later on. And we tip 20% as a habit because said friends are CHEAP! It's quite embarrassing. It's also called being a mooch. I'm onto their games!

    Reply
  3. AmberD

    love it! You say all the things I wanted to say in my 10 years of waiting tables. So happy the husband wont let me wait tables again! =)

    Reply
  4. GingerG

    I have kept my mouth and gone along with this crap because I didn't want to look "cheap" in front of my friends. Then one time, I just kind of lost it with them. I didn't have a lot of money on me and only ordered an entree and one beer. Meanwhile everyone else ordered multiple expensive cocktails, appetizers, entrees, and deserts. Then they wanted to split the check evenly! My brother was actually our waiter that night, maybe that's one reason I felt I could speak up and insist on my own check that time. I don't mind splitting evenly when everyone's tab is within a few bucks of each other but I don't want to subsidize someone else's much higher priced meal either.

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  5. Vicki

    It annoys me when people want to do that most times…I order what I order because that's what I can afford. If I wanted to pay for your cheap a$$ I would have said, "Hey everyone, it's on me tonight." =P

    Reply
  6. Red Daisy

    I had a group of girlfriends that used to meet for Happy hour on Friday nights. We met for Happy hour because we were all broke and couldn't afford the regular dinner prices. I would always order only an app and a drink, sometimes only a drink. they would split meals, order multiple apps and multiple drinks, then say "well, let's just split this. everyone owes $25" meanwhile I know my tab was under $10 including my 18% tip. I played that game twice, then i started bringing cash and telling them before they could call the split "mine was only $x, so here it is."

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  7. souris

    I think the "let's split it X ways" person is an even bigger douchebag than the trio with the sunglasses on backward. That is ALWAYS a maneuver to get someone else to pay for his (or her) extra drink(s).Feel sorry for the guy who got screwed because he couldn't speak up. Wonder if he ever will learn the lesson. He's better off drinking alone than with this bunch.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    I haven't waited tables or bartended for years…but have many such experiences. I think as you grow older, your balls get bigger. My friends would never pull this on me, those who would are not. Love your blog..keep up the good work.. Laura

    Reply
  9. nikki

    my only issue as a server is when i am super, super busy and people (big parties in particular) tell me afterwards they want seperate checks…then all pay in cash and all want change. we keep our own money and i always have to get change from the bartender for each seperate person and it sucks. big giant pain in the ass. then they go and wave money at me as im bringing out others food and expect me to get right on it. come on, smarten up people…

    Reply
  10. Practical Parsimony

    I always speak up first about separate checks. I think some people are grateful. I know I am since I rarely drink, especially at restaurant prices. Even at someone's house, one glass of wine is my limit. I don't have much money and no credit card. I have a debit card I have never used. So, no one can fault me for paying for only what I eat and drink. If they do, tough doo doo. Sadly, I have a few friends who want to split the check–sad for them because I don't play their game even when I have more money. I usually order chicken wherever I eat, so my check is lowest at the table. Most restaurant iced tea is nasty, so water suits me just fine!Yes, I am cheap. And solvent. I never have emergencies where I need to borrow money because I bought food for someone else who has more money than I.The hame of my blog says it all.

    Reply
  11. NellieVaughn

    I've mentioned this before, but there is no way I would ever agree to splitting the check evenly. I am a freakin' vegan that's allergic to gluten. There's little on most menus I can actually eat. Screw paying for someone else's meal.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    Just as a question on asking for checks to be split; My husband and I are friends with mostly single people and occasionally go out to eat with them. Is it easier to ask for separate checks with one check having two people or ask for separate checks all across and paying for two of them together?

    Reply
  13. maxi

    Separate checks are still a rarity in the UK so when you have a large table of 20 or so out for a celebration, and everyone is tipsy and trying to work out their bill…. well…. it's NOT fun! I don't mind splitting it evenly if we've all partaken evenly. But after being burned a couple of times I sort out the check BEFORE dinner. "So are we gonna split it evenly or pay for our own?" Tends to clear the air I find 🙂

