Separate Bills [General]

2007 Dec 6
Just read a comment about this in "buzz" that it's to be expected that the server will get testy if you ask for separate bills and there are 6 or 8 people.

IMO if the restaurant won't do separate bills, for one I won't give them a cent of a tip (and I'll tell them so). And moreover, I will never go back there. I mean, what the heck do they expect? They are the ones with the computer for crying out load. Separate bills should be pretty easy with most modern cash registers.


2007 Dec 6
I completely agree with you, zymurgist. Especially now in the days when most people rarely carry cash with them - at least the people I know and associate with -in order to split the bills amongst themselves.

I also believe it's possible if the restaurant's computer doesn't do separate bills, for your server to take an extra minute and ring you in separately from the same bill - I really appreciate this in a restaurant and will tip accordingly.

Also, depending on the dining partner you have (e.g. first or second date, business dinner, etc.) the issue of not being able to split the cheque could be a bit awkward. But that is another topic of discussion entirely :)

2007 Dec 7
Agreed: splitting the bill is a no-brainer for everywhere except dim sum restaurants!

I'm a big fan of the POS systems that let you split of bottles of wine in wacky ways, like into fifths or sevenths. That's my kind of computer. Not everybody has it, though.

2007 Dec 7
Ahh....a thread after my own heart!
I am a huge fan of bill splitting. These days, some people drink, some people don't, some people have apps and dessert and some only a main course. This makes it very difficult to split the bill amongst the group at the table.

I also love the places that can split an appetizer three ways etc. I always find it shocking when I eat at a new restaurant (especially big box) and they don't have a system with this capability. Every restaurant should get one!

Usually we just tell them right off the bat when we sit down that we want separate bills and how they should be split. This avoids frustration after the fact.

In my experience, Indian and Thai resturants rarely split the bills or have a system with this capability - or any system at all for that matter :)

2007 Dec 7
I prefer to help the server and say it will be seperate bills if there is more than a few people. The better servers usualy ask during the ordering process though.

However, I have personaly never encountered a place where it was refused or frowned on.

2007 Dec 7
Yes, I agree it's quite rare but there are a few places. Wish I could recall which though. One I am thinking of is a big chain and we were there with a bunch of people at work (maybe 3 years ago). I was astonished to hear they didn't do separate bills and were it not that I was there with a bunch of coworkers I would have walked out.

2007 Dec 17
I've run into this problem at all-you-can-eat (AYCE) places. I think it's really unprofessional and poor service if a server gets testy/frustrated/upset at being asked to split a bill for a large group. Especially at AYCEs since it's a flat fee plus drinks.

2009 Dec 5
I am actually tired of restaurants that cannot provide this service and I get pretty ticked off now. I went somewhere this evening (will post review on appropriate thread), but I had a coupon and asked if they could split the amount on both our bills. They agreed to do so; I get the bills and the discount is not applied.

Why a customer should have to sit there and try to figure out the totals, plus tax, plus liquor tax here and there is beyond me. When I asked if the waiter could figure out our totals for us with a calculator or adding it up by hand, he actually brought me a calculator to do it myself. The tip was already in question before that. I should have tipped ZERO (as zymurgist suggested), but I gave well below 15%.

A few years ago I went to Joy, the 3 of us shared some appies and then had our dinner. Anyhow, the waiter at Joy separated our appies between us with pleasure. We couldn't hardly understand a word he said, but he was always smiling and happy and split our bill NO PROBLEM.

It improved my tip. This is what customer service is about.

ALL wait staff should be trained to ask about bill separation at the beginning of the meal - this is not rocket science and would save them a heck of a lot of time and improve their tips.

2009 Dec 6
I agree with Schnicken with the computers now adays, it is relatively easy to split the cheque, so indeed Servers should make it a point to ask this Question right up front... I mean gosh, if there is a group of Diners they do ask "Who is with who". And yes, I do love those places that can even divide particular items (like a bottle of wine)... we've often gone out to eat with another couple, and it has been a great surprise to find that the Server (and the computer) did that for us, charging us each half the price of the bottle and the appropriate taxes, made it a heck of a lot easier (and enjoyable). And as such the tip certainly reflected that.

