Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: bopper on August 06, 2010, 03:29:34 PM

Title: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: bopper on August 06, 2010, 03:29:34 PM
An article at Slate:

Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner (http://"http://www.slate.com/id/2262371/")
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: C0mputerGeek on August 06, 2010, 03:42:00 PM
Here is a working link (http://www.slate.com/id/2262371)

I guess I'll just comment on the article in general. I still enjoy attending birthday bashes. Last year, I flew out to DC for a friend's 40th birthday party. His wife organized a surprise party. It was a lovely affair; I hand a grand time. I also attended a 40th Birthday Party Scavenger Hunt. It was a blast. One of the groups cheated scandalously - instead of finding items the went to the library and copied magazines with photos of the items - but even that brought several laughs. I've hosted themed New Year's Eve Party (my birthday is on New Year's Day).

I am not getting the whole, "birthday parties suck," theme in the article. I've even enjoyed birthday dinners.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: DottyG on August 06, 2010, 03:48:16 PM
If this author were my friend, I would save him the trouble.  I wouldn't invite him to begin with - he sounds like a real stick in the mud.

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: peach2play on August 06, 2010, 03:51:47 PM
In my group, should we do a birthday dinner, it's understood that everyone, including the birthday party, pays for their own meal.  Keeps the drinks from getting out of hand.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Lady Snowdon on August 06, 2010, 03:52:58 PM
Next time I invite people out for my birthday, I'll have to keep in mind that it is my job to make sure we have a certain type of server, to make sure everyone I invite is within the same income bracket, and that I only invite people from one area of my life, to avoid awkward feelings.  ::)  If it's so hard for him to enjoy a dinner party, I'll save him the trouble of having to RSVP "no" in the future.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: lolane on August 06, 2010, 03:58:12 PM
I totally understand the authors sentiments and I don't think he's being a stick in the mud. I hate this sort of setup because inevitably someone orders the most expensive meal, or several expensive drinks, or a couple of bottles of wine and expensive appetizers and then the whole group is supposed to split the check evenly! I've been to dinners where the amount of food and drinks I've had would have totaled less than $30 after tax and tip, but I've been asked to chip in upwards of $75 because everyone wants to split the check (at times I have successfully protested, but it's really a terrible position to be in). I hardly think that not wanting to pay more than double the price of what you've actually consumed makes you a stick in the mud.

I've stopped attending this types of parties, because on top of the problems the author describes, there is also the issue of some people not putting in enough money so that others have to pick up the slack. The whole thing is just terrible.

I am of the belief that birthday parties should be paid for by the host. If the host cannot afford to pay for everyone's dinner, then they shouldn't have a birthday party at a restaurant. I also dislike when people say, "in my group of friends it's accepted" because I'm sure my friends think it's accepted too, but I know I don't like it and I know other friends don't either.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: ladycrim on August 06, 2010, 03:58:15 PM
I think the article's author is trying to convey that a combination of being in an uncomfortable situation (surrounded by people he doesn't know, who would rather talk to others than to him) and being stuck with an exorbitant share of the check is no fun.  I can't say I blame him for either of these feelings.

I enjoy attending birthday dinners, but in my circle of friends, they are usually at reasonably-priced restaurants and everyone gets their own check.  I don't recall offhand whether the B-day person and their significant other get paid for or not.

I did go to one restaurant that was very expensive for our group's financial situations, and we got the check sprung on us at the end of the night.  (Thank heavens I only ordered an appetizer.)  I declined future birthday dinners for that person and her boyfriend.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Squeaks on August 06, 2010, 04:03:50 PM
I think it is his own fault for not speaking up.

The cheap skate grad student has the right idea. 

It is also his fault for joining in.  It sounds like he did end up ordering on par with the rest of them, so he has little to complain about. 

I also disagree that breaking it down is too much match.  It really is not.  Keep a running total in your head of what you ordered and be done with it. 

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Hushabye on August 06, 2010, 04:04:03 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: ydpubs on August 06, 2010, 04:06:03 PM
I would also have to agree with the author. I would not be happy at all to get stuck paying more than twice the money for what I actually ordered. I am fortunate that my group of frineds never goes overboard with ordering super expensive stuff and everyone always overpays so we have to redistribute money back to everyone because the waiter would end up getting an 80% tip if we just left all the money. LOL!!!
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Ferrets on August 06, 2010, 04:06:11 PM
I think the article's author is trying to convey that a combination of being in an uncomfortable situation (surrounded by people he doesn't know, who would rather talk to others than to him) and being stuck with an exorbitant share of the check is no fun.  I can't say I blame him for either of these feelings.

Completely agree. I'm absolutely fine with pay-your-own-way restaurant dinners for a birthday, but definitely echo PPs on having separate bills, or only chipping in for what I ordered (plus a contribution to the tip). It might make me look stingy to some, but frankly I've been stiffed once too often by the dreaded merry cry of "Let's divvy it all up equally!" :P

Flat-fee buffet restaurants make things much easier, too. :)
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: WillyNilly on August 06, 2010, 04:07:10 PM
Here is a working link (http://www.slate.com/id/2262371)

I guess I'll just comment on the article in general. I still enjoy attending birthday bashes. Last year, I flew out to DC for a friend's 40th birthday party. His wife organized a surprise party. It was a lovely affair; I hand a grand time. I also attended a 40th Birthday Party Scavenger Hunt. It was a blast. One of the groups cheated scandalously - instead of finding items the went to the library and copied magazines with photos of the items - but even that brought several laughs. I've hosted themed New Year's Eve Party (my birthday is on New Year's Day).

I am not getting the whole, "birthday parties suck," theme in the article. I've even enjoyed birthday dinners.

Apparently you didn't read the article.  The author is all for birthday parties.  its birthday dinners - complete with footing a split bill - he is objecting to.  He flat out says if you invite him out/over for a party he will gladly attend.  

Honestly I'm posting a link to this on my FB page as subtle hint. I completely agree with the author - the "birthday dinner" at the moderately fancy restaurant is way too expensive.  If you are having a party you are hosting, which means you are paying.  And with big groups, especially in places like NYC where often you cannot have more then 2-3 checks per table, as the author mentions often you do get stuck paying for other people's extravagances, and for what?  To be sat next to someone you really don't want to spend that kind of money to dine with.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: lolane on August 06, 2010, 04:11:07 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Lady Snowdon on August 06, 2010, 04:13:34 PM
My issue with the article is that it seems like he blames his friend Simon for everything that happened, from the waiter promoting appetizers on forward.  I would have an issue with most of the things listed as well, but it's not his friend's fault!  Even at the end he says it's the memory of "Simon's party" that allows him to say no.  He's attached all blame for what happened to Simon.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: WillyNilly on August 06, 2010, 04:14:24 PM
I am of the belief that birthday parties should be paid for by the host. If the host cannot afford to pay for everyone's dinner, then they shouldn't have a birthday party at a restaurant. I also dislike when people say, "in my group of friends it's accepted" because I'm sure my friends think it's accepted too, but I know I don't like it and I know other friends don't either.

Me too.  A party is a hosted affair, plain & simple.  The article wasn't about parties, it was about the dreaded "dinner".  Its an accepted practice amongst my friends as well, but quite a few really dislike the tradition and think its obnoxious... And the unfortunate outcome is, for events such as my birthday, I pay/host my celebration... but then for several friend's birthdays I'm expected to pay for myself and chip in for them... so I end up paying twice and they end up getting 2 free meals.

Like the author, I tend to decline such invites unless its my very best friend (who refuses to think its rude to expect guests to pay...)
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: VorFemme on August 06, 2010, 04:18:17 PM
I went to MY birthday party with a group (okay, two of us were having a birthday but that was announced when the event was planned and at the beginning of the party) - I ordered within my means (cash on hand - they didn't take checks and I was running too late to run down the street a mile to the ATM & back).  

The check was split and we were told that we "owed" about a dollar and a half more than I had planned to spend - not much but enough to be embarrassing when I was about 40 cents short (found some loose change in the bottom of my purse).  My neighbor remembered that it was my party, too, and put in the extra change - grinned & told me it was my present.

I've gone out again with that group - but only when I was going to be able to pay for myself as we went into the buffet or I had arranged with the waiter to "secede from the group's check" (I like that turn of phrase from the article).  

I know almost exactly how he felt that night because I felt the same way (got there after the people I knew were already seated at the other end of the table & surrounded) so I took a seat at the end of the table where I knew no one.............I was lucky enough to learn my lesson for about a tenth of the cost, though.  No one ordered expensive wine!
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Squeaks on August 06, 2010, 04:20:26 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


Nothing wrong with that.  At all.   Restaurants are being lazy (or they know they get more money) by not splitting the check.  If it take an extra half hour of debate and holding a table to get it worked out, that is the restaurants problem, not yours. Let them reap the the consequences of their policy.  As far as i am concerned if they wont do it than they are expecting us to do it ourselves, if it takes time it takes time.  

Frankly if more people would just follow through and do this, I suspect many restaurants would rethink the no separate checks idea.  

  



Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Allyson on August 06, 2010, 04:21:25 PM
Luckily my group doesn't seem to operate like this--birthday happenings range between the party, clubbing, or dinner (for my last birthday, my best friend cooked dinner for 6 of us, it was amazing!) At the 'dinner at a restaurant' we always get our own meals, and I've never had an issue with the staff not wanting to let us all pay separately. Maybe it's different in different areas? What if you mention beforehand 'and we'll all be paying for our own food'. That seems to be the norm among my friends/age group (mid twenties). I don't think I've ever seen everyone split the check!
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: lolane on August 06, 2010, 04:23:14 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


Nothing wrong with that.  At all.   Restaurants are being lazy (or they know they get more money) by not splitting the check.  If it take an extra half hour of debate and holding a table to get it worked out, that is the restaurants problem, not yours. Let them reap the the consequences of their policy.  As far as i am concerned if they wont do it than they are expecting us to do it ourselves, if it takes time it takes time.  

Frankly if more people would just follow through and do this, I suspect many restaurants would rethink the no separate checks idea.  

  

While I definitely agree with you on this, and believe me, I've taken as much time as I've needed to get things like this worked out, it's still not how I'd wish to spend my evening. I think the best solution is, for those of us who hate this sort of thing is to try and attend as few of them as possible. For those who don't mind them, have fun!

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: WillyNilly on August 06, 2010, 04:27:49 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


Nothing wrong with that.  At all.   Restaurants are being lazy (or they know they get more money) by not splitting the check.  If it take an extra half hour of debate and holding a table to get it worked out, that is the restaurants problem, not yours. Let them reap the the consequences of their policy.  As far as i am concerned if they wont do it than they are expecting us to do it ourselves, if it takes time it takes time.  

Frankly if more people would just follow through and do this, I suspect many restaurants would rethink the no separate checks idea.  


It might be regional but I think if people started holding up tables for half an hour with a large group trying to nickle & dime a bill plenty of restaurants in my area (NYC) would just stop seating tables of 10 unless they had secured the table with a credit card (as many restaurants already require for large groups).

Its not a restaurant being lazy to have a limit to how many checks a table can have, its called business - extra checks take time, are more work for the staff (timing one check to have all the food at once is less communication to an already harried kitchen staff, whereas making sure the kitchen knows these 5 separate bills all have to be ready at the same time...) plus it means they can't as easily add on the large group gratuity, which means the waiter, who is working extra hard, because yes one table of 10 is more work then 5 tables of 2, might get royally stiffed.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Squeaks on August 06, 2010, 04:28:19 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


Nothing wrong with that.  At all.   Restaurants are being lazy (or they know they get more money) by not splitting the check.  If it take an extra half hour of debate and holding a table to get it worked out, that is the restaurants problem, not yours. Let them reap the the consequences of their policy.  As far as i am concerned if they wont do it than they are expecting us to do it ourselves, if it takes time it takes time.  

Frankly if more people would just follow through and do this, I suspect many restaurants would rethink the no separate checks idea.  


While I definitely agree with you on this, and believe me, I've taken as much time as I've needed to get things like this worked out, it's still not how I'd wish to spend my evening. I think the best solution is, for those of us who hate this sort of thing is to try and attend as few of them as possible. For those who don't mind them, have fun!


Guess I am just more stubborn and patient I guess.


I did have another idea as to how to possibly convince them to do separate checks.   Say "Ohh well in that case ill just not order,  if i get thirsty i'll go to the bar and pay directly there for a drink"  Seeing their tip not only evaporate but go to someone else, might cause people to pause.  

And again, I'm stubborn, I would have no issue with this.  Nor do I find it rude.


Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: immadz on August 06, 2010, 04:31:34 PM
One answer for this. Use the billmonk service to share the bill after one person pays. I think dutch parties are the norm in my group and as long as you knew before hand what was going on, you can always decline the invite rather than have a miserable time.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Squeaks on August 06, 2010, 04:35:03 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


Nothing wrong with that.  At all.   Restaurants are being lazy (or they know they get more money) by not splitting the check.  If it take an extra half hour of debate and holding a table to get it worked out, that is the restaurants problem, not yours. Let them reap the the consequences of their policy.  As far as i am concerned if they wont do it than they are expecting us to do it ourselves, if it takes time it takes time.  

Frankly if more people would just follow through and do this, I suspect many restaurants would rethink the no separate checks idea.  


It might be regional but I think if people started holding up tables for half an hour with a large group trying to nickle & dime a bill plenty of restaurants in my area (NYC) would just stop seating tables of 10 unless they had secured the table with a credit card (as many restaurants already require for large groups).

