Who picks up the bill? As an etiquette expert this is a question I receive frequently. What’s the answer? Quite simply: Consider your audience and follow the advice below.
: The social rule is: The person who asks is the person who pays. Back in the days when men always did the asking – of course this rule was easy to follow. Now, women are not intimidated to ask and therefore a man should not be afraid to allow her to pay. I always tell women, “If a man asks you on a first-date and wants to split the check, consider that your red-flag warning.” If he wants to go “Dutch-treat” – he should tell his date in advance.
: The parents always pay for the meal until the young adult is gainfully employed. At this point the young adult should always ask to pay at least his part of the bill and occasionally insist on paying the entire tab for his or her parents. If you are a grown adult with a family of your own – pay your own bill! (Unless your parents insist – don’t insult their thoughtfulness)
If you are out with extended family discuss who is paying in advance, or insist on separate checks so everyone feels comfortable ordering whatever they choose.
: This can be a sticky situation if your boss does not have a consistent paying policy. Most often if company groups are out together the company foots the bill, but always be prepared just incase you have to pay your own tab. Warning: For whatever reason, do not agree to put the entire tab on your personal credit card with the intent that everyone will pay you back. Good luck getting all your money back – it will backfire more times than not.
Friends or Co-Workers
: Again, do not whip out the ol’ credit card and tell everyone to pay you later. And beware of the person who says. “Oh, I’ll pay for dinner next time.”
Here’s the best scenario: Ask the waiter for separate checks in advance. You will be glad you did not split the check when you see the bottle of 1865 Chateau Lafite delivered to the table along with Beluga caviar.
: This is the bill you always pay in its entirety. The customer should be treated like they are the most important person you know. Pay for their meals, drinks, valet, coat-check and anything else that comes up. This is a small investment for a potential big payoff. It is acceptable to inform your waiter you would like to pay the check in advance. This way you only have to add the gratuity and there is not an awkward moment when the check arrives. This shows not only your kindness, but also your preparedness and take-charge mentality.
: Add gratuity on the subtotal of the bill – do not tip on the tax total. If you have bad service, speak to the restaurant manager, before you leave less than 15% gratuity. This way you do not look like the person who is stiffing the waiter and they deserve to know how to improve their service.
Handling details in advance makes for a no surprise dining experience whether you are there for personal or professional purposes.
Manners always matter!
Joy Weaver is a renowned etiquette expert and author of “Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations”—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy represents designer Joseph Ribkoff and is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas. She is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and The Dallas Business Journal. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. You can learn more at www.justaskjoy.com
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