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Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

Trials and Travails of ‘Splitting the Bill’

Posted by gratrueities on April 14, 2010

You’ve just enjoyed a wonderful (one hopes!) dinner out with friends and then comes the moment of truth…the bill arrives.

Splitting the bill can, too frequently, be an awkward experience. The practice I’m  most comfortable with is adding in the gratuity and splitting the total by the number of people – then each person/couple/family contributes accordingly, per person. My rationale:  if you are dining as a group, you mostly likely are doing so because you want to do so, you enjoy one another’s company and your expectations regarding the experience and expense involved are fairly consistent.

However, it’s recently come to my attention that not everyone is in agreement on this subject!

From the price of the items ordered to the amount of the tip, there seem to be many points open to question. A recent example…I was in the process of dividing a check and adding a 20% gratuity on the total bill, including tax, when someone asked “why are you tipping on the tax – shouldn’t you just double the tax? That’s what I always do.” (a formula that equated to about 16% where we were dining). This did not become a heated discussion by any means, but it highlights one area of confusion that surrounds splitting the bill – every person has different practices. To further complicate things, if the person figuring the bill is a poor tipper, do you speak up or just quietly bump up the tip at your own expense?

Then consider the “small-orderer” – the person who only orders a salad or appetizer (Worse…just a cup of coffee. Worse yet…just drinks the tap water!) while everyone else orders a meal. Or, the person who doesn’t drink alcohol while the rest of the group swills down cocktails and/or wine. In those instances, it may be more sensitive to tell the person who did not partake to “throw in” whatever they think is fair and split the remaining balance . Since I am never that person who doesn’t indulge, I can’t say for sure – but I think I would still be inclined to want to be included in regular split. This is definitely a case where I know (from experience, unfortunately) not everyone agrees!

Let’s not forget to look at the flip side – the person who decides they want to order every appetizer on the menu, an exotic item (think truffles or lobster) or that pricey bottle of wine – at the everyone else’s expense. Not fair…and there should be consequences! Unless they offer to cover their personal indulgence, they may not want to expect to be included the next time!

These are my only my opinions. I, therefore, decided to do a little research to see what it actually considered customary today. I was happy to see that I am somewhat in line with current thinking…or at least half. A recent FoxBusiness article addressing the etiquette of splitting the check offers opposing arguments:

One opinon: “Times are tight, and if a person or couple orders appetizers, dessert and drank alcohol, and you choose not to, it’s OK to discreetly say, ‘I am going to take care of my end,’” said Elaine Swann, lifestyle and etiquette coach. “But be sure to adequately cover what you ordered, plus tip.”

Arguing for the other side: Mirza Grotts, an etiquette and protocol consultant,  said situations regarding money are already awkward enough, and by asking to individually pay will make matters worse.“Asking for separate checks is very passé, it’s too much work for the waiter and if you have lost your job you probably shouldn’t be going out in the first place,” she said. “Asking for separate checks is very passé, it’s too much work for the waiter and if you have lost your job you probably shouldn’t be going out in the first place,” she said.She said it’s much easier to split the bill evenly, particularly if it’s a friend you go out with repeatedly. “It becomes a wash and will even out in the long run,” she said.

So…my conclusion: Let sensitivity and common sense prevail. If you are dining with friends with whom you socialize regularly, it probably will all even out in the end…just split and make it easy. If you are dining with someone in a difficult financial situation who orders frugally, let them pay accordingly (or better yet, treat them if you have the means and it’s comfortable to do so). If dining with a repeat offender – the “big orderer” who burdens you, make a decision. Bottom line, if you resent the bill split, you probably shouldn’t repeat the circumstances.

Side notes:

Make it clear from the beginning that the check will be split, avoiding unpleasant surprises at the end of the meal.

Do not let the check sit on the table at the end of the meal: Grotts also said it’s rude to let the bill sit on the table when it arrives. “Always be the first to grab the bill, it is embarrassing to let it linger.”

Social situations are distinctly different from a business dinner, in which case the person extending the invitation is expected to pick up the bill.


Posted in Dining experience, Etiquette, Paying the bill, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time to Give Thanks

Posted by gratrueities on November 9, 2009

The holidays are just around the corner and it will soon be time to give thanks to those who have provided us with year-round services. These thanks are traditionally given in the form of a monetary tip or a gift.

In challenging economic times, it’s still important to remember that holiday tipping is about showing appreciation. From the dog walker to the hair dresser, the concierge to the post person, the list of those to thank can get rather long. True, for someone living in New York City the list will most likely be longer than that of someone who lives in, let’s say, Lost Springs, Wyoming.  However, it’s important for us all to plan ahead and even use some creativity to help fulfill our lists without breaking the bank!

To help you remember who to put on your list and determine how to show your appreciation, check out the Holiday Tipping page in Tipipedia!

Posted in Economy, Etiquette, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy Hour…the New “Early Bird” Special?

Posted by gratrueities on November 3, 2009

Could it be?  Is the  *Happy Hour* menu, popular and hip in many  locales, becoming the new “early bird” special? As someone who has always had a problem with some aspects of the “early bird” connotation, I find myself more and more drawn to the happy hour format. Does it simply sound younger, more festive?  Is the economy popularizing this concept further?  How do servers and restaurants feel about the Happy Hour in terms of tips and business?