Its not a restaurant being lazy to have a limit to how many checks a table can have, its called business - extra checks take time, are more work for the staff (timing one check to have all the food at once is less communication to an already harried kitchen staff, whereas making sure the kitchen knows these 5 separate bills all have to be ready at the same time...) plus it means they can't as easily add on the large group gratuity, which means the waiter, who is working extra hard, because yes one table of 10 is more work then 5 tables of 2, might get royally stiffed.

Getting a credit card up front might go a long way to people not doing this in the first place, but it can still lead to debates of who owes what.    

And to be honest your reason for them doing it this way is actually in deed laziness. . . i.e. trying to do less work.  It may be more work to co-ordinate, but it still can be done, I also don't see why they can't still add on the tip on separate bills.    Do I want the waitress to get stiffed?  No, not at all,  but if some cheep skate does not pony up and i get stiffed because the restaurant will not do separate checks, im sure not going to tip more than a penny more than the mandatory cuz i am already paying too much.  Had i had my own check, i would have been far more generous.




 
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: WillyNilly on August 06, 2010, 04:40:30 PM
Quote

Guess I am just more stubborn and patient I guess.


I did have another idea as to how to possibly convince them to do separate checks.   Say "Ohh well in that case ill just not order,  if i get thirsty i'll go to the bar and pay directly there for a drink"  Seeing their tip not only evaporate but go to someone else, might cause people to pause.  

And again, I'm stubborn, I would have no issue with this.  Nor do I find it rude.


Again might be regional but in NYC many places will charge you for just sitting at the table.  Lots of restaurants have discreet signs or notes on their menus saying that even if you don't order if you are sitting there, there will be a plate charge.  Many have plate sharing fees too.

This is their business and every seat is their real estate that should be making them money.  Its not a public atrium - if you want to sit you are welcome to find an atrium, there are lots throughout the city, but in a restaurant you are expected to buy something... or barring that, at least pay something.

So you could sit there and only order drinks, or even only order an appetizer, but if you are sitting at their table, especially if its busy night, you will get a check even if you order nothing (and in reality the person who orders nothing probably eats the table bread, and partakes in having their water glass filled numerous times, and the flatware and glass and napkin still need to be cleared and cleaned, etc, so its not like "oh its free for me to sit here!" because its not, its costing the them the seat which could go to a paying customer, an its costing them in they are still serving you and providing for you).
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: C0mputerGeek on August 06, 2010, 04:42:11 PM
Getting a credit card up front might go a long way to people not doing this in the first place, but it can still lead to debates of who owes what.    

And to be honest your reason for them doing it this way is actually in deed laziness. . . i.e. trying to do less work.  It may be more work to co-ordinate, but it still can be done, I also don't see why they can't still add on the tip on separate bills.    Do I want the waitress to get stiffed?  No, not at all,  but if some cheep skate does not pony up and i get stiffed because the restaurant will not do separate checks, im sure not going to tip more than a penny more than the mandatory cuz i am already paying too much.  Had i had my own check, i would have been far more generous.

I've always assumed it was a limit of whatever software the restaurant used to manage the checks. I've eaten at places that would not split the bill. I've also eaten at places that would not provide more than 4 separate bills for the table.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: MadMadge43 on August 06, 2010, 04:44:44 PM
I am so glad I am past the birthday DINNER phase. We are now mostly grown up and have our own houses and actually host our own parties.

But during this phase I was mad after every single one I went too. Me and two other friends got stuck with an additional $480 tab we had to split. The birthday girls work friends came, ordered and each threw in a $20 to the pot. But they had each ordered $60 worth of food once it was all tallied.

And for the love of all that is holy, why does no one ever remember to add the tax to their total??? $50 check plus $10 for tip is NOT enough, you need to add another 10% for the tax.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: WillyNilly on August 06, 2010, 04:47:47 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


Nothing wrong with that.  At all.   Restaurants are being lazy (or they know they get more money) by not splitting the check.  If it take an extra half hour of debate and holding a table to get it worked out, that is the restaurants problem, not yours. Let them reap the the consequences of their policy.  As far as i am concerned if they wont do it than they are expecting us to do it ourselves, if it takes time it takes time.  

Frankly if more people would just follow through and do this, I suspect many restaurants would rethink the no separate checks idea.  


It might be regional but I think if people started holding up tables for half an hour with a large group trying to nickle & dime a bill plenty of restaurants in my area (NYC) would just stop seating tables of 10 unless they had secured the table with a credit card (as many restaurants already require for large groups).

Its not a restaurant being lazy to have a limit to how many checks a table can have, its called business - extra checks take time, are more work for the staff (timing one check to have all the food at once is less communication to an already harried kitchen staff, whereas making sure the kitchen knows these 5 separate bills all have to be ready at the same time...) plus it means they can't as easily add on the large group gratuity, which means the waiter, who is working extra hard, because yes one table of 10 is more work then 5 tables of 2, might get royally stiffed.

Getting a credit card up front might go a long way to people not doing this in the first place, but it can still lead to debates of who owes what.    

And to be honest your reason for them doing it this way is actually in deed laziness. . . i.e. trying to do less work.  It may be more work to co-ordinate, but it still can be done, I also don't see why they can't still add on the tip on separate bills.    Do I want the waitress to get stiffed?  No, not at all,  but if some cheep skate does not pony up and i get stiffed because the restaurant will not do separate checks, im sure not going to tip more than a penny more than the mandatory cuz i am already paying too much.  Had i had my own check, i would have been far more generous.
 

I guess we have a different definition of "lazy".  I think not wanting to do your job is lazy.  But I think not wanting to a whole lot extra work for no more compensation to not be lazy, but rather quite reasonable.  Splitting checks and getting the kitchen staff on board with that, is not a default part of a waiter's job, its an above & beyond.  Its nice if they do, but one table is one table, is still just one table and expecting it to be one check is not unreasonable of the person waiting on you.

Now I have been to many restaurants who are happy to give multiple checks... for a fee.  Which is to say 1 check, is just the check and maybe a gratuity.  But if you want multiple checks you need to pay a split check fee (I've seen this range for $2.50 per check to $10 per check).  So thats a possible consequence too - too many large parties holding up splitting a check will end up just creating a situation where everyone gets a separate check and has to pay extra anyway.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: MadMadge43 on August 06, 2010, 04:48:54 PM
Quote
And to be honest your reason for them doing it this way is actually in deed laziness. . . i.e. trying to do less work.  It may be more work to co-ordinate, but it still can be done, I also don't see why they can't still add on the tip on separate bills.    Do I want the waitress to get stiffed?  No, not at all,  but if some cheep skate does not pony up and i get stiffed because the restaurant will not do separate checks, im sure not going to tip more than a penny more than the mandatory cuz i am already paying too much.  Had i had my own check, i would have been far more generous.

It's not laziness, believe me, there is nothing lazy about waiting on 12 half drunk 30 year old that are all trying look posh and don't really know how to do it.

The problem comes with the ordering. Trying to keep track while 12 people are all randomly ordering, or people ordering for other people causes a mess. And then trying to figure out mistakes, "I didn't order the salad, she did- well, yeah I ordered it, but it was for her. Oh she already paid and left? well too bad I'm not paying for it." Happens way more than you'd ever think.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: MadMadge43 on August 06, 2010, 04:51:45 PM
Oh and by the time you enter the first order and by the time you've entered the 12th, the first order is already up and then you get complaints that the food is cold or you served at different times. And if there are multiple registers other waiters are entering food in the kitchen and their tables will be prepared between your orders really throwing of the timing.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Squeaks on August 06, 2010, 04:57:19 PM
Quote

Guess I am just more stubborn and patient I guess.


I did have another idea as to how to possibly convince them to do separate checks.   Say "Ohh well in that case ill just not order,  if i get thirsty i'll go to the bar and pay directly there for a drink"  Seeing their tip not only evaporate but go to someone else, might cause people to pause.  

And again, I'm stubborn, I would have no issue with this.  Nor do I find it rude.


Again might be regional but in NYC many places will charge you for just sitting at the table.  Lots of restaurants have discreet signs or notes on their menus saying that even if you don't order if you are sitting there, there will be a plate charge.  Many have plate sharing fees too.

This is their business and every seat is their real estate that should be making them money.  Its not a public atrium - if you want to sit you are welcome to find an atrium, there are lots throughout the city, but in a restaurant you are expected to buy something... or barring that, at least pay something.

So you could sit there and only order drinks, or even only order an appetizer, but if you are sitting at their table, especially if its busy night, you will get a check even if you order nothing (and in reality the person who orders nothing probably eats the table bread, and partakes in having their water glass filled numerous times, and the flatware and glass and napkin still need to be cleared and cleaned, etc, so its not like "oh its free for me to sit here!" because its not, its costing the them the seat which could go to a paying customer, an its costing them in they are still serving you and providing for you).

Depending on the plate charge there is a good change id just ask "so can i get that on a separate check?"  And yes, there is a good chance i would pay it.  Also, i did mention going to the bar to buy drinks directly, hence they are getting money from me and i am indeed a paying customer.  No i would not eat the bread in this circumstance it would not feel right.  I promise you I am not all evil.  

Also, the seat could not go to a paying customer if it is already at that table.  If they give me crap about a plate charge ill happily leave if that is really what they want.  It is not like they are going to fill the seat at a group table.  In fact id likely push for the entire group to leave then they really have lost money.  I just would not feel comfortable in many cases with the joint check. If that means walking out, I walk out.  If they really want to say "we won't let you pay but you have to leave if you will not order" I'll leave.  I am not going to be bullied, and i just don't see having an empty chair at a table being good for them.  

Or, they can just split the check make money and keep a customer happy.   This is not a case of not wanting to buy something, it is a case of wanting to pay for only my order on my credit card.  If it is really too much work to accommodate that ill grab something on the way home and the caveman's "I don't have much of an appetite thank you" line.  Heck id likely toss out the line "If i agree to an automatic tip of (higher than the group charge) will you give me a separate check?"  Not not to be snarky, but to acknowledge that it is additional work, and work I am actually willing to pay for.  

Another thing i might try is to see if they would waive the sit fee if i purchased a gift certificate on my own card of a greater value. Which would seem fair and reasonable to them.  Then they are guaranteed at least the cost of the plate fee and may end up with more as we all know people tend to spend more than is on a gift certificate.  
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Squeaks on August 06, 2010, 04:58:31 PM
Getting a credit card up front might go a long way to people not doing this in the first place, but it can still lead to debates of who owes what.    

And to be honest your reason for them doing it this way is actually in deed laziness. . . i.e. trying to do less work.  It may be more work to co-ordinate, but it still can be done, I also don't see why they can't still add on the tip on separate bills.    Do I want the waitress to get stiffed?  No, not at all,  but if some cheep skate does not pony up and i get stiffed because the restaurant will not do separate checks, im sure not going to tip more than a penny more than the mandatory cuz i am already paying too much.  Had i had my own check, i would have been far more generous.

I've always assumed it was a limit of whatever software the restaurant used to manage the checks. I've eaten at places that would not split the bill. I've also eaten at places that would not provide more than 4 separate bills for the table.

If they can do separate checks for each table in the restaurant they can do separate checks.  That sounds like a convenient excuse.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: WillyNilly on August 06, 2010, 05:01:30 PM
Quote

Guess I am just more stubborn and patient I guess.


I did have another idea as to how to possibly convince them to do separate checks.   Say "Ohh well in that case ill just not order,  if i get thirsty i'll go to the bar and pay directly there for a drink"  Seeing their tip not only evaporate but go to someone else, might cause people to pause.  

And again, I'm stubborn, I would have no issue with this.  Nor do I find it rude.


Again might be regional but in NYC many places will charge you for just sitting at the table.  Lots of restaurants have discreet signs or notes on their menus saying that even if you don't order if you are sitting there, there will be a plate charge.  Many have plate sharing fees too.

This is their business and every seat is their real estate that should be making them money.  Its not a public atrium - if you want to sit you are welcome to find an atrium, there are lots throughout the city, but in a restaurant you are expected to buy something... or barring that, at least pay something.

So you could sit there and only order drinks, or even only order an appetizer, but if you are sitting at their table, especially if its busy night, you will get a check even if you order nothing (and in reality the person who orders nothing probably eats the table bread, and partakes in having their water glass filled numerous times, and the flatware and glass and napkin still need to be cleared and cleaned, etc, so its not like "oh its free for me to sit here!" because its not, its costing the them the seat which could go to a paying customer, an its costing them in they are still serving you and providing for you).

Depending on the plate charge there is a good change id just ask "so can i get that on a separate check?"  And yes, there is a good chance i would pay it.  Also, i did mention going to the bar to buy drinks directly, hence they are getting money from me and i am indeed a paying customer.  No i would not eat the bread in this circumstance it would not feel right.  I promise you I am not all evil.  

Also, the seat could not go to a paying customer if it is already at that table.  If they give me crap about a plate charge ill happily leave if that is really what they want.  It is not like they are going to fill the seat at a group table.  In fact id likely push for the entire group to leave then they really have lost money.  I just would not feel comfortable in many cases with the joint check. If that means walking out, I walk out.  If they really want to say "we won't let you pay but you have to leave if you will not order" I'll leave.  I am not going to be bullied, and i just don't see having an empty chair at a table being good for them.  

Or, they can just split the check make money and keep a customer happy.   This is not a case of not wanting to buy something, it is a case of wanting to pay for only my order on my credit card.  If it is really too much work to accommodate that ill grab something on the way home and the caveman's "I don't have much of an appetite thank you" line.  Heck id likely toss out the line "If i agree to an automatic tip of (higher than the group charge) will you give me a separate check?"  Not not to be snarky, but to acknowledge that it is additional work, and work I am actually willing to pay for.  