2009 Dec 6
I don't disagree with Zym, but I think I would limit my tip and explain why, rather than just not tip at all.

That said, this happened to us yesterday when Husband and I went out for brunch with two other people, who were together, and the bill was not split. It's an awkward scenario to try and add up your own bills (especially in that crowd), and I don't want any one person to be stuck with the bill.

I think I'm going to be reactively proactive next time and ask at the start.

2009 Dec 6
Zymurgist - If it really is that big a deal(or problem) for you to have your bills split for you, then you could just ask the server before you start ordering. It has been my experience that if you ask early there is little problem. If you ask for seperate bills after a single bill has been printed then the probability of a problem arises. Why can't you just let the server know ahead of time that you have a huge problem with a single bill?

Or are you just one of those people who looks for any excuse to not properly tip your server?

2009 Dec 6
I usually ask server to get me separate bills before he/she issues the bill.
I don't recall any restaurants do not issue separate bills. Most of the servers ask me wheather I need separate bills or not. Some servers even issue separate bills without asking.
I noticed one thing interesting... when I eat with someone who has different ethnic background, I usually get saparate bills without asking.
When I had dinner with my hubby( he is caucasian), so many times we received separate bills without asking, or server asked us if we needed saparate Servers did not think my hubby and I as a "unit."
So if you are dating with someone, it is interesting to see if a server thinks that you and your date are intimate enough to count as a couple...or not!!!(just friends).

2009 Dec 7
Aisu Kurimu - I don't think this is so much an ethnic thing as just playing a "safe bet" by the Server... they know that if you are together you will combine the two chits and pay as one unit (you can even ask the Server to combine them if you like, most Computer Systems will do that function after the printing)... BUT, as stated some of the Computer Systems can't seperate things out once they are printed. Plus in this day and age, when women are just as likely to pay their own way (even on a date) or if your dining companion is just a friend, then the seperate bill thingy will cover off any potential awkward moments. I know "The Man" and I have encountered this feature as well... and at this phase in our lives we look very married... we just go with the flow (and usually chuckle).

2009 Dec 7
Mad Mike - some pretty big assumptions you are throwing around there. Actually I generally tip above 15% if service is good - but I am not an automatic tipper. And I generally do ask up front about separate bills.

2009 Dec 7
There are two issues here that are not the same. Separate bills should be easy, and always provided. However, splitting individual dishes (appetizers, or mains)across several people is sometimes more difficult and not always supported by the place. Further asking a server to split a 'discount' across more than one person... that is just stretching practicality. I will put myself forward here as the lone person to tell schnicken to suck it up, and just do the math yourself. What is this anxiety that everyone seems to have about paying a penny too much on a shared bill? Tax isn't that hard, and tip is also not that hard. Opining about the poor service of places doing things that you ought to be able to do yourself is shameful.

I remember one time, getting into an argument with a table full of people over a bill. It was a shared bill for about 10 people ( all acquaintances of mine in university). The bill came, and everyone 'chipped in' their share. I asked several times if everyone was sure they had given their share, and everyone confirmed. Since I was the organizer, I got out my wallet and pulled 3 more twenties out ( yup.. $60 ) to cover the shortfall. Intriguingly, this is where the argument started, not about the people who shortchanged their bill, but because everyone was mad that I was covering the shortfall, and that I should not have to do that. So I asked again, if anyone wanted to reconsider their contribution, and ended up with another $10. I was not angry about the $50, I was angry about everyone making a big deal out of it... it was very crass. Am I the only one who thinks arguing about money(with each other, or the waiter) out loud in public is crass? People who drop $150 on a cable tv bill, or $100 on a cell phone bill, or a myriad other excesses want to argue about 50 cents here, or a dollar there on an evening out with friends?

