Home > Eating Out, Money & Savings > Dining Etiquette: Focus on Dining Deals

Dining Etiquette: Focus on Dining Deals

Are you a tad bit addicted to Groupon, Living Social or the Capitol Deal?  Do you book your Savored reservations weeks in advance?  Being the social butterfly that I am, I often share my dining deals with my friends – even my new ones.  Alas we have a dilemma…how to handle splitting the check when a discount is involved.

Here’s the scenario I snag a great Groupon to my favorite little Thai restaurant.  The deal is $30 of delicious cuisine.  Of course I can’t eat all that myself so I bring a friend along.  Let’s call my friend Mona.  We enjoy our meal and a few glasses of wine.  The check comes and the total is $42.  So how do we handle this? Do we split the balance equally with each of us paying $6 before the tip? Does Mona pay the amount over the $30 coupon – $12 for her?

My practice has been that Mona would handle the overage and the majority of the tip.  As the Groupon owner I have already purchased the deal – effectively choosing the restaurant and graciously sharing the privilege of the discount.   At the end of the night paying the tab should be seamless.  With two diners this informal system is easy to follow and generally no big deal.  In situations with more than a couple diners remember to lay out the parameters with your companions before getting to the end of the meal.  I recommend sending an e-mail to everyone with a few gentle reminders – note any special instructions.  This communication can prevent awkward moments at the end of the evening.  In situations where you’re unable to give advance notice try to discreetly mention the handling of the tab to your companions.  Someone should take on the role of host – it doesn’t have to be the person making the plans.  This is simply to help the restaurant staff  to communicate with the table and provide you with the service you deserve.  It also makes it easier when the check comes and it’s time to settle up.

Use these tips to make your group dining experiences more enjoyable:

  • It’s simpler for everyone if you agree and prepare to split the bill equally.  Communicate via e-mail any specials or deals that will help with costs.
  • If your group is sharing the cost don’t abuse the privilege.  Order in synch with others in your party.  Don’t have three glasses of wine and shots of Hennessy X.O. when everyone else ordered iced tea. Offer up a little extra money if you were the only one to order (and eat) an appetizer.
  • Bring cash – at least for your tip. This makes paying the bill go quickly and reduces the chance of confusion.
  • When using discounts remember to tip more than the usual 15-20%.  Give extra because the server is paid based on tips.  Be generous if they’ve done a good job.

Be considerate and have fun!

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  1. Leslie
    February 3, 2012 at 3:38 am

    Thanks for this timely and thoughtful post! I definitely need to remember to bring cash for at least the tip part and my entire bill if possible. One issue that I have had in the past re splitting the check equally with a medium to large group is the alcohol factor. I don’t drink alcohol and don’t care to pay for alcohol. In fact, I usually drink water. Setting the awkwardness aside, do you think it’s appropriate to tell the group that I’m not going to pay for any alcohol purchased?

    • February 3, 2012 at 11:21 am

      I’d let the host know you don’t drink so that when the bill comes they can anticipate you covering food and not the bar tab. Depending on the restaurant you might want to get your own bill – that way you can do everything on your own. Don’t hesitate to raise these issues beforehand – by either calling the restaurant or consulting with the host of the outing.

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