Another thing i might try is to see if they would waive the sit fee if i purchased a gift certificate on my own card of a greater value. Which would seem fair and reasonable to them.  Then they are guaranteed at least the cost of the plate fee and may end up with more as we all know people tend to spend more than is on a gift certificate.  

IDK - seems to me if you are going to these lengths... you should just do as the author, and myself and others do, and just avoid these types of get togethers (or ony stick to places you know for a fact will gladly split your check).  Your proposed senarios are exhausting me just reading them. :)
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Squeaks on August 06, 2010, 05:06:05 PM
Quote

Guess I am just more stubborn and patient I guess.


I did have another idea as to how to possibly convince them to do separate checks.   Say "Ohh well in that case ill just not order,  if i get thirsty i'll go to the bar and pay directly there for a drink"  Seeing their tip not only evaporate but go to someone else, might cause people to pause.  

And again, I'm stubborn, I would have no issue with this.  Nor do I find it rude.


Again might be regional but in NYC many places will charge you for just sitting at the table.  Lots of restaurants have discreet signs or notes on their menus saying that even if you don't order if you are sitting there, there will be a plate charge.  Many have plate sharing fees too.

This is their business and every seat is their real estate that should be making them money.  Its not a public atrium - if you want to sit you are welcome to find an atrium, there are lots throughout the city, but in a restaurant you are expected to buy something... or barring that, at least pay something.

So you could sit there and only order drinks, or even only order an appetizer, but if you are sitting at their table, especially if its busy night, you will get a check even if you order nothing (and in reality the person who orders nothing probably eats the table bread, and partakes in having their water glass filled numerous times, and the flatware and glass and napkin still need to be cleared and cleaned, etc, so its not like "oh its free for me to sit here!" because its not, its costing the them the seat which could go to a paying customer, an its costing them in they are still serving you and providing for you).

Depending on the plate charge there is a good change id just ask "so can i get that on a separate check?"  And yes, there is a good chance i would pay it.  Also, i did mention going to the bar to buy drinks directly, hence they are getting money from me and i am indeed a paying customer.  No i would not eat the bread in this circumstance it would not feel right.  I promise you I am not all evil.  

Also, the seat could not go to a paying customer if it is already at that table.  If they give me crap about a plate charge ill happily leave if that is really what they want.  It is not like they are going to fill the seat at a group table.  In fact id likely push for the entire group to leave then they really have lost money.  I just would not feel comfortable in many cases with the joint check. If that means walking out, I walk out.  If they really want to say "we won't let you pay but you have to leave if you will not order" I'll leave.  I am not going to be bullied, and i just don't see having an empty chair at a table being good for them.  

Or, they can just split the check make money and keep a customer happy.   This is not a case of not wanting to buy something, it is a case of wanting to pay for only my order on my credit card.  If it is really too much work to accommodate that ill grab something on the way home and the caveman's "I don't have much of an appetite thank you" line.  Heck id likely toss out the line "If i agree to an automatic tip of (higher than the group charge) will you give me a separate check?"  Not not to be snarky, but to acknowledge that it is additional work, and work I am actually willing to pay for.  

Another thing i might try is to see if they would waive the sit fee if i purchased a gift certificate on my own card of a greater value. Which would seem fair and reasonable to them.  Then they are guaranteed at least the cost of the plate fee and may end up with more as we all know people tend to spend more than is on a gift certificate.  

IDK - seems to me if you are going to these lengths... you should just do as the author, and myself and others do, and just avoid these types of get togethers (or ony stick to places you know for a fact will gladly split your check).  Your proposed senarios are exhausting me just reading them. :)


If you are not the organizer it can be hard to know if they will or wont.  I suspect it may also be a case by case basis as well at times.
And it really is not that big a deal for me, it seems easy and obvious. 

For the record I would be ok with a small (I belie you mentioned $2.50) fee for a separate check $20.00 and i would walk.  I do think it is part of the restaurant's job to  ..  . well do what i have talked about, but that may be just a difference of opinion.  I also would be ok with food coming out at different times.

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Surianne on August 06, 2010, 05:25:46 PM
I'm 100% with you on this one, Speaks.  I won't eat at a restaurant that won't do separate cheques, unless it's with friends who I trust and we agree in advance to each pay our own way.  If the restaurant thinks it's too much trouble and won't let me order water or order at the bar, that's fine--they clearly don't want my business.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Hmmmmm on August 06, 2010, 05:29:50 PM
I'm also one of those that was glad when the birthday dinner fell out of favor with our friends.  Often, you'd end up in a mixed crowd sitting with people you didn't know well and stuck supplementing other peoples drinks or expensive taste in wine.  After abou 5 or 6 of them, I quit going unless it was a small group of 4 or 5 people.  

On the split check, I would never ask a waiter to split the check for a group of 12 or more ordering multiple courses over many hours.  Just think of the logistics.  Normally, a waiter has a computer system that he pulls up a table number and places orders for them.  If he has 8 tables he's working, having 12 separate checks just increased his complexity by more than 100%.  So let's say, he's name your table table number 2.  He now has ticketing for 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i, 2j, 2k, & 2l.  You each order your first round of drinks, so he now brings up 12 separate tickets and enters them in.  5 of you decide to order apps.  He now has to remember which of you is 2a, 2d, 2e, 2i, & 2j... and just hope two of you haven't asked him to split the cost between two of you because your going to share.  Another round of drinks are ordered by 6 and again he's submitting 6 separate orders and trying to remember who is who.  You then get to the entree round and another 12 orders to place and againing remembering who is who.  More drinks, some desserts, coffee ordered and maybe another round of night caps.  I'm exhausted just thinking of the logistics of trying to keep up with these hungry and thirsty 12 individuals and their separate requests.

Also, in my experience, I think more people would be bothered by food arriving at different times than not.  I've always been trained to wait until everyone gets served before starting my meal, especially the entree course.  
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Coruscation on August 06, 2010, 05:43:08 PM
I'm surprised that NY restaurants can't split checks. I live in a tiny town and although we order as a group, we just list what we ordered and the server rings it up on the cash register/calculator. Drinks are paid for as you go, so just food. Maybe they should ditch the fancy software.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Master_Edward on August 06, 2010, 06:09:13 PM
Oh for crying out loud if it's that bad and he hates these things so much then don't go! I'm sure no one put a gun to his head and forced him to go to this dinner. He sounds like a whiner. If you're invited and you don't want to go say no and be done with it.

Ed.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Brentwood on August 06, 2010, 06:25:51 PM

I am not getting the whole, "birthday parties suck," theme in the article. I've even enjoyed birthday dinners.

I didn't get a "birthday parties suck" vibe from the writer. I got an "I hate subsidizing other people's restaurant excesses" vibe from him. And I can't blame him much - if I can be allowed to pay just for what I ordered and a portion of the birthday person's meal, fine. If I have to fork over more than I can afford so that other people can order shrimp, lobster, and bubbly, then no. I'm not particularly interested.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Suze on August 06, 2010, 06:33:28 PM
really - I can relate

I am not a "big eater" (most times an appitizer could be my meal)

I have been with friends to pizza places - I am one - they are a family of 4

it took awhile to get the nerve to say no I wll not go halves on the dinner but here is part of it.

most times I will order just for myself.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: merryns on August 06, 2010, 06:56:50 PM
I'm also one of those that was glad when the birthday dinner fell out of favor with our friends.  Often, you'd end up in a mixed crowd sitting with people you didn't know well and stuck supplementing other peoples drinks or expensive taste in wine.  After abou 5 or 6 of them, I quit going unless it was a small group of 4 or 5 people.  

On the split check, I would never ask a waiter to split the check for a group of 12 or more ordering multiple courses over many hours.  Just think of the logistics.  Normally, a waiter has a computer system that he pulls up a table number and places orders for them.  If he has 8 tables he's working, having 12 separate checks just increased his complexity by more than 100%.  So let's say, he's name your table table number 2.  He now has ticketing for 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i, 2j, 2k, & 2l.  You each order your first round of drinks, so he now brings up 12 separate tickets and enters them in.  5 of you decide to order apps.  He now has to remember which of you is 2a, 2d, 2e, 2i, & 2j... and just hope two of you haven't asked him to split the cost between two of you because your going to share.  Another round of drinks are ordered by 6 and again he's submitting 6 separate orders and trying to remember who is who.  You then get to the entree round and another 12 orders to place and againing remembering who is who.  More drinks, some desserts, coffee ordered and maybe another round of night caps.  I'm exhausted just thinking of the logistics of trying to keep up with these hungry and thirsty 12 individuals and their separate requests.

Also, in my experience, I think more people would be bothered by food arriving at different times than not.  I've always been trained to wait until everyone gets served before starting my meal, especially the entree course.  

And someone orders a bottle of wine 'for the table' with the understanding that a subset of the other people are contributing to the cost, and people move around to different seats, and 2e want to buy a cocktail for 2f, and 2c didn't like their dessert and gave it to 2g.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: penelope2017 on August 06, 2010, 07:28:00 PM
Quote

Guess I am just more stubborn and patient I guess.


I did have another idea as to how to possibly convince them to do separate checks.   Say "Ohh well in that case ill just not order,  if i get thirsty i'll go to the bar and pay directly there for a drink"  Seeing their tip not only evaporate but go to someone else, might cause people to pause.  

And again, I'm stubborn, I would have no issue with this.  Nor do I find it rude.


Again might be regional but in NYC many places will charge you for just sitting at the table.  Lots of restaurants have discreet signs or notes on their menus saying that even if you don't order if you are sitting there, there will be a plate charge.  Many have plate sharing fees too.

This is their business and every seat is their real estate that should be making them money.  Its not a public atrium - if you want to sit you are welcome to find an atrium, there are lots throughout the city, but in a restaurant you are expected to buy something... or barring that, at least pay something.

So you could sit there and only order drinks, or even only order an appetizer, but if you are sitting at their table, especially if its busy night, you will get a check even if you order nothing (and in reality the person who orders nothing probably eats the table bread, and partakes in having their water glass filled numerous times, and the flatware and glass and napkin still need to be cleared and cleaned, etc, so its not like "oh its free for me to sit here!" because its not, its costing the them the seat which could go to a paying customer, an its costing them in they are still serving you and providing for you).

Depending on the plate charge there is a good change id just ask "so can i get that on a separate check?"  And yes, there is a good chance i would pay it.  Also, i did mention going to the bar to buy drinks directly, hence they are getting money from me and i am indeed a paying customer.  No i would not eat the bread in this circumstance it would not feel right.  I promise you I am not all evil.  

Also, the seat could not go to a paying customer if it is already at that table.  If they give me crap about a plate charge ill happily leave if that is really what they want.  It is not like they are going to fill the seat at a group table.  In fact id likely push for the entire group to leave then they really have lost money.  I just would not feel comfortable in many cases with the joint check. If that means walking out, I walk out.  If they really want to say "we won't let you pay but you have to leave if you will not order" I'll leave.  I am not going to be bullied, and i just don't see having an empty chair at a table being good for them.  

Or, they can just split the check make money and keep a customer happy.   This is not a case of not wanting to buy something, it is a case of wanting to pay for only my order on my credit card.  If it is really too much work to accommodate that ill grab something on the way home and the caveman's "I don't have much of an appetite thank you" line.  Heck id likely toss out the line "If i agree to an automatic tip of (higher than the group charge) will you give me a separate check?"  Not not to be snarky, but to acknowledge that it is additional work, and work I am actually willing to pay for.  

Another thing i might try is to see if they would waive the sit fee if i purchased a gift certificate on my own card of a greater value. Which would seem fair and reasonable to them.  Then they are guaranteed at least the cost of the plate fee and may end up with more as we all know people tend to spend more than is on a gift certificate.  

IDK - seems to me if you are going to these lengths... you should just do as the author, and myself and others do, and just avoid these types of get togethers (or ony stick to places you know for a fact will gladly split your check).  Your proposed senarios are exhausting me just reading them. :)


Holy cow. I can't possibly agree more Willy Nilly. I stress out splitting the check if we are out with one other couple, forget the above scenario. I personally find splitting the check to be beyond stressful to everyone involved. I prefer small parties and taking turns.

The above to me sounds so complicated that I don't know what benefit is acheived in terms of enjoyment or relaxation in going out to dinner.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: TylerBelle on August 06, 2010, 07:41:25 PM
Perhaps I'm somewhat naive with wondering this, but don't the host(s), or the guest of honor, or which ever one announces the bill splitting, notice the difference in the diners' ordering? I wish they would and be mindful of it. This of course would be easier with the smaller parties, though I don't think it'd be difficult to take note of the person who had the broiled chicken dinner with an iced tea and the other who had a couple of apps, prime rib and have knocked back several glasses of wine.

It could be all they've seen is everyone's had a meal period and so it should all be split evenly in the end, or actually did notice the meal differences, but don't care, everyone's still going to pay the same amount at the end regardless of what was had.

It's just a heartbreaking scenario of someone who has carefully budgeted enough for their meal, tax, tip, to spend a nice night out with a group only to be expected to throw in two / three times that amount to support others' indulgences.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Venus193 on August 06, 2010, 07:56:08 PM
I'm going to one of these next weekend.  Fortunately, this is with a familiar group and Sean will be paying for his two boys.  We typically go to the same restaurant and most of us order seafood (the place's specialty).
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Ferrets on August 06, 2010, 07:56:55 PM
It's just a heartbreaking scenario of someone who has carefully budgeted enough for their meal, tax, tip, to spend a nice night out with a group only to be expected to throw in two / three times that amount to support others' indulgences.