Whew... ok..sorry.. rant over.

2009 Dec 7
Pete-In-Ottawa - I hear you bud... and wacky as it seems, I think that everyone has been there done that... and we've all been short-changed by our dining companions because of it (hard to believe but true).

For that reason alone I hate the one bill situation for a group, the organizer ALWAYS seems to get shafted. OR, the equally crazy idea of splitting a bill evenly "Hey the Bill is $ 300 with tip, so lets call it $ 30 each"... when infact all I had was a Small Salad and a Pop, while someone else had 2 Beers and a Main... I seem to be off-setting their choices. Of course, this scenario almost always happens at a work lunch when one is most unlikely to make waves with co-workers or the Boss (especially if splitting the bill was their idea).

I also have seen over the years that there are more "cheap tippers" than we realize, this especially comes to the forefront during a group lunch (or the scenario you went thru). Folks will pay their bill, and add on the tax, but totally diss on the tip... even say when you made the second call for a contribution... there always seems to be someone who does the math outloud... "$ 17 plus tax and tip, yup we are ok"... and they say it with a straight face. When in fact it would work out to at least $ 22, but infact they've handed you just a $ 20

No thanks give me the seperate bills every time!

As for Splitting individual items, of course that is more of a BONUS than anything else if the computer system can support it, and the Server is considerate enough to do it. Splitting a Discount, now that is a new one to me... but I am sure there are "demanding" patrons who expect it. As we all know, being a server is a thankless job.

As for discussing money in public, yes it is crass... and ya it never seems to amaze me that the person in the group with the most flash, also seems to be the one most likely to stiff someone else, be it a table mate when splitting the bill, or the server with a tip. Have seen it countless times, even when there are seperate bills, and when rising from the table and see the amounts left by fellow diners. Which is why, when out with a group, I usually make a point of leaving at least 20% for the Server who has run his or her feet off to please our table. (And if you talk to Servers, they will tell you that groups tend to be their worst tippers).

2009 Dec 7
I tend to sidestep this issue myself by either eating in small groups (2-4) or eating in a chinese restauraunt where we all share the various dishes and contribute equally.

It is partially a linked issue; if the servers are unwilling to split a basic bill upon requests, especially ones upfront, there are other concerns. That typically coinsides with poor service by the server and poor service deserves less tipping inherently. If it was a good server serving a large group, I do try to tip fairly generously.

2009 Dec 7
Food & Think : Thank you for your imput :) I usually chuckle too.
My husband and I started dating because of the "one bill." when we had a first dinner together as friends/language exchange partner(it was in Osaka), we received one bill and I didn't have enough cash. So my husband said "Don't worry I pay for us this time, and next time you pay." I couldn't say no to second date because I owed him, and we have been together since

My Chinese friend told me when he and his relatives have big dinner out, usually one person pays all the bill and next time another person pays all the bill...The amount of the bill can be quite big, like 300~500 dollars! He is avoiding his turn as long as possible...

When I have a night out with my friends, I usually bring a calculator in my pocket. It's handy especially after having many glass of wine and vodka.

2009 Dec 7
Aisu Kurimu - Lol, wonder how much your future hubby, tipped the Server for that? (Did you ever think that it might have been a set-up so that he could ensure seeing you again, and you'd be in a spot unable to refuse? Men have been known to go to great lengths to go out with the girl they wish to date). You should ask him... he might surprise you with the answer.

I met "The Man" thru a mutual friend... When I finally said YES to a date with him we went with a large group of his friends (couples) to a Friday Night Dinner with Dancing (to see a band we both liked play)... he then "extended" Date One (Fun One) into Date Two (Get to Know Him Date) by telling me that he was having a Christmas Party at his house the next night, and I was of course invited... BUT he did this infront of all these people, so they naturally said "Oh yes, we'd love you to be there". By the end of that party, I was sunk. I was so welcomed by the group, and dazzled by his entertainment skills, that it was only natural to accept the invitation for Date Three (which turned out to be the romantic one... fancy dinner at a nice restaurant).

