Split checks

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themonk
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Split checks

Postby themonk » Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:55 pm UTC

Now, I live in Georgia (USA), yet used to live in Germany.

In Germany, the checks were split without question if we wanted it to be done so - if there was a party of twenty-five or two, there was never a problem. In Georgia, and other places there always seem to be difficulties with this. Why is that?

Can a restaurant truly deny a request for a split check?
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Re: Split checks

Postby Sandry » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:04 pm UTC

themonk wrote:Can a restaurant truly deny a request for a split check?

Prevailing attitude in the US is that this is a pain in the neck, and I think many restaurants don't have useful ways of doing it. When it *is* done without complaint, honestly that's looked on as exceptional customer service.

I think the issue may be that servers aren't accustomed to notating by seat who has what item ordered.

Er, or in Germany did they just do an even split across the whole party? Don't want to make assumptions. :)
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Re: Split checks

Postby Rinsaikeru » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:16 pm UTC

It's just habit of the serving staff--if you want to split the cheque, let them know from the beginning. Going back and sorting out who had what after the fact (when that isn't the cultural expectation) is a pain.
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Re: Split checks

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Tue Oct 12, 2010 11:46 pm UTC

Like the other two have said, it's a royal pain in the ass to go back and separate the checks out, after everything has been totaled up. It's very time-consuming, especially during the "lunch rush" or "dinner rush". It's best to tell the server beforehand that it will be on separate checks. Sure, it means more handwriting (and more data entry in the computer system) for them, but it will be easier in the long run.
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Endless Mike
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Re: Split checks

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:59 am UTC

It may be uncommon in GA, but here in DC we do it all the time. Very rarely is it an issue.

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Re: Split checks

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:28 am UTC

I've split checks quite often, but I've always had the understanding that you tell them about it beforehand.
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Re: Split checks

Postby ThomasS » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:36 am UTC

In Germany they will often split the check by asking each person what they ordered, adding up (by hand, at the table) an individual food or beer bill, and checking it off the main bill. I have seen some places in which they have a pda/smartphone type bill manager payment accessory for this, but in general the waitstaff is trusted to be able to add. I'm not sure whether this would work in the US. The European standard of including sales tax in all prices does make it easier.

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Re: Split checks

Postby Phasma Felis » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:58 am UTC

I've lived in Kentucky for going on 20 years and not had many problems with split checks, nor ever seen a restaurant try to refuse one.

Going to a restaurant with a group of 25 and not giving them the details ahead of time is kind of a dick move, though. That's gonna cause a huge hassle for both customers and waitstaff, so I wouldn't be totally surprised if they got cranky about it.

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Re: Split checks

Postby OBrien » Wed Oct 13, 2010 7:44 am UTC

When I'm at a restaurant with friends we tend to just work out how much we owe ourselves, then ask to pay x amount on cash, y amount on this card, z amount on this card... it's usually not a problem but if it is we'll just owe one person who'll pay it all.
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Re: Split checks

Postby Ulc » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:04 pm UTC

OBrien wrote:When I'm at a restaurant with friends we tend to just work out how much we owe ourselves, then ask to pay x amount on cash, y amount on this card, z amount on this card... it's usually not a problem but if it is we'll just owe one person who'll pay it all.


That's the way we do it around here too.

Basically, they give us the check, and we collect on a plate, if people don't have cash on them (usually, at least half of the people haven't) they just tell the server that they want to pay a certain amount out of the total check on their card, then the next in line does the same.
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Re: Split checks

Postby Converge » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:10 pm UTC

I live in Ga as well and I have never ever had this problem. Whereabouts do you live? I live pretty close to metro Atlanta so I don't know what part that would play in it but any time any one of my friends has asked if they could split the check it was done without a comment(Unless it was out of earshot).

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Re: Split checks

Postby Zohar » Wed Oct 13, 2010 12:40 pm UTC

In Israel we just calculate what each of us needs to pay. I never thought of asking for different checks for different people.
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Re: Split checks

Postby TheKrikkitWars » Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:31 pm UTC

Well, I've always split the check "manually" at the table (whilst someone in the back is hopefully harnessing the bistromathmatical power we're creating), but where possible I pay for drinks as and when they're requested, makes life much simpler.
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Re: Split checks

Postby Kang » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:38 pm UTC

Sorry about this one, but I need to get this stupid joke out of my system now:
Make sure you thought about where the future border should be when you ask for seperate Czechs.

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Re: Split checks

Postby OBrien » Wed Oct 13, 2010 5:39 pm UTC

TheKrikkitWars wrote:where possible I pay for drinks as and when they're requested, makes life much simpler.

Especially if there's been a large quantity of drinks, I would assume. I may have to start doing this...
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Re: Split checks

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Wed Oct 13, 2010 9:30 pm UTC

It varies from location to location here. Most fairly large, somewhat classy places seem to use an automated system that makes it very easy - orders are submitted to the kitchen on a seat-by-seat basis using a terminal. Tap-tap-tap, print by seat, done. Also means the person taking the order, and the one serving the food, can be completely different and they still don't need to ask who ordered what, which it kinda cool. Mom&Pop type places generally ring everything through a till only when you go to pay anyways, so it's pretty easy in that case as well.