I've had to get up from the table and run outside the restaurant to find a cashpoint before, for precisely that reason. :-\

(Before someone points out that I should have been prepared...the first couple of times, I'd been under the impression [had made an assumption :P] that we'd be paying our own way, and nothing more; the next couple, that my expected contribution wouldn't be quite so much more than the cost of my meal plus tip.)
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: kareng57 on August 06, 2010, 08:52:46 PM
I sure wouldn't have been thrilled at suddenly being expected to kick in for the Girlfriend's portion as well as Friend's.  Is it somehow her birthday, too?  Sure, it's easy to say that the columnist should have spoken up, but who wants to be the Grinch saying "uh, why do we need to pay for her dinner, too?"

While I've never worked at a restaurant (the dining-public should be thankful, I'm sure I'd have been a disaster) I can understand the reluctance re separate checks for large groups.  Time really is money - though of course that time can be cancelled-out  if one person spends a half-hour figuring out what each individual dining-party owes.  And even with the designated service-charge, the wait-person likely loses overall.  Five tables of two would have turned-over much more than one table of 10 during the evening.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: TootsNYC on August 06, 2010, 09:19:24 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.


I'm guessing that what the "cheapskate" did was to slip the waiter an extra $5 and promise an 18% tip in exchange to quietly, privately, breaking the rules. It would still be cheaper.

And I agree w/ Kareng57 about the girlfriend's--I'd have accepted thinking I'd be paying for my dinner and a portion of the b'day boy's--but I wouldn't be happy to find out that I have to pay for her, AND she isn't helping w/ the b'day boy's.

I will say that in any of my circles, there's a very serious effort made to be sure no one gets charged for more than they want to pay for. I'm very grateful.

I also think people who are about to get stuck w/ a bill they don't deserve should speak up, and quite loudly. "Wait--I didn't order all the expensive wine, and appetizers, and I didn't eat them. I ordered a sandwich, and dessert, then there's tip and tax, and my share if $35. Here it is." Plonk--onto the table go your bills.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Miss Understood on August 06, 2010, 10:42:56 PM
I have been on both sides of this conundrum, as a starving student asked to put in an “equal share” when the rest of my co-workers were full-time employees and some had ordered several courses and wine while I had a side salad and water, and as a waitress who could not accommodate 12 checks per table (Pame encapsulated the difficulties with that perfectly – I don’t need to reinvent the wheel there – I will only add that my restaurant had a definite policy against separate checks, and any items that might need to moved from one check to another required manager approval, which then required severe manager disapproval regarding why the server was allowing separate checks in the first place).

This is really an etiquette problem, not a business problem – the restaurant isn’t wrong for not allowing separate checks for large parties (again, see Pame’s response, so spot on, I’ve been there).  The etiquette problem is that people are expecting others to pay their way, and that can (and should) be called out.  When this problem was occurring in my life, I was too young and non-assertive to call attention to it.  In DH’s and my social circle now, it would never come up, because we just trade paying with other couples and we do not associate with people who would take advantage of us like that.  I think in the end, that’s the solution to the problem – if you have friends who view you as their personal piggy bank, they aren’t really your friends at all and you should cut them out.  The “friends” I had who took financial advantage of me when I was young and non-assertive are not in my life any more.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: shhh its me on August 07, 2010, 01:24:22 AM

I am not getting the whole, "birthday parties suck," theme in the article. I've even enjoyed birthday dinners.

I didn't get a "birthday parties suck" vibe from the writer. I got an "I hate subsidizing other people's restaurant excesses" vibe from him. And I can't blame him much - if I can be allowed to pay just for what I ordered and a portion of the birthday person's meal, fine. If I have to fork over more than I can afford so that other people can order shrimp, lobster, and bubbly, then no. I'm not particularly interested.

I actually got more of a "I hate dinner parties AT RESTAURANTS for large groups ESPECIALLY when your connection to many of  group is an honoree"
............Responding to thread in general now..............

He talked  a great deal about splitting the bill but that can happen at any "Let's split the check" function. The other side  of the expense issue is just as valid if I have to pay for my dinner do I actually have to order chicken salad because that's all you can afford , when we could afford $150 dinner I would much rather have split the check too, I had no desire to stick you with the bill but I also don't want to pay for something I don't want either. BTW I would of solved it by being aware of what my total was and if the split came to less I would have said " oh, I got that $50 bottle of wine heres $50 now lets split the rest" or whatever ran my portion up.  The other point was just as valid if not more so, 10-12 people in a fancyish restaurant half of your guests most likely won't be able to speak to you most of the night. Dinner parties include more then dinner , mingling & cocktail before mingling and dessert after. I don't think wanting to spend time some with the BDay boy is a whinny idea.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Jolie_kitten on August 07, 2010, 01:42:40 AM
In my group, should we do a birthday dinner, it's understood that everyone, including the birthday party, pays for their own meal.  Keeps the drinks from getting out of hand.

In my group (and pretty much in my culture) it is the person hosting the birthday party that pays for everyone; and also it is pretty much the norm to host your own birthday parties.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: LifeOnPluto on August 07, 2010, 04:43:11 AM
My thoughts:

1) If I read the article correctly, the total cost per guest was $168?! (not for the entire table). To me, that is an extremely high amount (and I say this as a lawyer earning a comfortable salary.) I think that "Simon" was rather rude in choosing such an expensive restaurant when he knew that some of his friends were grad students and probably could not afford such a place.

I realise the counter argument is "But those poor grad students had the ability to decline the invitation!" To that I say "But perhaps those grad students intended to order the cheapest meals on the menu, to save money." Which brings me to my second point.

2) I think in cases where there is a big difference in what people are ordering, the group should not split the bill equally. The author would have been fine in saying "Guys, I had a coke and the pasta. My share is $25 including tax and tip, plus a bit extra for Simon's meal - here's $35." If people protested at that statement, THEY are the rude ones.

3) I don't think the guests should have had to pay for Simon's girlfriend. I think the person who suggested that was quite rude, as they did not check with the other guests to see if that was ok. I also think the girlfriend should not have accepted this offer.

4) It was not Simon's fault the table was too big. I feel for the author, being stuck in an uncomfortable position. The guests on either side of him might have been rude (for not talking to the author) but I on't think this one was Simon's fault.

5) In general, I think it's rude for GoH to expect guests to pay their own way, chip in for their meal, AND expect a gift. So I hope Simon did not expect presents, and I don't think the author (or the other guests) were obliged to get him one.

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Sirius on August 07, 2010, 12:43:35 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.

I've actually tried this more than once and have been told (more than once) that the restaurant would not split the checks that many times. They'd be happy to do it if people were asking to split checks 2 ways, but not 10 ways.

So, the inability to split the check sometimes leads to trying to split the check yourself which inevitably leads to disputes as one person with a cell phone calculator tries to figure out who ordered the 3 long island iced teas.




I think this situation is one of the unseen consequences of the computer age.  Back when I was a waitress we had to write our own tickets, so if a table of people all wanted separate checks it wasn't that big of a deal to flip to the next ticket and keep writing.  Nowadays, if a check needs to be split we have Mr. Sirius calculate it.  He can do math in his head faster than most people can with a calculator, and he can also calculate tip percentages (and sales tax, and shipping and handling, and etc...)  He's also scrupulously honest.  It's fascinating to watch him; you can almost hear his brain clicking away.

However, I do have to comment on one particular part of the article:  Being stuck between two groups where I don't know anyone, and no one is talking to me.  I've been there, and that can turn an otherwise nice party into a terribly boring evening.  I went to a wedding once when I was single and  unaccompanied, and if I was asked to swap seats once I was asked at least four times.  (I felt like a chess piece.)  I finally decided I wasn't going to move any more, which resulted in me sitting at a table of the bride's relatives, and after asking me how I knew the bride and groom they never said another word to me except for asking me to keep an eye on their kids while they mingled.  I said no, and left soon after.   
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Cellardoor14 on August 07, 2010, 01:11:12 PM
It sounds like what he has a problem with is equally splitting a check.  That being the case, he needs to learn to speak up and request an "every (wo)man for her/himself" setup, as his other friend did.
However, I do have to comment on one particular part of the article:  Being stuck between two groups where I don't know anyone, and no one is talking to me.  I've been there, and that can turn an otherwise nice party into a terribly boring evening.  


I've been there too... It's really frustrating when, like me, you don't get a chance to get out often.  Last time it happened, I was stuck between two separate groups of perfectly nice, but unknown to me, folks, and the background music was so loud I could only hear every third or fourth word either side.  I spent most of the evening, picking the food, as there is only so many times you can say politely "Pardon?" and "Sorry, what was that?" to a group of relative strangers.  By the end, you do start wondering what was the point in going out in the first place, as it's not quite the image of fun you pictured you'd be having as an adult.

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Lisbeth on August 07, 2010, 01:21:34 PM

I am not getting the whole, "birthday parties suck," theme in the article. I've even enjoyed birthday dinners.

I didn't get a "birthday parties suck" vibe from the writer. I got an "I hate subsidizing other people's restaurant excesses" vibe from him. And I can't blame him much - if I can be allowed to pay just for what I ordered and a portion of the birthday person's meal, fine. If I have to fork over more than I can afford so that other people can order shrimp, lobster, and bubbly, then no. I'm not particularly interested.

That was the vibe I got too.  I think everyone should have cleared it with everyone else what the limits were, so that the lower-income people aren't expected to subsidize meals for others that they can't afford-especially when the others aren't paying, like the girlfriend.  That was rude.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 01:31:05 PM
I really see this as two separate issues:  organizing your own birthday dinner at a restaurant and check splitting craziness.

The situation described in the article could have occurred at a "let's all meet up at Chez Fancy for dinner" event - regardless of whether or not it was for a specific occasion.

The guys share was $168 - there were 10 shares (instead of 12), meaning even if Simon and GF had paid, the bill would have been $140 per person - not much better than 168.  I do find paying for the GF odd, (if she hadn't been exempt from paying, it would have been $153 per person)  Usually, when I attend these types of events, if the guest of honor has an SO, the SO covers the guest of honor and everyone else pays their own share.  If the guest of honor doesn't have and SO, usually one or two of the closest friends announce that they are covering the guest.  One time the guest of honor had a birthday coupon entitling her to a free meal - so the restaurant picked up her tab!

The larger issue is the idea that the bill is split evenly - regardless of what people order.  I've done this before - but only if the difference in what we ordered is only a couple dollars.  And I would never suggest it if I was the one who should owe more (although I have accepted).  I consider a few dollars here and there to wash out over time between friends.  Personally, I think it's asking for trouble.  In a situation like this, I think the polite thing for the high spenders to do is to insist on covering their full share of the bill (based on what they ordered), because it's a lot less awkward than the person ordering the garden salad having to put her foot down and refuse to pay for more than the food and drink she consumed.

I would not dine out twice with someone who ordered expensively to others inexpensive orders and then thought splitting the bill equally was fair or right.


ETA:  And I don't actually feel very sorry for the author.  He's playing into the system by ordering more expensive food/drink because he doesn't want to be the one paying more for less.  Which makes him just as bad as those with deep pockets.  Possibly worse since the deep pocketed people might just be clueless to the fact that not everyone was in the position to spend as much money as them.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: TootsNYC on August 07, 2010, 01:56:53 PM
I really see this as two separate issues:  organizing your own birthday dinner at a restaurant and check splitting craziness.

The situation described in the article could have occurred at a "let's all meet up at Chez Fancy for dinner" event - regardless of whether or not it was for a specific occasion.


I agree, but I think the difference here is manyfold:

- for a b'day dinner, you don't get to pick all the dinner's participants. So you can't refuse to spend time w/ the sorts of people who stick you w/ the check.

- when the dinner participants are for a third-party guest of honor, they will likely include several people you don't know well at all--and people nowadays are really lousy as making conversation w/ people they don't know, so even if YOU are able & willing, they likely aren't.

- because the dinner participants aren't your own circle of friends, there isn't any "over time" for things to wash out in.

-for a b'day dinner, you may not feel that you can say "no" without hurting their feelings, or you may really want to send the "you matter to me" message that comes with attending; the pressure to go is higher.

I also wasn't in love with the Writer's tactic of ordering a lot more than normal.
I would have admired him more if he'd said, "I simply resign myself to making this be my one expensive meal out, and I don't try to pinch pennies, but instead join in the 'indulgence' theme. I go along with the crowd, resigned."
That may be what he's really doing, and he just phrased it in a more punitive way.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: bopper on August 07, 2010, 01:57:34 PM


Its not a restaurant being lazy to have a limit to how many checks a table can have, its called business - extra checks take time, are more work for the staff (timing one check to have all the food at once is less communication to an already harried kitchen staff, whereas making sure the kitchen knows these 5 separate bills all have to be ready at the same time...) plus it means they can't as easily add on the large group gratuity, which means the waiter, who is working extra hard, because yes one table of 10 is more work then 5 tables of 2, might get royally stiffed.

I am an American living in Germany and in Germany it is quite common for them to ask "Zusammen oder getrennt?"  which means Together or separate checks?  If it is a split check, then the waiter quickly adds up what you ordered.  In some restaurants you get a little receipt for each item you order so you just gather up all your receipts and pay them.    Mostly they get all the food out at the same time.  Mostly. ;-)
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 02:14:53 PM
I really see this as two separate issues:  organizing your own birthday dinner at a restaurant and check splitting craziness.

The situation described in the article could have occurred at a "let's all meet up at Chez Fancy for dinner" event - regardless of whether or not it was for a specific occasion.


I agree, but I think the difference here is manyfold:

- for a b'day dinner, you don't get to pick all the dinner's participants. So you can't refuse to spend time w/ the sorts of people who stick you w/ the check.

