How do you splt the bill?

Sep 3rd, 2007, 01:20 PM
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How do you splt the bill?

Three couples will be traveling together within Italy for 2 weeks in October. We would like some practical ideas on how to split the bill at meals. One person eats very little and another doesn't drink alcohol. When we go out together at home we divide the bill three ways. I know people say that it will all even out in the end, but I am afraid it may create hard feelings. We are good friends and want to make things fair. How have you done it?
rpowell is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Each couple should get their own checks and pay for themselves.

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dandj is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 01:28 PM
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Appoint a comptroller who keeps common funds for all common expenses. Put in 200E each at first and have that person pay. Actually, I would find 6 jobs to assign. There is the primary driver, the navigator and map keeper, the historian, the librarian---you get the idea. Nobody gets a free ride and keeps everyone involved. Guess which job I always had.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 01:31 PM
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Ditto dandj. It's a no-brainer.
hopscotch is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:11 PM
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Thanks for the input. Often wait staff are put out if a group asks for separate checks. What is the general feeling in Italy? We don't want the Ugly American label.
rpowell is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:18 PM
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Separate checks are not a problem so long as you make it clear when ordering your meal. It can be a lot of bother for staff if you leave it to the end before asking.
Padraig is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:18 PM
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We go out with 2 other couples a lot and always split the bill 3 ways. Of course, we all know each other and basically we all drink alcohol (a lot) and all basically eat about the same (also a lot.) Nothing stands out such as you mention, eating very little and not drinking alcohol.
DinPa is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:24 PM
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after dividing, round down the share of the 2 who eat/drink less (maybe to the nearest 5 or 10 euros) and round up for everyone else.
MademoiselleFifi is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:32 PM
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Author: dandj
Date: 09/03/2007, 04:25 pm
Each couple should get their own checks and pay for themselves.

IMO, and being in the restaurant business, get a calculator and figure it out, you will be way more welcome if you are NOT asking for separate checks, UNLESS, you sit separately!!!!!
richardsonsnm is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:41 PM
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Each couple pays for their meals but have a common fund for wine etc., unless there is a "heavy" drinker.
kp is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:43 PM
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I'm with you rpowell. Sometimes I am hesitant to ask for separate checks, even in the USA. We did it once in Venice (about 5 couples) & no problem - white tablecloth restaurant at lunch. But don't know if that is the case everywhere in Italy.

My husband & I do not drink alcohol & often only drink water with our meals. We also do not usually order the expensive items on a menu. I never liked it on those many business trips when the bills were "equally" divided & I helped to pay for others' booze. So, DH & I don't equally divide checks with our friends (we sometimes choose to "treat" our friends, but that is another issue).

Also consider that on your trip, there may be occasions when some folks are not very hungry, so they probably will not want to pay equal share?

I suggest that someone, maybe the non-drinker, accept this assignment. Keeping in mind that the check may not itemize the orders, the Check Chief can write down the menu price of each person/couple's order. Or, just the order of the "odd" couple - if the other 2 couples are fairly equal in food & drinks. Then when the check arrives, the Check Chief rounds up to the nearest euro for each couple (the excess can be a tip), collects, and counts to be sure total is adequate. After counting all of the money, the Check Chief can advise if each couple needs to put in more for tip (if each couple desire to leave more tip).

I salute all of you for addressing this issue in advance. It always seems so strange to me when people will discuss some very personal info, but are so hesitant to talk about money!

Have you talked about not always staying together? We found that helpful. It is important for everyone to know that he/she will not be "attached to the hip" of the group for every waking moment; acknowledge that "own space/interests" is allowed.

Have a great trip, Julie
Julie_Hurst is offline  
Sep 3rd, 2007, 03:45 PM
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Hit "post" too early.
Another option is to have each couple take turns buying bottles of wine for the table.
kp is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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If you can't get separate checks for some reason, use a pencil and paper to add up what each couple owes. Shouldn't take more than one or two minutes, even without a calculator or an Excel spreadsheet.
Jake1 is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 07:19 AM
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If your totals are usually significantly unequal, then agree now to have separate bills. It will save bad feelings later. That's what we did.
Jed is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Each couple figures out what they owe & put in that amount... either by everyone having cash or by one person using a credit card and the other two paying them their portion.

Easy enough to jot down approximately what the costs of your own entrees and beverages are and pony up that amount for the check.

I do not think spliting 3 ways is fair especially when someone does not drink alcohol. I will NOT "even out in the end" in that scenario. As a big wine drinker, this would make me very uncomfortable, knowing someone who does not drink was getting stuck paying for part of my wine!!!

If that's too complicated, how about rotating who pays, 1 couple gets the entire bill one time, the next/the next. If you eat a similarly priced places every day, that method would have things working out fairly in the end.

suze is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 08:24 AM
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When we travel with friends who tend to eat/drink as we do - then we just split the bill. But when we have traveled with friends who drink/eat less - then usually we agree ahead of time to split the dinner bills (it's just easier) and then DH and I "treat" them to a couple of lunches or a snacks or whatever during the trip to make up the difference. Do we come out even....maybe not exactly, but it's close enough to make everyone happy.
Grcxx3 is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 09:10 AM
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My experience in Italy is that restaurants do not like to/will not split bills. Just estimate how much everyone should kick in when the bill arrives.

Whatever you decide, find a solution before the trip starts to prevent any hard feelings during vacation. This shouldn't be an issue if all three couples are good friends.
BigBlueMarble is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 09:35 AM
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In a group of 6, one person will usually have a 'head for numbers'. My husband is like that. He can look at a menu while people are ordering and basically knows what everyone owes. (It's a weird 'gift', I know.) With our friends and family, people just hand him the bill and tell him to tell them what they owe. He takes care of paying the bill, leaving tip and returns anything where someone overpaid. Would someone in your group take this responsibility? (It's usually the same person who calculates the exchange rate - sometimes annoyingly - everywhere you go.)

We never divide the bill evenly because, thus far, we don't seem to eat with anyone that has similar tastes - one couple order every course, plus cocktails, wine with dinner and a brandy after; another eat progressively bigger meals during the day from very small breakfasts to gigantic dinners, another couple do the opposite, one woman we travel with eats one meals a day, but likes to sit with us when we eat; a single guy eats nothing but meat (seriously!) and drinks pots and pots of chamomile tea. After reading the answers to your post, I'm thinking I may be on the look out for a new set of friends where everyone eats the same as we do!

Although we also ask for separate bills in Canada and U.S. if we are with people who like it better that way, I wouldn't do that in Italy. However, I could see where it would get tricky if everybody wants to use credit cards to pay for meals. We never do.

Let us know what you figure out and how it works. It may help someone else with a similar problem.
rickmav is offline  
Sep 4th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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Asking the waiter to split the bill, trying to do the math at the table after having wine for dinner, having each couple estimate what they owe and put it in-- all seem cumbersome, unpleasant and fraught with error potential.

I think it might be best to keep a running tab, that you settle up whenever it suits you. Maybe have each couple take turns paying the entire bill for group outings. Keep all the receipts, keep a tally, and add up who has spent how much and who owes who at the end. That method has worked for us. It will be clean, documented, and less prone to create ill-feelings.
Sep 4th, 2007, 09:53 AM
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I have heard of math phobia, but I never thought of adding up a few numbers as cumbersome, unpleasant, or fraught with error potential.
Jake1 is offline  

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