It's only the restaurants that fall in between where it's something of an issue, and Denny's already knows what to expect when a gaggle of people show up at 2:30am :P
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Re: Split checks

Postby Rinsaikeru » Wed Oct 13, 2010 10:21 pm UTC

At Denny's once in the middle of the lunch rush (about 12:30pm) I saw a group of 20 people trying to pay.

They had not requested split bills in the beginning. Some wanted to pay in American money (I'm in Canada), some wanted to pay Canadian, two wanted to debit their portion. The poor waitress.
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Re: Split checks

Postby serhina » Thu Oct 14, 2010 12:26 am UTC

What we usually do is ask if we can get separate checks, if we can then great. If not, at a place where we take the check up to the register ourselves, we'll just tell the person there which items each of us is paying for and they run it separately. If the waiter/waitress takes the check and money from the table, we'll write down the separate payments--if the check has the orders split up by seats, we just write the name on the card next to the seat (or write "cash" if you pay in cash). If it's not split like that, we just each add up the total we owe and then write that total next to the name on the card.

The only time we've ever really run into an issue was once when we forgot to figure in the included gratuity, but the waitress just came back and told us we still owed some and we figured it out from there. They've always been really cool about working with us. Probably doesn't hurt that we're all pretty easygoing and no one gets angry with them, and that we do tend to tip a bit extra for them having to deal with our large groups :)

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Re: Split checks

Postby Armadillo Al » Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:53 pm UTC

I've never had a problem. In fact, every time I've gone to a restaurant with a group bigger than four or so, they usually ask us as we're being seated whether we want separate checks.
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Re: Split checks

Postby amorya » Thu Oct 14, 2010 2:01 pm UTC

I've never thought to ask the restaurant to do that. If I'm with a smallish group, we just split it ourselves, put all the cash in the middle, and anyone who wants to pay by card says "Take £15 off this one please" or whatever. If I'm with a big group (10-20 people) it tends to be expected that we'll pay by cash, so everyone throws in approximately what they owe, someone adds it up, and if there's a deficit they call for everyone to put in a bit more. It's not exact but it usually works well enough.

Only time I get problems is if someone decides that to make things easier we'll all going to split the bill evenly. That's not as much of a problem if they say so first, but if they try that after we've all eaten I find myself thinking "You bastard! I was drinking tap water to save money."

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Re: Split checks

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:44 pm UTC

One thing I remembered while rereading this post:

Nowadays most table checks are printed up via computer. It wouldn't be all that difficult to split it up as it would be for someone who still does it the old-fashioned way.

That being said, what I've done in the past is stand in line with my party, if we paid at a register, and individually say "I had the such-and-such and this and that..." and the cashier would ring up those items, total it out, and we paid that amount. It still came out to be the same.
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Re: Split checks

Postby ThomasS » Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:One thing I remembered while rereading this post:
Nowadays most table checks are printed up via computer. It wouldn't be all that difficult to split it up as it would be for someone who still does it the old-fashioned way.

You need an interface that is really designed to pick out what each person ate and give that total. You also need a waitstaff practiced with using it. If the prices include all taxes (e.g., in Europe) then even with a good interface it could easily be faster to simply add up each bill by hand. I mean, how long does it take to add up 2-3 numbers, each 1-2 digits?

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Re: Split checks

Postby ravenpen » Wed Nov 24, 2010 7:47 pm UTC

The back-and-forth between having some restaurants willing/able to do this and others not has caused myself and most of my friends to just divide things evenly.

Unless someone ordered a great deal more food or ordered a bunch of drinks disproportionate to the rest of the group, then for the most part people are willing to just shrug off the monetary difference. If you go out with the same folks often enough it generally ends up balancing out over time.

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Re: Split checks

Postby jerome_bc » Wed Nov 24, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

I'm in Montreal and split check is the norm, except in certain chinese restaurants (dim sum and such where everyone shares the food). When eating out with my extended family it's not rare that the waiter will ask how to split, since often the parents will pay for their kids, and there has never been a problem splitting checks by families, even with weird seating arrangements ("so I'll pay for the two of us, plus the boy over there and the girl over there", etc.)

It makes life easier when going on dates, and makes it that much easier to avoid the "the man should pay" trope. It's assumed that each will pay their own bill, but I can also easily pick up their check if I want to.

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Re: Split checks

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Nov 26, 2010 10:55 pm UTC

ThomasS wrote:You need an interface that is really designed to pick out what each person ate and give that total. You also need a waitstaff practiced with using it. If the prices include all taxes (e.g., in Europe) then even with a good interface it could easily be faster to simply add up each bill by hand. I mean, how long does it take to add up 2-3 numbers, each 1-2 digits?

Just about all of the POS systems for the front of the house use seat numbers for ordering, and it's not hard to separate out the individual tickets. It does take a few more minutes of training, and the understanding that if you ask it's going to be done. I suspect many places who refuse this have had problems with part of a group walking out without actually paying their share. Or they hire staff too stupid to use a POS system correctly.
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Re: Split checks

Postby the_bandersnatch » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:10 am UTC

Cheque.

Repeat after me: cheque.
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Re: Split checks

Postby Thesh » Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:24 am UTC

Yeah, we fixed the spelling of that word a long time ago. We still have a long way to go before fixing all spellings in the English language.
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