- when the dinner participants are for a third-party guest of honor, they will likely include several people you don't know well at all--and people nowadays are really lousy as making conversation w/ people they don't know, so even if YOU are able & willing, they likely aren't.

- because the dinner participants aren't your own circle of friends, there isn't any "over time" for things to wash out in.

-for a b'day dinner, you may not feel that you can say "no" without hurting their feelings, or you may really want to send the "you matter to me" message that comes with attending; the pressure to go is higher.

Well, most of the time when I go out to dinner, I don't pick all of the participants.  It's generally, one person says, "we should get a group together to go X" and then a bunch of people get added to the group. Even if I'm the one to start the ball rolling, it's generally pretty open invite.  Of course, the types of places we go are not the sort where it would be easy to rack up a $150+/person bill without someone passing out drunk. 

I'm really bad at making conversation with strangers in general, but I actually do better when meeting them in a group setting, like a mutual friends birthday - because we have something in common.  I'm also a great listener (even though I'm not the best talker), so I've never had a problem in these situations, even if there are many people I don't know.  They are certainly easier times to get through than weddings, because I feel less out of my element.

I agree on your 3rd point, which is why I think it is particularly important for these types of things to be everyone pays for what they order, instead of everyone pays for 1/(#of participants) of the bill.  If someone wants to offer to pay for more, that's fine.  But the "oh we should just split it evenly" should *never* come from some one who would be getting a discount from this approach - because it's basically asking someone to cover your meal. 

On your fourth point, I get that some people feel this way, but I sort of think it's their own fault.  There are plenty of ways to say "no" without saying "I don't care".  One of those is of course not getting upset when people can't/don't attend your gatherings.  Another is immediately suggesting a private celebration. ("Sorry, I won't be able to attend your dinner at Chez Fancy, but I'd love to take you out for dessert at Awesome Chocolate Place to celebrate your birthday.  I'm free Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday night of this week if any of those work for you")  Or remembering to call (instead of just a facebook wall message), or even sending a card in the mail.  I've never had a huge issue with declining invites because I'm either not close enough to be involved in the planning/scheduling, so I can beg off on a "previous commitment", or I am close enough to be honest about why I can't attend.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: June24 on August 07, 2010, 03:16:31 PM
I really sympathize with the person who wrote that letter. Even if you're not strapped for cash, it's beyond annoying to have to pay for someone else's extravagant meal if all you ordered was a small amount of food. It's easy for me to say since I wasn't in the situation, but I think that the letter writer could have spoken up and said that he was only paying for his portion of the bill. I can see how that would be really difficult to do, though - not only do you get branded as the "broke one" (which can be embarrassing), but you're seen as the Grinch who spoiled the festivities. It doesn't really matter what people on ehell think - there ARE a surprising number of people out there who would think this way (and maybe even say something) if one person refused to split the bill.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 05:23:46 PM
I really sympathize with the person who wrote that letter. Even if you're not strapped for cash, it's beyond annoying to have to pay for someone else's extravagant meal if all you ordered was a small amount of food. It's easy for me to say since I wasn't in the situation, but I think that the letter writer could have spoken up and said that he was only paying for his portion of the bill. I can see how that would be really difficult to do, though - not only do you get branded as the "broke one" (which can be embarrassing), but you're seen as the Grinch who spoiled the festivities. It doesn't really matter what people on ehell think - there ARE a surprising number of people out there who would think this way (and maybe even say something) if one person refused to split the bill.

But just as a point of clarification, that's not what's happening here.  According to the column article, the guy actually orders expensively - with the theory that if he's subsidizing others, they can subsidize him too.  Which means if there is a person at the dinner who *actually* ordered a small amount of food - the writer is doing just as much to screw them over as the supposed deep-pocketed guests.  Except that whereas the deep-pocketed guests may just be ordering what they like and not even thinking about how others might be subsidizing it, the writer is knowingly doing it for the purpose of being "even".
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: June24 on August 07, 2010, 06:04:27 PM
I really sympathize with the person who wrote that letter. Even if you're not strapped for cash, it's beyond annoying to have to pay for someone else's extravagant meal if all you ordered was a small amount of food. It's easy for me to say since I wasn't in the situation, but I think that the letter writer could have spoken up and said that he was only paying for his portion of the bill. I can see how that would be really difficult to do, though - not only do you get branded as the "broke one" (which can be embarrassing), but you're seen as the Grinch who spoiled the festivities. It doesn't really matter what people on ehell think - there ARE a surprising number of people out there who would think this way (and maybe even say something) if one person refused to split the bill.

But just as a point of clarification, that's not what's happening here.  According to the column article, the guy actually orders expensively - with the theory that if he's subsidizing others, they can subsidize him too.  Which means if there is a person at the dinner who *actually* ordered a small amount of food - the writer is doing just as much to screw them over as the supposed deep-pocketed guests.  Except that whereas the deep-pocketed guests may just be ordering what they like and not even thinking about how others might be subsidizing it, the writer is knowingly doing it for the purpose of being "even".

I don't think there's anything wrong with what the writer is doing. If he's going to be paying a lot of money anyways, he might as well get a meal that he really enjoys out of it. And he's NOT forcing anyone to subsidize his meal - the people who ordered expensive meals would've done so regardless of what the writer ordered. Since the writer is now ordering on par with those people, his contribution of $160 probably covers his own meal, instead of covering someone else's meal. So if the writer had ordered $30 of food, about $130 of his money would've gone to paying for someone else (since he paid a total of $160). Now, if he orders $140 worth of food, he's only paying $20 extra. So he's just evening the field so that he's not paying for food that he didn't eat. There's no indication that he orders MORE than what the bill comes to when it's split evenly. So if the bill comes to $160 per person, he's ordering around $160 of food or less - so he covers his own share fully with his contribution.

Now, ideally, he would speak up and insist that he would only pay for his portion of the bill, and order the amount that he feels comfortable paying for. But there's nothing wrong with ordering the amount of food that he'll be paying for. The problem here is NOT that some people are ordering expensive food. The problem is that they're not paying their fair share. If the writer pays for all the food he orders, it doesn't matter if he orders $30 of food or goes on par with everyone else and orders $140 of food. It seems to me that he's ordering enough that if his bill came separately, he would pay the same amount as he would if he were paying for his portion of the split bill.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 09:14:50 PM
But what about the other guest who only orders a cheap entree?

The letter writer says that instead of ordering a low priced meal and hoping everyone else follows suit, he orders high so that at least he gets his fair share.  But if he's with a large group, he's still contributing to the screwing over of the person that orders the cheap meal.  Ironically, enough of this behavior will lead to more and more people ordering more expensive entrees in order to not be the one getting screwed. 

There is no indication anywhere that he is always the last or even one of the last to order.  And that's why I just can't bring myself to feel sorry for him.  His behavior is passive aggressive at best.  (Not that the people he dines with will necessarily recognize it so long as he doesn't voice his motives - they may just think he likes the baked Alaska - but he did voice those motives in the article).

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: June24 on August 07, 2010, 09:21:55 PM
But what about the other guest who only orders a cheap entree?

The letter writer says that instead of ordering a low priced meal and hoping everyone else follows suit, he orders high so that at least he gets his fair share.  But if he's with a large group, he's still contributing to the screwing over of the person that orders the cheap meal.  Ironically, enough of this behavior will lead to more and more people ordering more expensive entrees in order to not be the one getting screwed. 

There is no indication anywhere that he is always the last or even one of the last to order.  And that's why I just can't bring myself to feel sorry for him.  His behavior is passive aggressive at best.  (Not that the people he dines with will necessarily recognize it so long as he doesn't voice his motives - they may just think he likes the baked Alaska - but he did voice those motives in the article).



He's just ordering enough that whatever he contributes covers his own share. So if he orders $140 of food, he pays $160 of the bill. That's not "screwing over" anyone. The other people who were ordering high priced meals were at fault because they were ordering more like $300 of food and paying only $160.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Nurvingiel on August 07, 2010, 09:34:47 PM
I was at a dinner like that once. But I still go to birthday dinners. Just not birthday dinners with 30 people at a fancy restaurant.

If this author were my friend, I would save him the trouble.  I wouldn't invite him to begin with - he sounds like a real stick in the mud.
I think he'd be fun at a game of dictionary. (The one where you look up words in the dictionary and make up fake definitions for it. Then you try to trick people into thinking your fake one is the real definition). ;D
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 09:38:17 PM
But he doesn't say that anywhere - that he is ordering less that other people.  The phrase he actually uses is "order offensively"  

And lets say you have 10 people with the following orders

1 (Writer): $140
2: $140
3: $140
4: $140
5: $140
6: $160
7: $160
8: $160
9: $160
10: $40

Total: $1380 per person = $138 Meaning the poor $40 person is subsidisizing everyone a bit - even the writer.

Even if the distribution means the writer ends up overpaying for his meal, the person paying $160 for his $40 meal is screwed more than the writer - and screwed more by the writer. Example:

1 (Writer): $140
2: $160
3: $160
4: $160
5: $160
6: $160
7: $160
8: $160
9: $160
10: $40

Total: $1460, per person = $146 So the writer overpays by $6 while the cheap eater overpays by nearly $100.  If the writer ordered his normal meal, then this would go down.  If the writer was ordering what he would normally order (even if it's $140), then he is no worse than the "sybaritic corporate lawyer" who just has expensive taste and isn't concerned with cost.  But it's the selfish mindset of "I'll order more expensively than I normally would so that I don't get screwed" which makes me not have any sympathy for him.

ETA:  And I realize that depending on how you cut the numbers, you can get totally different scenarios.  But part of my point is that we don't know how the numbers were cut for his situation.  For all we know, with his "offensive ordering" he had one of the highest or even the highest share.  I don't fault him for ordering the baked Alaska, I fault him for the concept of "offensive ordering"  (which ironically could either be the opposite of defensive ordering, or actually be intended to be offending people - ah the English language)
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: mj on August 07, 2010, 09:38:23 PM
I'm also one of those that was glad when the birthday dinner fell out of favor with our friends.  Often, you'd end up in a mixed crowd sitting with people you didn't know well and stuck supplementing other peoples drinks or expensive taste in wine.  After abou 5 or 6 of them, I quit going unless it was a small group of 4 or 5 people.  

On the split check, I would never ask a waiter to split the check for a group of 12 or more ordering multiple courses over many hours.  Just think of the logistics.  Normally, a waiter has a computer system that he pulls up a table number and places orders for them.  If he has 8 tables he's working, having 12 separate checks just increased his complexity by more than 100%.  So let's say, he's name your table table number 2.  He now has ticketing for 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i, 2j, 2k, & 2l.  You each order your first round of drinks, so he now brings up 12 separate tickets and enters them in.  5 of you decide to order apps.  He now has to remember which of you is 2a, 2d, 2e, 2i, & 2j... and just hope two of you haven't asked him to split the cost between two of you because your going to share.  Another round of drinks are ordered by 6 and again he's submitting 6 separate orders and trying to remember who is who.  You then get to the entree round and another 12 orders to place and againing remembering who is who.  More drinks, some desserts, coffee ordered and maybe another round of night caps.  I'm exhausted just thinking of the logistics of trying to keep up with these hungry and thirsty 12 individuals and their separate requests.

Also, in my experience, I think more people would be bothered by food arriving at different times than not.  I've always been trained to wait until everyone gets served before starting my meal, especially the entree course.  

I agree.  I don't think many people know the level of detail they're asking when requesting to split a check.  

Also, I do think it's something to be aware of before you get to the restaurant.  Whoever hosted should scope out and check with restaurants to see who will/will not split checks if it is that important to the party.  Otherwise, it's like dining any other time, order what you can pay for.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 09:47:04 PM
I'm also one of those that was glad when the birthday dinner fell out of favor with our friends.  Often, you'd end up in a mixed crowd sitting with people you didn't know well and stuck supplementing other peoples drinks or expensive taste in wine.  After abou 5 or 6 of them, I quit going unless it was a small group of 4 or 5 people.  

On the split check, I would never ask a waiter to split the check for a group of 12 or more ordering multiple courses over many hours.  Just think of the logistics.  Normally, a waiter has a computer system that he pulls up a table number and places orders for them.  If he has 8 tables he's working, having 12 separate checks just increased his complexity by more than 100%.  So let's say, he's name your table table number 2.  He now has ticketing for 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i, 2j, 2k, & 2l.  You each order your first round of drinks, so he now brings up 12 separate tickets and enters them in.  5 of you decide to order apps.  He now has to remember which of you is 2a, 2d, 2e, 2i, & 2j... and just hope two of you haven't asked him to split the cost between two of you because your going to share.  Another round of drinks are ordered by 6 and again he's submitting 6 separate orders and trying to remember who is who.  You then get to the entree round and another 12 orders to place and againing remembering who is who.  More drinks, some desserts, coffee ordered and maybe another round of night caps.  I'm exhausted just thinking of the logistics of trying to keep up with these hungry and thirsty 12 individuals and their separate requests.

Also, in my experience, I think more people would be bothered by food arriving at different times than not.  I've always been trained to wait until everyone gets served before starting my meal, especially the entree course.  

I agree.  I don't think many people know the level of detail they're asking when requesting to split a check.  

Also, I do think it's something to be aware of before you get to the restaurant.  Whoever hosted should scope out and check with restaurants to see who will/will not split checks if it is that important to the party.  Otherwise, it's like dining any other time, order what you can pay for.

I get why it's complicated now, but I don't understand why it has to be.  With all of the advances in computers and technology, one would think this could be solved by a computer programmer with a free afternoon. 