Posted in Bars, Dining experience, Economy, Pop Culture, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by gratrueities on October 14, 2009

Yes or no – a little of both?

In her recent MSN Money article, The Rude New Tip Jar Economy, Liz Pulliam Weston explores the increasing pressure we feel to tip “more and in more situations than ever before.”

Many of us take pride in being generous tippers and take pleasure in rewarding people for a job well done.  Just as we like to be compensated for our own efforts.

That said, the economic realities of this past year have made most of us more cognizant of the value of our dollars – and possibly both more cautious or more generous, depending on the situation.  We want our tips to have meaning and value, not to merely compensate for deficient wages.

That brings us to the other reality:  most service providers depend on their tips to earn a living wage, leaving them at the mercy of the customer, not all of whom play by the rules of the tipping game.

Therein lies the dilemma. How do service providers earn their due without offending the customer by crossing the line? Tip jars, mandatory service charges, etc. all convey the expectation of a gratuity and, while they bring in money, they can also have a detrimental affect.

People still want to feel they have a choice  – they want their tips to be meaningful, not not judged as lacking and especially not take for granted.

Has the time come to revamp the system?

Posted in Dining experience, Economy, Paying the bill, Pop Culture, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Non’trée…and food for thought

Posted by gratrueities on January 3, 2009

This term  – The Non’trée – caught my eye a few weeks ago in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle.  Coined by servers, it refers to diners who opt to order an appetizer in lieu of the more expensive main course offerings. The  article, Kitchen Cutbacks, confirmed my fears that many Bay Area restaurants are feeling the pinch in these economic times. Even Michael Mina, one of the finest restaurants in San Francisco, is feeling the effects. I hate to think that some of our wonderful restaurants may not survive. 

People are dining more conservatively – they may not order multiple courses, will order a glass of wine rather than a bottle, are ordering less expensive wines, skipping dessert and so forth.  Obviously this translates to lower bills and, therefore, lower tips for the servers – and lower profits for the owners. This is a problem for everyone involved in the restaurant industry.

Still. I feel there are aspects to this trend that are not entirely negative.  First and foremost, the Non’trée diner is still dining out – that alone is something to be thankful for! Also, as the article points out, the fact that restaurants are competing to attract customers may ultimately benefit diners.

Further, as an a occasional Non’trée diner even in the best of times (sometimes the otions are just more appealing than the main courses and sometimes I am just not very hungry!), I hope I’m not being judged for my choices. I like to feel it’s acceptable to go out for a meal without overindulging, a temptation that is often hard to resist, and especially so when there is a subtle pressure to order from every section on the menu along with cocktails and wine. 

Just a little food for thought…as the economy dictates that we cut back on the excess in many areas of our lives, it may lead us to be more selective and make some healthier choices overall.

Posted in Economy, Tipping, Wait Staff | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Tipping–A Hot Topic?

Posted by gratrueities on December 13, 2008

Why is tipping such a hot topic?

It certainly seems like there are conversations going on all over the Internet about tipping etiquette, restaurant tipping, hotel tipping and basically every kind of tipping.

Could it be the economy? One of my theories, which I posted on at GraTRUEities last month,  is that with the bad economy, people are more tuned into tipping.  Do those “tip”  dollars  mean more when money is tight?

Maybe so.

And, it could be the popularity of some recent books including Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica which my  dear business partner, Nancy,  posted on here.

Why do you think so many people are talking about tipping? Is it because of the economy?

Or, just because it’s an endlessly fascinating topic of conversation–which it is!

What do you think?

Let us know!

Posted in Economy, GraTRUEities In Use, Pop Culture, Tipping | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Tipping in the Bad Economy

Posted by gratrueities on November 2, 2008

Hi there…we’ve been wondering; is the economic downturn changing your tipping habits?

Are you tipping less, or, heaven forbid, in some cases, not tipping at all?

Are you changing the way you look at “the tip”, expecting more or expecting less from your service provider; being extra “critical”?

There has been plenty written lately about how the economy is affecting the restaurant biz. It’s been widely noted that the bottom line check total at restaurants is falling. Customers are being more conservative when ordering; skipping appetizers and/or dessert, ordering a glass of wine instead of a bottle, or one bottle instead of two.

I was in New York City this week and talked to a friend of mine who is in the food industry and often eats out. She said that she is still tipping her standard 20% but that overall she is tipping less because she is going out to restaurants less often. Instead she said she is more likely to “grab and go” stopping in for something quick like a hamburger, and then going to the theater, or to an evening event.

On the way to the airport I checked in with the driver from the car service, he said that business is definitely way off—mainly because of the layoffs on Wall Street which were big users of car services.  And, he also said that tips were way down. His company charges a flat charge including the price of the car service, tolls and a 20% tip. He said that about three months ago he started noticing that the “extra” tips were starting to dwindle and now that is something he rarely receives.

Personally, I’ve found myself reacting to the down economy in a mixed fashion. No matter what, I always keep the 20% tip as a standard. For me, the service would need to be downright AWFUL to stray below that level. However, I also feel like I’m more cautious about what I order when dining out and I’m more observant of the food, the service and the overall experience.  If I’m going out to a relatively expensive dinner, in these times, I expect a lot more for my money and am less forgiving when the overall experience doesn’t meet expectations.

How  do you find yourself reacting?

Posted in Economy, Tipping, Travel | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »