Handling Restaurant Bills With Cheap Friends

handling restaurant billsDo you have friends, family members or co-workers who you go to restaurants with and end up inâ”let’s say this politelyâ”sticky situations? They may be regular lunch or dinner companions and you may even enjoy their company, but when it comes time to pay the bill there’s always an issue.

Somehow or another it always ends up with you subsidizing their meal. If it becomes a pattern, and it usually does, they’ll not only order dinner, but they’ll begin to throw in appetizers, alcoholic beverages and dessert. Even though you don’t order any of these extras, you still end up paying for part of theirs through one manipulation or another.

âLet’s split the bill down the middleâ

This is probably the most typical outcome. A single check is ordered for the whole table and everyone agrees to split it down the middle. This isn’t a problem if all parties have roughly equal budgetary constraints and buy equivalent orders. But often the friend orders from the high priced end of the menu while you order from the children’s menu in an effort to offset your contribution to their extravagance.

What often complicates splitting down the middle, is that the party who is taking advantage of the arrangement is usually its most vocal supporter and any attempt to disagree has a high chance of resulting in a confrontation. You and others go along in order to avoid any unpleasantnessâ”which is exactly what the manipulator is counting on.

âHere’s ten dollarsâ”we’ll even it out laterâ

This is a more extreme version of splitting the bill down the middle. What it really means it that we’ll split it down the middle later, but later will never come. The freeloader is now taking a bold step forwardâ”he’s no longer maintaining even the pretense of a 50-50 split. He’s moved on to capping his contribution at what ever amount he chooses.

âDarn I don’t have any money (left my wallet at home, etc.)â”I’ll get you next timeâ

This usually happens when the offender is feeling so comfortable with taking advantage of you that he’s pushing the envelope even further. He’s gone beyond having you subsidize his extravagance and away from making even a minimal contribution. He’s now forcing you to pay for his entire meal!

At this point nothing short of bold action will fix the problem.

Ultimate solutions

In my experience, this unbalanced arrangement never gets better on its own. You have to take actionâ”and do it very decisively.

Don’t waste your time confronting them. Here’s the thing, if a person has done this to you repeatedly, they know what they’re doing and it’s intentional. Confronting them in any way is likely to a) offend❠them that you’d make such an accusation, b) be a complete waste of time, or c) end the friendship completely. Nothing will be fixed by bringing the problem to their attention, so forget it.

Insist on separate checks. If you want to keep the friendship, insist on separate checks as soon as the waiter or waitress come to your table. You may need to alert the offending party before arriving at the restaurant so as not to step into an uncomfortable situation. Tell them that funds are tight and you have to keep your bill low, but you don’t want that to affect them. Do what ever you have to but be firm. The first time will be the most difficult but after that the lines will be drawn and it will be much easier going forward.

Never go out drinking with them. If eating with such a person is a drain on your wallet or a burden on your credit card, going out for adult beverages will be even worse. No only will liquor dull everyone’s judgment (including yours) but the offending friend may very well take advantage of the confusion to take even bigger advantage of your apparent generosity.

Find new friends. If the friend, family member or coworker resists all of your efforts to stop paying more than your fair share, it may be time to find new friends. Regrettably, for some people this type of behavior is part of the way they operate in life, and if it is it’ll never improve. Often just by insisting on separate checks, you won’t need to distance yourself from the offending partyâ”they’ll do it for you.  If you frequently shop online you can find some incredible deals from  coupons.answers.com.

Have you ever had friends, family members or coworkers like the ones I’m describing? How did you handle it?

photo by thefoodplace