I really think the restaurants count on people ordering more with unsplit checks - and that's why there isn't yet a simpler solution - but I'll admit that is an unfounded hunch  ;)
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: DangerMouth on August 07, 2010, 10:21:22 PM
I agree.  I don't think many people know the level of detail they're asking when requesting to split a check.  

Also, I do think it's something to be aware of before you get to the restaurant.  Whoever hosted should scope out and check with restaurants to see who will/will not split checks if it is that important to the party.  Otherwise, it's like dining any other time, order what you can pay for.

I think that's part of the problem- there is no 'host' for affairs like these. It's just someone saying "oh, we should go to dinner for Soandsos birthday", and people show up, but no one is actually "hosting" the event.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 10:37:25 PM
If I had taken it upon myself to invite my friends out to dinner, I wouldn't for one second expect them to pay for a thing!

For any occasion, for my birthday or theirs, if I extended the invitation, it's 100% my treat!!!

This is interesting - because it's not really the case in my social circle.  There are two distinct types of invitation: "let me take you out to dinner" and "let's meet up for dinner"  I use the first if I plan on paying, and the second if I'm organizing a group outing and expect it to be pay your own way.   

If someone said, "do you want to go out to _____ Friday", I'd consider it an invitation, but I wouldn't ever assume they were planning on paying.

I can't afford to take all my friends out, but it's nice to all meet up sometimes.  And someone has to start the organizational ball rolling! 
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: shhh its me on August 07, 2010, 10:53:10 PM
I agree.  I don't think many people know the level of detail they're asking when requesting to split a check.  

Also, I do think it's something to be aware of before you get to the restaurant.  Whoever hosted should scope out and check with restaurants to see who will/will not split checks if it is that important to the party.  Otherwise, it's like dining any other time, order what you can pay for.

I think that's part of the problem- there is no 'host' for affairs like these. It's just someone saying "oh, we should go to dinner for Soandsos birthday", and people show up, but no one is actually "hosting" the event.

I think in the authors case the Bday is either the sole organizer or at least adding to the group of people who says " Oh we should get together for Simons Bday, Simon where do you want to go"   " tres chic and my college friend should come too"

there was a thread about hosting your own Bday party and it was very heated.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Amava on August 07, 2010, 10:58:41 PM
I also think people who are about to get stuck w/ a bill they don't deserve should speak up, and quite loudly. "Wait--I didn't order all the expensive wine, and appetizers, and I didn't eat them. I ordered a sandwich, and dessert, then there's tip and tax, and my share if $35. Here it is." Plonk--onto the table go your bills.

I like this.
Especially the sound effect "plonk".  ;D (Sorry. I just got out of bed, and I'm easily amused when I'm still waking up.)
No seriously, I think this is the right way to go. It's simple, it's straightforward, nobody gets taken advantage of, and nobody has to begrudge others for eating too much / too expensive.
In other words, yes people should speak up for themselves already.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: June24 on August 07, 2010, 11:03:53 PM
But he doesn't say that anywhere - that he is ordering less that other people.  The phrase he actually uses is "order offensively"  

And lets say you have 10 people with the following orders

1 (Writer): $140
2: $140
3: $140
4: $140
5: $140
6: $160
7: $160
8: $160
9: $160
10: $40

Total: $1380 per person = $138 Meaning the poor $40 person is subsidisizing everyone a bit - even the writer.

Even if the distribution means the writer ends up overpaying for his meal, the person paying $160 for his $40 meal is screwed more than the writer - and screwed more by the writer. Example:

1 (Writer): $140
2: $160
3: $160
4: $160
5: $160
6: $160
7: $160
8: $160
9: $160
10: $40

Total: $1460, per person = $146 So the writer overpays by $6 while the cheap eater overpays by nearly $100.  If the writer ordered his normal meal, then this would go down.  If the writer was ordering what he would normally order (even if it's $140), then he is no worse than the "sybaritic corporate lawyer" who just has expensive taste and isn't concerned with cost.  But it's the selfish mindset of "I'll order more expensively than I normally would so that I don't get screwed" which makes me not have any sympathy for him.

ETA:  And I realize that depending on how you cut the numbers, you can get totally different scenarios.  But part of my point is that we don't know how the numbers were cut for his situation.  For all we know, with his "offensive ordering" he had one of the highest or even the highest share.  I don't fault him for ordering the baked Alaska, I fault him for the concept of "offensive ordering"  (which ironically could either be the opposite of defensive ordering, or actually be intended to be offending people - ah the English language)

I just don't blame him at all for ordering close to the amount that he will be paying for. It's not his responsibility to make sure that other people aren't screwed - since he feels like he can't change the situation, he's ordering on par with what he's going to be paying. The other people can either order "offensively" themselves, or speak up and say that they'll only pay for their portion. The writer isn't required to stay in the victim role so that other people won't have to pay more. That's requiring way too much of him, IMO.

In your scenario, if the writer just took a separate check and paid for his own meal of $140, then it would break down like this:
People 2-9) $160
Person 10) $40

So each person would pay $146.67 - that's the SAME (actually a little more) as it would be if the writer hadn't taken the separate check. So the person who ordered the cheapest meal would pay the same amount regardless of whether the writer paid with the group or paid on his own. So the writer isn't causing any additional financial burden to this person. Sure, it would be cheaper for the other person if the writer ordered a $40 meal - in fact, it would be even cheaper if the writer didn't eat at all and still chipped in for the bill. I just don't see how you can expect that kind of financial self-sacrifice, though.

If you really think that the writer was rude, then you must think that the person who seceded from the bill was also rude - after all, it would've been cheaper for everyone else if he had paid with the rest of the group rather than getting his own check.

I just don't see how you can ask that someone overpay for their bill so that others don't have to. It's up to those others to either order offensively, or speak up. I sure wouldn't eat a $40 meal while subsidizing someone else's $160 meal - everyone likes good food, and if I'm going to be paying for it, I'd better be eating it.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 07, 2010, 11:43:46 PM
I just don't blame him at all for ordering close to the amount that he will be paying for. It's not his responsibility to make sure that other people aren't screwed - since he feels like he can't change the situation, he's ordering on par with what he's going to be paying. The other people can either order "offensively" themselves, or speak up and say that they'll only pay for their portion. The writer isn't required to stay in the victim role so that other people won't have to pay more. That's requiring way too much of him, IMO.

In your scenario, if the writer just took a separate check and paid for his own meal of $140, then it would break down like this:
People 2-9) $160
Person 10) $40

So each person would pay $146.67 - that's the SAME (actually a little more) as it would be if the writer hadn't taken the separate check. So the person who ordered the cheapest meal would pay the same amount regardless of whether the writer paid with the group or paid on his own. So the writer isn't causing any additional financial burden to this person. Sure, it would be cheaper for the other person if the writer ordered a $40 meal - in fact, it would be even cheaper if the writer didn't eat at all and still chipped in for the bill. I just don't see how you can expect that kind of financial self-sacrifice, though.

If you really think that the writer was rude, then you must think that the person who seceded from the bill was also rude - after all, it would've been cheaper for everyone else if he had paid with the rest of the group rather than getting his own check.


I just don't see how you can ask that someone overpay for their bill so that others don't have to. It's up to those others to either order offensively, or speak up. I sure wouldn't eat a $40 meal while subsidizing someone else's $160 meal - everyone likes good food, and if I'm going to be paying for it, I'd better be eating it.

I trimmed the quote tree. 

Re: the bolded. The reason I think the writer is rude is *not* because he ordered an expensive meal.  It's because he is complaining about other people ordering an expensive meal that he will have to help pay for (unless of course he does the mature, responsible thing and actually deal with it - by asking for a separate check or addressing the overpayment issue), while he is doing the exact same thing  But he's not just doing it because he happens to want the expensive meal.  And honestly, his "strategy" is more likely to exacerbate the problem for himself in the future.  Because if everyone thinks like him, then everyone will keep ordering more and more expensive things each dinner out.  And the only one who wins will be the restaurant. 

And again, there is absolutely nothing to indicate that his expensive meal was cheaper than everyone elses.  It still could have been the most expensive. 

But it's the attitude, not the specific action I take issue with anyhow.  I know a lot of people think that the thought behind an action can't be rude, only the action itself - but when you publish articles about your thoughts, I think that changes a bit. 

I guess I just see his strategy as taking advantage of the system - and I don't think that you get to take advantage of a situation and then whine about it. 
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Raintree on August 08, 2010, 12:09:43 AM
LOL, I had to laugh a bit at the writer's strategy of ordering more expensive stuff on the grounds that he was going to be paying for everyone else's anyway.

Reminds me of a situation I found myself in:

I was new at work, and someone there invited me to go for sushi Friday night. Now, I couldn't really afford to eat out, but sushi joints are a dime a dozen in this town and you can usually eat well for about $15-$20 at them. And not wanting to be standoffish at the new workplace, I agreed to go.

So I show up Friday night and it turns out to be a super high-end Japanese restaurant in the trendiest part of town (not just a casual sushi joint). Lots of specialty foods I'd never tried. The group was just ordering a bunch of stuff to put in the middle of the table and share, willy-nilly and continuously throughout the evening. There would have been no real way to get a separate check as I was participating in shared food. They were also ordering all kinds of fancy mixed drinks. I knew that come time to pay, the check would be split equally, so I just went ahead and ordered those fancy mixed drinks too, my rationale being that I was going to be paying for everyone else's anyway so I might as well have them too.

In the end this meal cost me my entire food budget for that paycheque (two week period) and I learned to inquire a little more closely in future before accepting invitations to restaurants.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: noexitwounds on August 08, 2010, 04:35:32 AM
Re: the bolded. The reason I think the writer is rude is *not* because he ordered an expensive meal.  It's because he is complaining about other people ordering an expensive meal that he will have to help pay for (unless of course he does the mature, responsible thing and actually deal with it - by asking for a separate check or addressing the overpayment issue), while he is doing the exact same thing  But he's not just doing it because he happens to want the expensive meal.  And honestly, his "strategy" is more likely to exacerbate the problem for himself in the future.  Because if everyone thinks like him, then everyone will keep ordering more and more expensive things each dinner out.  And the only one who wins will be the restaurant. 
 

The author explicitly states that he used to order on the lower end of the scale but, being unable to change the attitude of the group -- the majority of which were ordering on the high end -- he decided to stop subsidizing their meals while he goes without on his own.

"I developed this system after too many birthday dinners where I went home poor and hungry. This way, at least, you get the food you want."

Honestly, I can't blame him. Would you want to order $30 worth of food only to be expected to contribute $170 to the meal? That's nearly SIX times the amount you ordered. Meanwhile, you get only a small dish or maybe just an appetizer and drink water, so you're not completely full (unless you're a very small eater to begin with), don't get the drink you wanted, and have to eat Ramen for a *week* at the end of the month because the extra $140 has to come from somewhere in you're budget and if you're on a tight one (as many grad students are -- I seriously don't know a single one, who doesn't have a trust fund or very generous parents, who hasn't overdrawn on their bank account at least once to cover basic necessities) it probably means skipping on a bill or skimping on groceries.

Can you decline the invite? Yes, to the risk of you're friend feeling very hurt and like you're not as close as s/he thought you were.

Can you insist on only paying your portion? Yes, but you come across as a cheapskate and jerk because you're begrudging others. This can also impact your relationship with your birthday having friend.  (And, honestly, I don't think anyone can argue that people aren't looked down upon if everyone else agrees to split the check evenly and they insist on splitting their portion only. People who go against the grain with money in such a way they're trying to pay less aren't looked upon fondly. It's more "I'm splitting the check evenly and I only ordered $150 dollars worth of food, so what's wrong with you that you won't suck it up for the group?")

At which point the only halfway reasonable option is to order food enough that you'll not be paying six times your own bill.

Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 08, 2010, 05:14:09 AM

The author explicitly states that he used to order on the lower end of the scale but, being unable to change the attitude of the group -- the majority of which were ordering on the high end -- he decided to stop subsidizing their meals while he goes without on his own.

"I developed this system after too many birthday dinners where I went home poor and hungry. This way, at least, you get the food you want."

Honestly, I can't blame him. Would you want to order $30 worth of food only to be expected to contribute $170 to the meal? That's nearly SIX times the amount you ordered. Meanwhile, you get only a small dish or maybe just an appetizer and drink water, so you're not completely full (unless you're a very small eater to begin with), don't get the drink you wanted, and have to eat Ramen for a *week* at the end of the month because the extra $140 has to come from somewhere in you're budget and if you're on a tight one (as many grad students are -- I seriously don't know a single one, who doesn't have a trust fund or very generous parents, who hasn't overdrawn on their bank account at least once to cover basic necessities) it probably means skipping on a bill or skimping on groceries.

Can you decline the invite? Yes, to the risk of you're friend feeling very hurt and like you're not as close as s/he thought you were.

Can you insist on only paying your portion? Yes, but you come across as a cheapskate and jerk because you're begrudging others. This can also impact your rel@tionship with your birthday having friend.  (And, honestly, I don't think anyone can argue that people aren't looked down upon if everyone else agrees to split the check evenly and they insist on splitting their portion only. People who go against the grain with money in such a way they're trying to pay less aren't looked upon fondly. It's more "I'm splitting the check evenly and I only ordered $150 dollars worth of food, so what's wrong with you that you won't suck it up for the group?")

At which point the only halfway reasonable option is to order food enough that you'll not be paying six times your own bill.



Again, I guess one of the issues I have with this is that if everyone acts like the author, the only winner is the restaurant - because everyone will just order more and more. It's like avoiding the issue instead of dealing with it. I think that there are ways to pay for only your portion without sending the message of begrudging others - because in fact you are indulging their desire to want to order lots of expensive things.  But most people would understand this.  