I have friends from various ethnic backgrounds and several of them go out for dinners (vs hosting a dinner at home) and yes they use the same method, of taking turns to pay... like your friend, they have told me that the cost can be astronomical when it is their turn. And even sometimes that someone would like to change the status quo, but it is difficult because it is like they are stuck in an endless circle (and no one wants to offend).

2009 Dec 7
Aisu - after many glasses of wine & vodka, I'm usually incapable of using a pocket calculator!

2009 Dec 7
Food & Think: I will ask him
You know,in Japan, you don't have to pay tip. There is no custom to hand a tip to server!!! (I kinda miss it.)
So some of the Japanese tourists who come to Canada, don't pay tip (because they don't know) I heard many restraunts in tourist area pre-charge tip on the bill.

Chimichimi: after many glasses of wine and vodka, I am usually incapable of communicating in back to home one piece, but curse my boots and tight jeans, my cat run away, throw away my glasses and watch, try to brush my teeth but forget about removing makeup, then drop dead.

2009 Dec 7
Aisu Kurimu - Of course I forgot that there was no tipping for servers when I wrote that... but it generates a new Question for me... how does one thank someone who does something "super special" for one to make the experience exceptional. I am thinking of our custom here of "tipping" to the Host / Hostess when one asks for say a particular seating (the best table in the house with the best view) for a special occasion... or as is the custom here, if the Maitre D' helps a young man with his plans to say propose (arranges for flowers, chocolates, special dessert, whatever... does something above and beyond the basic services that a Restaurant would provide).

2009 Dec 8
PiO - I agree that expecting to split the coupon was too much.

2009 Dec 8
Food and Think: hmmm, I guess it depends how big is the favor you ask to a server. Le Cordon Bleu for example, they offer a private dining room for special occasion such as marriage proposal, 20th anniversary...etc...without extra charge. It is part of their service , but if you still want to show your appreciation, you can give extra tip or become a loyal customer.

I work at a retirement home as kitchen/dining room staff, I serve private dining room when residents have birthday party or any special occasion. Many times I was offered tip from them, but I had to refuse it.(It is company policy)
I felt bad not because I couldn't put money in my pocket, because they really wanted to thank me but I had to say no to old folks :(

2009 Dec 9
Aisu Kurimu - LOL, I guess I didn't explain myself clearly... I was wondering what the custom would be in Japan if one wanted to organize a special event at a Restaurant and they were to go the extra mile for a customer... arrange for decorations, a favourite table, special wine or dessert, that kind of thing. Would one tip under those circumstances? And if not, how would a customer express their thanks in that culture?

As for the Retirement Home... I too have spent time over the years with the elderly (volunteering), and they always are so grateful for every little thing that others do for them. I agree that I wouldn't want to take "a tip" from them... figuring that in the end the experience has enriched my life, way more than the things I've done for them (I always learn so much when spending time with older people). But, I do understand their need to thank... they come from a time that is different, they have a strong work ethic, and are so proud, they don't want to abuse anyone's generosity, think it has a lot to do with the struggles that they've seen in life (The Great Depression, WWII, etc). So I know why you feel bad when you have to turn them down... because they so want to show they can be independent.

The "no tipping" rule that irked me in life, was once I worked at a place where there was a rule that the staff couldn't accept tips... which was a bit strange, but they paid ok, so it wasn't that big a deal when I first started there (or so I thought). What bothered me though that it was a rule just for staff... management didn't seem to have any qualms about accepting "gifts" from their clients... they had no problem enjoying the boxes of chocolates, bottles of wine, and logo-ed items that came thru the door year-round, and taking these items home with them... it was rare that any of this got shared with staff (those of us who basically worked the front-lines and DID all the work). They wondered why they had such a high turn-over of staff in January, LOL... it was because we all saw the greatest volume of stuff that arrived in December during the holidays.