    Reply
  14. Shirelle

    When you go out on group dates, sometimes you do pay a little more. If I'm sharing apps and having drinks I do expect to pay a little more to include the tip. HOWEVER, when that "little more" costs more than about $10 more than what I've had, we have a problem. You shouldn't have to pay for someone's RIbs,shrimp and chicken platter when all you had was a $8 drink and $3 onion rings. For example, a group of 8 friends and myself were celebrating a birthday at Maggianos. If you've ever been, you know they serve separate meals as well as the family style meals, which we thought would be cool for such a large group. One menu was $30 and the other one was $40. All but one wanted the cheaper one, not because of the price rather it had food that we wanted. The more expensive one had things that no one really cared for. Anyway, the one chick basically bullied everyone into getting the $40 meal because she wanted crabcakes. She should have just ordered a side of them for herself. I figured (before i got to the restaurant) that I would be spending about 55-75 bucks. 30 for food. 10 towards the birthday girls meal and 10 for a tip. I thought that sounded about right. I didn't drink anything that evening because I had plans for after dinner at a bar. No sense in spending $16 on a shot of Grey Goose when the local bar has it for $6. The loudmouth is eating AND drinking, but wanted to split the bill equally. Totaling $70 per person!!!!! Needless to say, a lot of us were pissed off. So in some cases, I do think you should only pay for what you had. In a situation where everything is shared, the cost should be shared as well.

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  15. Anonymous

    Love your blog! My husband and I go out often for dinner with friends and always request separate checks. The waiters don't seem to mind, and it is so much easier than haggling over who owes what when the check comes or someone paying more or less than their fair share. Plus we always give the waiter an extra tip for the additional work. Our daughter is a waitress and while we have always always been pleasant customers and tippers, she has given us a new perspective and appreciation for waitstaff:)

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    every time i go out and request separate checks, i get denied. i don't understand. i live in nyc & go to places with other couples and ask for separate checks they're all "we don't do that" … i thought i was doing them a favor by requesting separate checks but i always get shit on. what gives?? i can't even remember the last time someone DID give me separate checks. : Nothing towards you i just… don't understand what's so difficult about it. is it the places i go or the people i get as servers? i don't understand. so at the end we still have to throw a bunch of credit cards and cash on the table… here i thought i was saving the waiter work, guess not … bleh, sorry… i've had such bad experiences recently i just cook at home now for the most part. fuck nyc and its overpriced restos.

    Reply
  17. Anonymous

    What I don't like is when a table tells me (after dinner) to write down who had what, go to the computer make seperate checks for each of them, and 80% of the time they are within 2 dollars of each other.

    Reply
  18. Anonymous

    "Yes, I earned that tip with my stellar service and for not cutting a bitch when a a six-top showed up 20 minutes before closing time when there was no one else in the restaurant and my side-work was already done."You were still open for business and customers actually walked in the door? how rude of them.

    Reply
  19. Anonymous

    The person who puts in "what they owe" is often an argument for separate checks, too. I started getting them whenever I was with a group because of the people who forget about a drink, or tax, or tip.

    Reply
  20. Mary Ann

    It happened over 10 years ago and I'm still pissed. It's my boyfriends friend's birthday and we hit this Italian place that says its plates are big enough to be shared. That's a lie. So I split my meal with 2 other women and my boyfriend gets his own meal. We also split an appt with 3 other people and the table splits 2 desserts. The other 15 or so people order their own meals and multiple alcoholic drinks. We both had water to drink . So after we eat the wife announces we will all just split the bill, really. One guy had two drinks that were $40 a piece, I have no idea what they are but we just got roped into paying for one of them. So for 1 &1/2 meals, 1/2 an app and 4 bites of dessert we "owe" $40 a piece. WTF. I'm still pissed and have never wanted to hang out with these people again.

    Reply
  21. Robert

    From the other side of the cheap looking glass; I invited my BIL and his wife out to eat. My wife loves her brother but not so much his wife so we don’t socialize with them very often. They called and added BIL’s Mother-In-Law at the last minute which I thought was a bit rude as I assumed they realized that since I invited them and did not bring up money that I was picking up the tab.

    Conversation on the way home with my wife after dinner:

    Me: You know, I wouldn’t have ordered two appetizers if I had realized BIL’s wife and her mother weren’t going to even have any at all. And the mother only ordered a salad as her entree so I’m really surprised she didn’t want any of the app’s!
    Wife: You realize they had absolutely no idea you were going to pay for everyone, don’t you?

    Oh well, I guess you can say they were a cheap date!

    Reply

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