One tactic is to be pre-emptive, and actually excuse yourself before the check comes.  If you know what you've ordered, do a little math for the tax and auto-grat, and pull out what you know you owe while headed to the restroom and say "Excuse me, I need to use the restroom, this should cover my meal and drinks"  Be explicit - there is a really good chance others will follow suit.  In large group situations people aren't always aware that one person has significantly under (or over) ordered - and because people are lazy they opt for the split X number of ways.  If you wait to say, "I'm only paying $Y" until after someone has announced how much everyone owes - people will be annoyed because they've already figured it out and now they have to do more math.  If you address the issue head on, it's less likely to be an issue.  As I said up-thread, I've never been in a situation where the check was just split evenly if people hadn't all ordered the same thing.  That's not just luck, its also being upfront about expectations.

In terms of declining an invite, if someone doesn't learn to politely decline invites, they are going to be in a world of hurt later in life.  

Re: bolded  As a grad student, I know many grad students who have never overdrawn their bank account (necessities or not) without the help of mom, dad or a trust fund - myself included.  It's not necessarily an easy thing to do, but plenty of grad students do it.  Perhaps not the ones that haven't learned to say no to $140 dinners though...  Honestly though, I understand that money can be tight.  Which is why the writer's approach is so awful to me - it's not addressing the issue.  He's still blowing his budget on one meal out.  But then (unlike the rich lawyers he complains about), he has the nerve to gripe about how much it sucks that people order expensively - when he is doing the same thing.  Except without the plausible deniability that he was just ordering what he wanted to eat that the rich lawyer has.  

And I'd like to reiterate that for me it's about the attitude that he has in his article and his rationale.  If he went out and ordered with reckless abandon because it was going to be his one night out that month and he was going to have a good time, well then darn it, I'm with him 100%!  Just like I'm with the grad student that eats ramen for 11 months straight and doesn't turn the lights on so they can afford afford a fun vacation that year.  It's the "offensive ordering", while complaining about the whole practice and having to pay a large amount of money because he's basically forced to order the expensive thing because he's too immature to deal with the issue head on that bothers me.  And I'd also be bothered by the grad student who complained about the fact that they ate ramen for 11 months in the dark to afford to go on the cruise with a bunch of their lawyer friends who had more money. 
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Moralia on August 08, 2010, 06:25:05 AM
I went to a workplace birthday lunch and people wanted to "split the bill evenly".  I had only a salad at the expensive steak restaurant and said with a smile.  "Well, you can do what you like, here's the X for my salad + Y for the tip and Z for my share of B-Day girl's food."
I was never invited back out with that group, but honestly, if they only want me around to subsidize their meals, I can take the "ostracism".
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: noexitwounds on August 08, 2010, 08:01:35 AM
It's the "offensive ordering", while complaining about the whole practice and having to pay a large amount of money because he's basically forced to order the expensive thing because he's too immature to deal with the issue head on that bothers me.

You gave one example of how to do it "without sending the message of begrudging others" -- and even the example doesn't work if the group defacto agrees that checks for this sort of event are split evenly. I really can't think of a way to say "I'm only paying $40." while everyone else is paying $180 and now has to pay $190 because of you that doesn't lead to hard feelings.

Again, the author states he's tried other ways of handling this and they didn't work. If there's a group consensus on how something is handled it is very difficult for one person to change that consensus. I wouldn't call that immaturity. And he only came to 'offensive ordering' because he was fed up with paying much more than what his own food cost and going home hungry besides. That isn't hypocritical -- it's assessing a bad situation and making the best of it. He can still be frustrated with the practice while handling it in a way he isn't taken massive advantage of. Why does he have to be getting taken advantage of to complain about the practice?
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: mj on August 08, 2010, 10:35:53 AM
I'm also one of those that was glad when the birthday dinner fell out of favor with our friends.  Often, you'd end up in a mixed crowd sitting with people you didn't know well and stuck supplementing other peoples drinks or expensive taste in wine.  After abou 5 or 6 of them, I quit going unless it was a small group of 4 or 5 people.  

On the split check, I would never ask a waiter to split the check for a group of 12 or more ordering multiple courses over many hours.  Just think of the logistics.  Normally, a waiter has a computer system that he pulls up a table number and places orders for them.  If he has 8 tables he's working, having 12 separate checks just increased his complexity by more than 100%.  So let's say, he's name your table table number 2.  He now has ticketing for 2a, 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g, 2h, 2i, 2j, 2k, & 2l.  You each order your first round of drinks, so he now brings up 12 separate tickets and enters them in.  5 of you decide to order apps.  He now has to remember which of you is 2a, 2d, 2e, 2i, & 2j... and just hope two of you haven't asked him to split the cost between two of you because your going to share.  Another round of drinks are ordered by 6 and again he's submitting 6 separate orders and trying to remember who is who.  You then get to the entree round and another 12 orders to place and againing remembering who is who.  More drinks, some desserts, coffee ordered and maybe another round of night caps.  I'm exhausted just thinking of the logistics of trying to keep up with these hungry and thirsty 12 individuals and their separate requests.

Also, in my experience, I think more people would be bothered by food arriving at different times than not.  I've always been trained to wait until everyone gets served before starting my meal, especially the entree course.  

I agree.  I don't think many people know the level of detail they're asking when requesting to split a check.  

Also, I do think it's something to be aware of before you get to the restaurant.  Whoever hosted should scope out and check with restaurants to see who will/will not split checks if it is that important to the party.  Otherwise, it's like dining any other time, order what you can pay for.

I get why it's complicated now, but I don't understand why it has to be.  With all of the advances in computers and technology, one would think this could be solved by a computer programmer with a free afternoon. 

I really think the restaurants count on people ordering more with unsplit checks - and that's why there isn't yet a simpler solution - but I'll admit that is an unfounded hunch  ;)

I don't think the technology is the problem.  The waitstaff would still have to enter the information into the program and that's where the problem is.  There are very few people in this world who could manage to remember that level of detail or manage to right it all down correctly -- at the same time not assign anything to the wrong person.

The restaurants I worked in didn't say the reason was b/c people ordered more, it was just a downright hassle.   Especially when considering if people shared apps, desserts....who do you charge then?  And why should one table monopolize the waiters time? 

It's not the restaurants that are the problem, I'm thinking it's more of the diners and companions problem.  If the group you're (general you) with can't or won't split the bill fairly, then it's not the restaurants fault.  They offer the service and the group agreed took them up on it.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: CluelessBride on August 08, 2010, 12:22:56 PM
It's the "offensive ordering", while complaining about the whole practice and having to pay a large amount of money because he's basically forced to order the expensive thing because he's too immature to deal with the issue head on that bothers me.

You gave one example of how to do it "without sending the message of begrudging others" -- and even the example doesn't work if the group defacto agrees that checks for this sort of event are split evenly. I really can't think of a way to say "I'm only paying $40." while everyone else is paying $180 and now has to pay $190 because of you that doesn't lead to hard feelings.

Again, the author states he's tried other ways of handling this and they didn't work. If there's a group consensus on how something is handled it is very difficult for one person to change that consensus. I wouldn't call that immaturity. And he only came to 'offensive ordering' because he was fed up with paying much more than what his own food cost and going home hungry besides. That isn't hypocritical -- it's assessing a bad situation and making the best of it. He can still be frustrated with the practice while handling it in a way he isn't taken massive advantage of. Why does he have to be getting taken advantage of to complain about the practice?

He himself admits he hasn't tried the first method he discusses (seceding from the check).  He doesn't even discuss offering to pay for only what he consumed wish out getting a separate check.  So he hasn't tried tons of other ways.  Just the subtle way of ordering cheap and hoping other people will also order cheap (even if they happen to want and be able to afford more expensive entrees.)  And I'd point out that the ordering cheap strategy only works if everyone else obsesses over this as much as he does (instead of just not realizing that there is an issue).  He also barely addresses declining invites, although it is his new plan - and I think it's a much better one than "offensive ordering".  Honestly, if it's such a problem decline invites to places that are this expensive.  Other methods include being upfront with your friends *before* the event (someone who doesn't understand that I can't/don't want to afford to pay for their share of a meal when I'm not ordering so extravagantly, is perhaps not someone I would want to dine with anyway.)  Another option would be to organize events and meals that are inherently cheaper or flat rate per person or more easily paid for individually.     

Regarding the bolded, it's because he is making the choice to participate in the system.  And this type of system relies on participation - he is as much to blame as the lawyers he claims have expensive taste.  Arguably more to blame because while there is no indication that the lawyers know not everyone is ordering and consuming on about the same level - he could just be getting what he/she would normally get at Chez Fancy.  The letter writer, however, is aware of the system, but still buys into the keeping up with Jones' attitude of it all.  He is condoning it by not doing anything to try to counteract the overall issue of "everyone pays the same no matter what" (except write a whiny article).  He can't claim to hate that people order with reckless abandon and then do the same thing - it is hypocritical.  It would be like claiming you hate it when people include registry info in their wedding invites, but then do it anyway because you don't want to get screwed and get weird things because no one knows where you are registered. 

I mean, I don't think he is the worst person ever, I just don't feel sorry for him.  It's like a bed, made, lie situation to me.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: noexitwounds on August 08, 2010, 12:39:19 PM
Arguably more to blame because while there is no indication that the lawyers know not everyone is ordering and consuming on about the same level - he could just be getting what he/she would normally get at Chez Fancy.

The lawyers would have to be terminally stupid or self-absorbed not to realize that the grad students are on tight budgets. It's common knowledge.

He is condoning it by not doing anything to try to counteract the overall issue of "everyone pays the same no matter what" (except write a whiny article).  He can't claim to hate that people order with reckless abandon and then do the same thing - it is hypocritical.  It would be like claiming you hate it when people include registry info in their wedding invites, but then do it anyway because you don't want to get screwed and get weird things because no one knows where you are registered. 

He wrote an article condemning the system that leads to it. He acknowledged he was part of the system, which is usually how it works with someone protests a system. It's not hypocritical to dislike a system you participate in because you don't see a better choice.

Declining invites - he doesn't get to celebrate his friend's birthdays/special occasions/what not because of the thoughtless well-funded persons.

Saying "I don't want to pay as much so you need to pay even more now" -- can lead to resentment by other people in the party.

Until someone provides an example of how to do this without punishing the author (like paying when he only consumed a small portion or declining invites he wants to go to) or potentially leading to resentment/the perception he's a cheap skate, I'm going to hold my position. He's reacting in a logical way to a system that sucks.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: baglady on August 08, 2010, 01:22:44 PM
Quote
The lawyers would have to be terminally stupid or self-absorbed not to realize that the grad students are on tight budgets. It's common knowledge.

But this party was made up of several different groups of people who didn't know each other. The author said he was seated with people he didn't know. The wealthier people in the group may not have had a clue that there were struggling grad students among the guests -- they're at Chez Fancy, after all, so the assumption is that they can afford to eat there. Heck, I don't even know what most of my friends make, let alone strangers.

In a smaller group where everyone knows each other well, someone who doesn't want to split the bill evenly could speak up. In a big group with strangers, I know I couldn't do that without feeling either cheap or playing the pity card.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: noexitwounds on August 08, 2010, 01:38:17 PM
Quote
The lawyers would have to be terminally stupid or self-absorbed not to realize that the grad students are on tight budgets. It's common knowledge.

But this party was made up of several different groups of people who didn't know each other. The author said he was seated with people he didn't know. The wealthier people in the group may not have had a clue that there were struggling grad students among the guests -- they're at Chez Fancy, after all, so the assumption is that they can afford to eat there. Heck, I don't even know what most of my friends make, let alone strangers.

In a smaller group where everyone knows each other well, someone who doesn't want to split the bill evenly could speak up. In a big group with strangers, I know I couldn't do that without feeling either cheap or playing the pity card.

The thing is -- he was just using an example to illustrate a larger problem. So, in this instance, yes, the lawyers may not know there are those among them who can't afford extravagance (though I think it's fairly common sense to round down rather than up when you don't know and I doubt it wouldn't come out they were grad students during the dinner if anyone in that situation talked to the other side), but in other situations -- which are just as aggravating to the author -- people would have/may have known and done it anyway.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: evely28 on August 08, 2010, 01:42:08 PM
It seems like this guy went to the dinner and would have been happy except:

     1) For the amount of expensive left over food.

     2) Someone spoke for the group and offered to pay for the girlfriends dinner.


His definition of ordering "offensively" sounds like ordering in a way that there won't be a huge disparity in the price range. He sounds like if the others ordered chicken or mid range that that's what he would order. If the other's are ordering lobster he might as well do the same. I don't see how he can be faulted for this.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Danismom on August 08, 2010, 03:06:47 PM
I find it interesting that so many restaurants still claim their technology won't allow for split checks.  14 years ago I worked for a popular TX seafood restaurant that had computerized checks (POS system).  One of the basic functions was how to split a check.  With a large group you simply asked discreetly if it was separate or together.  Then if it was separate, you asked who was on which check and went from there.  It all went into the computer on 1 ticket and the server used any downtime to breakdown the check into the separate tickets (abcde...).  It really wasn't very hard at all.  And for shared items, I would ask whose bill they went on. 

I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's job.  Management has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: C0mputerGeek on August 08, 2010, 04:46:36 PM
I find it interesting that so many restaurants still claim their technology won't allow for split checks.  14 years ago I worked for a popular TX seafood restaurant that had computerized checks (POS system).  One of the basic functions was how to split a check.

Does every restaurant use the exact same software? Somehow, I think not. I think restaurants purchase software that is (1) within their budget and (2) meets the needs that they have prioritized. Just because Restaurant A has software that splits the checks for large parties does not mean that Restaurant B will.