2009 Dec 9
Food&Think - as for tipping to the host/hostess, most restaurants now force their staff to tip out the host/hostess, bar, and kitchen - regardless of how well they helped you throughout the night. On top of that, it is usually quite a lot. So really, a percentage of your tip is already going to the host/hostess, kitchen, and bartender! (And please don't forget that when you are tipping!)

As a server, I always ask how the customers would like the bill - even if it is clearly a couple on a date, or four guys in to watch hockey. I still ask.

I think it is important to ask, because you don't want to waste time splitting and reprinting bills after you've already printed and delivered. Also, it shows you respect the customer and aren't making assumptions!

And I know at our work, we don't have a problem splitting appetizers and pitchers (or whatever else you may want to split!)

Oh - and most server's like split bills - it means you may have a better chance of a better tip :)

2009 Dec 11
Having been a server for many years I can tell you that separate cheques are a only unpleasant if the server is unprepared. Let the server know at the start of the meal that you want separate cheques and they will easily be able to keep a tally for each guest. Granted, if the server is savvy they should always ask if you want separates even if there are only two customers. I left the industry just as those whiz-bang super POS terminals started arriving.They would have made life sooo much easier!

2010 Apr 17
If everyone read my post, I did ASK (at the beginning of our meal) if the split could be done. I didn't walk in with the expectation that it could and would be done. I asked. They said yes and then didn't do it. There were only 2 of us, we were not "several people" as PIO suggests :)

As for group meals, I trust the other person to do the math, but I too have been stiffed many times. Sure it is only money, but if the same person keeps doing it? I guess then we should stop inviting them? LOL.

2010 Apr 19
This is exactly the reason why we chose NOT to book with the Works for a going away party. They wanted a minimum of $350 spent in the boiler room, but were unwilling to split the bill. It's pretty poor taste to have a party for someone and then have to spend 15 minutes figuring out the bill.

They said they wouldn't do it because they wanted the guaranteed $350. They would provide each person with a run down of what they ordered, but no tax. So you're still stuck with the math and the likelihood that you'll get stuck with the difference.

2010 Apr 19
What happened with carrying a little cash when going into this kind of situation? I am the only one at my office of 14 people who has not had their credit or bank card compromised. The simple reason? I carry cash. I likely spend less thanks to that mindset as well.
It makes it easier all around when going out. Why end a nice meal with all that awkward, nasty negotiating if the bill comes together? So much easier when you have cash on hand. A credit card is not a status symbol. It just means you haven't the cash. I too have a small calculator in my purse.

That being said, a good server should ask but I always request separate bills right from the outset.

2010 Apr 20
I have 2 comments on this topic. Quite often when there is a group larger than 10 it can be quite difficult for the server to keep track of the customers because they move around and switch seats. You move to a different seat and then order a drink, your drink may end up on somebody else's bill, and vice versa.

Also, this comment is for Nanook - What is the problem with just getting one bill and everybody throwing in an equal amount to cover the bill and tip? Did your friend really have that much more to eat and drink than you did at a place like the works?? Your bill may have been $22 and his $24, who cares?? Some people are just way too cheap to eat out.

Dining out is supposed to be about having fun. Enjoying good food, good drinks and good company. It's not about penny pinching and nitpicking!!! Have some fun out there people and relax.

2010 Apr 20
I agree with you to a certain extent Mad Mike, but if I go out, not feeling hungry and just get an app, and my mate gets an app, the steak, dessert and a bottle of wine... I really don't feel like paying for his meal.

Barb, the reason I don't carry cash around, is because I'll spend it if it's in my pocket! :)

2010 Apr 20
The problem with splitting it equally is that you will invariably have one person who has had 2 or 3 beer, and someone else who has had none, so it never works out anywhere near equal. Or one person with a big meal and another having a salad.

Yes it is true that people moving around can make it a bit more difficult to get it all right, but trying and getting a couple things wrong is better than not even trying.