I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's jobManagement has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

Bolding, mine.

I would like this would depend on the restaurant. Not all managers/owners may consider providing separate checks an essential part of the wait staff's job.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Surianne on August 08, 2010, 05:23:02 PM
I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's jobManagement has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

Bolding, mine.

I would like this would depend on the restaurant. Not all managers/owners may consider providing separate checks an essential part of the wait staff's job.

Dansimom specifically said she was only talking about restaurants where cheque splitting is allowed, and thus it's part of the service the waiter provides. 
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Miss Understood on August 08, 2010, 11:19:22 PM
I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's jobManagement has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

Bolding, mine.

I would like this would depend on the restaurant. Not all managers/owners may consider providing separate checks an essential part of the wait staff's job.

Dansimom specifically said she was only talking about restaurants where cheque splitting is allowed, and thus it's part of the service the waiter provides. 

True, and I would agree, in a restaurant that allows separate checks.  This would apparently require a software system that would allow servers to move charges from one check to another without manual manager approval, which was not the case where I worked (and since restaurant policy was against separate checks, that was always cause for a reprimand). 

She also indicated that this moving around would be something that would be done during “downtime,” an unknown term where I worked.  I think it probably comes down to the same thing as in my “no reservations” thread a few months ago – if the restaurant is turning away business to begin with, it doesn’t need to attract more by burdening its servers with extra work.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: blarg314 on August 09, 2010, 04:27:51 AM

$168.51/person for a dinner out?!?

I've never spent that much for a dinner in my life. Doing so as a grad student would have been impossible - that was about 1/3 of my monthly rent, or about 3 weeks of groceries.

I don't mind going out for someone's birthday within reason. Within reason means that there is the option for someone on a tight budget to order separately, or that the venue is chosen with the budget of the most cash strapped member of the party taken into account. In general, graduate students don't go to upscale steak houses unless someone else is paying. Graduate students also rarely order from a wine list.


Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Venus193 on August 09, 2010, 07:24:14 AM
When Eunice and Steve helped me with my mother's house 5 years ago I took them to the Firebird:

http://www.firebirdrestaurant.com/

We didn't order a bottle but we did have caviar, cocktails, and a couple of glasses of wine.  The bill was $405 and I tipped $100 because of the imperial-level service.

So it is possible to spend $168 per person.  Which doesn't necessarily make it a good idea.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: siamesecat2965 on August 09, 2010, 08:28:40 AM
I find it interesting that so many restaurants still claim their technology won't allow for split checks.  14 years ago I worked for a popular TX seafood restaurant that had computerized checks (POS system).  One of the basic functions was how to split a check.  With a large group you simply asked discreetly if it was separate or together.  Then if it was separate, you asked who was on which check and went from there.  It all went into the computer on 1 ticket and the server used any downtime to breakdown the check into the separate tickets (abcde...).  It really wasn't very hard at all.  And for shared items, I would ask whose bill they went on.  

I do think that in restaurants that allow splitting checks doing so *IS* an essential part of the server's job.  Management has determined that their restaurant will provide this service.  The server should be trained on how to do it and expected to do so without objection.

My mom eats out about once a month with several social groups; lunch and dinner.  They go to a variety of restaurants, and in each and every one they are able to get separate checks.  I do know if they can't, they don't go back, as its too much trouble that no one in the group wants to deal with.

I've actually declined to go out for birthday's etc. when I know there will be people in the group I don't know to avoid the situation described in the letter writer's story.  I don't really drink, and generlaly can't afford to split a huge check which includes everyone else's drinks.  My friends and I will go out and take out whoever's birthday it is, but there are 4 of us, and we will simply split the bill as we all usually order about the same amount.

I do remember being very irritated at one friend, who sent out an email, saying hey, we should all get together for dinner, let’s try the new Melting Pot restaurant, how about this date?  We all agreed, but she then said, in another email, it’s Susie’s birthday, so we can take her out!!!! The reason I was mad was that I had looked at the menu, and knew it was pricy, but as Susie was included in that email, there wasn’t any way to politely say, hey, it’s a little expensive, how about we just pay for ourselves?  

 I was fine with taking Susie out for her birthday, just not there!  So we went, and she had no clue it was so pricy, but I think she learned her lesson when the bill, split 3 ways, came to 80-95 for each of the three of us!  She was amazed it was so expensive, and that was with no alcohol!  I did tell her later on that I wish she hadn’t said we’d take Susie there, and she said yeah, I see your point.
 
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Ambrosia Hino on August 09, 2010, 10:54:54 AM
makes me glad that my friends still prefer to have their fabulous drinking parties at their homes to celebrate any and all occasions. I have, can, and will take my friends out for their birthdays but its usually one-on-one or as a double date (me, DH, friend, and friend's SO). My friends cannot do the same for me, financially, and I know and understand that. My birthday rotates between being an at-home party and something private with DH (our birthdays are 2 weeks apart; every year one of us gets a party, the other gets private dinner/event and we rotate every year)

Most recently, DH and I met up with FIL, SMIL, step-bro, and step-sis for SMIL's birthday. We knew we were going to dinner, but only as of lunchtime that same day. DH and I covered SMIL's meal, leaving FIL to only need to cover his own and his step-children.  This still falls into what I'm willing to do - cover my food and that of the person we're celebrating. If someone else wants to help cover the celebrant's bill, I'll split it with them, but I am NOT just going to split the entire bill among people.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Hushabye on August 09, 2010, 11:16:32 AM
The whole thing is really interesting to me because it's something I haven't run into too often.  Among friends, we paid for what we ordered if we couldn't get separate checks and split the GOH's (But never GOH's SO.  Seriously?!).  Most of the time, going out with coworkers in DC, we paid for what we ordered, especially as we usually went out for Happy Hour, and drink costs vary widely. 

It's always been among more distant coworkers or newly-met individuals (I'm thinking specifically of when I was an intern and went out with the other interns a time or two here) that the "split it equally" meme has emerged -- and I've generally made it a point not to go out again with those individuals precisely because I almost invariably ended up paying at least a little more than I had planned and over what I had actually ordered.

Now I think I have enough of a backbone to say, if someone wanted to split things evenly, "I'm sorry, but I only ordered X.  Here is $YY to cover it and the tip, and $Z to contribute to GOH's meal."
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: hobish on August 09, 2010, 12:03:12 PM
Quote
And to be honest your reason for them doing it this way is actually in deed laziness. . . i.e. trying to do less work.  It may be more work to co-ordinate, but it still can be done, I also don't see why they can't still add on the tip on separate bills.    Do I want the waitress to get stiffed?  No, not at all,  but if some cheep skate does not pony up and i get stiffed because the restaurant will not do separate checks, im sure not going to tip more than a penny more than the mandatory cuz i am already paying too much.  Had i had my own check, i would have been far more generous.

It's not laziness, believe me, there is nothing lazy about waiting on 12 half drunk 30 year old that are all trying look posh and don't really know how to do it.

The problem comes with the ordering. Trying to keep track while 12 people are all randomly ordering, or people ordering for other people causes a mess. And then trying to figure out mistakes, "I didn't order the salad, she did- well, yeah I ordered it, but it was for her. Oh she already paid and left? well too bad I'm not paying for it." Happens way more than you'd ever think.

It also makes it easier for people to walk out on a check. You think those polite talking mild mannered middle aged people won't ask for a split check and then duck out without paying? Think again. I am so tired of hearing how restaurants are lazy for not splitting checks and so glad i am not a server anymore.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Orisha on August 09, 2010, 12:06:26 PM

$168.51/person for a dinner out?!?

I've never spent that much for a dinner in my life. Doing so as a grad student would have been impossible - that was about 1/3 of my monthly rent, or about 3 weeks of groceries.

I don't mind going out for someone's birthday within reason. Within reason means that there is the option for someone on a tight budget to order separately, or that the venue is chosen with the budget of the most cash strapped member of the party taken into account. In general, graduate students don't go to upscale steak houses unless someone else is paying. Graduate students also rarely order from a wine list.




As a grad student, I agree.  I don't have a problem with going out to dinner to celebrate someone's birthday in principle, even if everyone is paying their own way.  I do think that the restaurant selection should be reasonably priced.  I also think people who order 3x what everyone else has and then expect to split the check evenly are selfish and rude.  The person who ordered a $15 dish and a glass of wine shouldn't be stuck helping to foot the bill for the person who ordered the $30 lobster, multiple mixed drinks and an appetizer.  
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: abbyas on August 09, 2010, 12:54:01 PM
Hello,

Long time-lurker, first time poster.

I'm also in New York City, and had a very similar situation happen.  Large group of people out to dinner with boyfriend and I on very limited budgets.  We ordered no appetizers and stuck to soda, but at the end of the meal was asked to pay for everyone else's appetizers, deserts, limoncellos and champagne.  None of which was offered to be shared.  After we stuck to our guns regarding budget (gently, nicely), we got a lengthy email telling us we had to pony up for everyone and were selfish.

Next year, when the same group sent out invites, we suggested a less expensive restaurant and again were called cheap.  And this isn't the first time this has happened.  It's an epidemic in New York.  I'm with the author 100%.  People just don't think about the situation of everyone around them.  And between 25 and kids, there are these social rules and mores built by people that either never have to worry about money or have eating out much higher on their budget importance than most of everyone else.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: kingsrings on August 09, 2010, 01:22:13 PM
With my group of friends, we set standards for birthday dinner outings, sent in an email to the whole group after a lengthly discussion. But we all knew each other, so that was possible. A lack of communication about what is expected is the culprit here. However, this is a situation of a large group of people who don’t always know each other getting together, so I don’t know how communicating would work. They all have different ideas of how the dinners should be paid for, which is of course causing discord.

Do you think it would work if the invitation included how the payment process would go? Such as it’s all going to be different checks, or everyone’s going to pool their money together on one check? Then nobody would be caught off guard, or order too much, or find themselves subsidizing someone else’s $$ meal when they ordered something much less $$.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: wyliefool on August 09, 2010, 03:29:32 PM
Hello,

Long time-lurker, first time poster.

I'm also in New York City, and had a very similar situation happen.  Large group of people out to dinner with boyfriend and I on very limited budgets.  We ordered no appetizers and stuck to soda, but at the end of the meal was asked to pay for everyone else's appetizers, deserts, limoncellos and champagne.  None of which was offered to be shared.  After we stuck to our guns regarding budget (gently, nicely), we got a lengthy email telling us we had to pony up for everyone and were selfish.

Next year, when the same group sent out invites, we suggested a less expensive restaurant and again were called cheap.  And this isn't the first time this has happened.  It's an epidemic in New York.  I'm with the author 100%.  People just don't think about the situation of everyone around them.  And between 25 and kids, there are these social rules and mores built by people that either never have to worry about money or have eating out much higher on their budget importance than most of everyone else.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.  >:(

If I were to be in this situation, I think I'd just plonk down what I owed and leave it up to everyone else to haggle. That is, I usually remember what I ordered--say, the entree was $15 and the drink $5--and just add tax and tip onto that.

But, I haven't been, luckily.
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Miss Understood on August 09, 2010, 05:04:10 PM
Hello,

Long time-lurker, first time poster.

I'm also in New York City, and had a very similar situation happen.  Large group of people out to dinner with boyfriend and I on very limited budgets.  We ordered no appetizers and stuck to soda, but at the end of the meal was asked to pay for everyone else's appetizers, deserts, limoncellos and champagne.  None of which was offered to be shared.  After we stuck to our guns regarding budget (gently, nicely), we got a lengthy email telling us we had to pony up for everyone and were selfish.

Next year, when the same group sent out invites, we suggested a less expensive restaurant and again were called cheap.  And this isn't the first time this has happened.  It's an epidemic in New York.  I'm with the author 100%.  People just don't think about the situation of everyone around them.  And between 25 and kids, there are these social rules and mores built by people that either never have to worry about money or have eating out much higher on their budget importance than most of everyone else.

I just cannot figure out what is going through people’s minds who act this way.  How can someone think it’s OK to order all kinds of expensive food and drink and expect others to pay for it?  Would they also think it would be OK to go on a shopping trip with a friend and insist on going to the register together and “splitting the bill” even though they had picked out a mink coat and the friend was buying socks?  I know, ridiculous example, but the principle is the same, and the restaurant experiences seem just as indefensible to me.

ETA:  where are my manners?   :)  Welcome abbyas!
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: abbyas on August 09, 2010, 07:49:19 PM
Yeah, we happily bowed out of the gathering the next time around.  It really does seem to be a New York City-young folks habit.  Hence the writer's article.

But thank you for the welcome! 
Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: blarg314 on August 09, 2010, 08:31:07 PM

So it is possible to spend $168 per person.  Which doesn't necessarily make it a good idea.

Exactly. I read reviews in the New York Times, so I know that at a high end restaurant this isn't unusual. It's the idea of proposing a high end restaurant for a pay-your-own-way birthday dinner for people of wildly differing incomes, and then splitting the cost equally regardless of who ordered what. For a lot of people restaurants like this are either totally off the radar, or saved for very special once in a lifetime occasions, not someone else's birthday.

For some people in this sort of situation I think that the fact that people are on budgets simply doesn't register - either they've forgotten their own tight student days, or they've never been in a position where paying an extra $100 at dinner means you don't eat for the rest of the week.


Title: Re: Under no circumstances will I be attending your stupid birthday dinner
Post by: Venus193 on August 09, 2010, 10:57:14 PM
Blarg, this inevitably places some responsibility on the organizer.  S/he should know the rest of the diners' situations well enough to have a little sense in the choice of venue.