Separate checks

Old Feb 17th, 2014, 02:28 PM
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Separate checks

My sister will be traveling with 3 other women and their custom is get separate checks at restaurants. I am totally unfamiliar whether this is done or not done in Italy, what is your experience?

Thank you.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 03:22 PM
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don't know about Italy but when I am with friends we split the check BUT when I'm with friends who don't drink I ask for a separate check as I drink and they shouldn't have to pay for that
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 04:14 PM
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IMHO this should not be done anywhere. How difficult is it to just split it 4 ways and keep a running tab. Or take turns paying the bill. If one person drinks a lot and another eats nothing - I ges that could be a problem - but why should wait staff have to deal with 4 different credit cards - making change 4 times?

(I have traveled to europe with family, friends or colleagues many times - and we always figure a way around this - depending on the circumstances. If any of the member of the group is so worried that they might be out a euro or two - they will probably make a miserable traveling companion.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 04:26 PM
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i really don't think that is common. i would think they can work it out among themselves...so agree with last comment of nytraveler.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 04:31 PM
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Suggest your sister read this classic thread:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...d-sorrento.cfm

Splitting checks is just one thing to think about!
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 04:37 PM
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I would say that it is not common, and ought not to be done. I agree with nytraveler and Lois2.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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I've only been to Italy w/ my ex or solo so splitting checks was never an issue. But in other countries (I'm most familiar w/ the UK) I've visited it is a terrible idea.

Plus - w/ no tax added like happens in the States, anyone should be able to work out what each person owes. What the menu says it what the item costs.

I have a trip report that has lots of angst about separate checks - - it os a very long thread but here is just one example . . .

>><i><blue>On Sundays they do set meals - either 2 or 3-course w/ or w/o Bellini cocktails so only 4 prices plus any extra drinks. (though they comped our Bellinis). This is where I discovered that one of our little group is the "separate check nazi". Only a slight exaggeration. She is the most well off of any of us - and now I know how she made her $$ - she never pays one cent (or pence) more than her share. I tried to explain (Nicely - honest ) that split checks - especially for a party of 6 - isn't really the norm. She'd have none of it. I tried to explain (REALLY nicely - honest ) that there is no added sales tax like back home and service was included so since we were ALL having a two course set meal plus some extra drinks it would be very VERY easy to figure out what everyone owed. Nope - not good enough. So I called our waiter aside and quietly explained that we'd really appreciate it if he could split our tab. He said "sure, no problem - I THINK my manager knows how to do that.". Well - it took three staffers nearly 20 minutes fighting w/ the register to divide our bill. And the upshot - each and every one of us spent the same amount, had exact change and none used their credit cards. So why exactly did we need separate checks??? (I paid for the carafes of sparkling water since I figured that might cause a stink) And of course, we then had to practically run to the theatre. This would be the first of many times we faced the same sort of separate checks problem</i></blue><<
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 05:37 PM
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When traveling with friends, we take turns putting the bills on our credit cards, but ask one person to keep track of things and we settle up any big differences by the couple who owes the most paying the next tab, or at the end of every week. Works fine.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 06:34 PM
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Thanks for the answers, people are even now being gauche in NYC regarding splitting bills. This is becoming in business due to financial constraint and the disproportionate amount of authority given to the rice and bean counters.

The problem is that two women drink and two women do not. And the custom among them now is get separate bills. I think it is more common in areas inhabited by seniors.

I have warned my sister about traveling with others and this trip is extremely important to her. She has only been to Europe once and is afraid of the language and cultural differences plus crime.

We have given her tips about traveling but.....
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 06:55 PM
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Italians would consider it a huge inconvenience and probably let you know that.I don't like to piss off wait staff in foreign countries,so I would suggest your sister and her friends find another way to pay their restaurant bills.It's not rocket science divvying up a three-way bill.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 07:28 PM
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St Cirq-I will pass on your admonition.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 07:42 PM
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They might do it or they might not. Why not go with an agreed option in hand to deal with it if the server will not split the bill? Walk away, making a scene with the waiter, or an option acceptable to both parties, or whatever? Also on drinking. Are they assuming that if two women drink and others don't in Italy, the two drinkers would add more to the bill than the non drinkers? If two drinkers share a pitcher of house wine, which are usually pretty good in Italy, and the others get soft drinks, the ones who drank soft drinks would probably add just as much or even more to the bill. They are not in the U.S.
For people traveling together, splitting restaurant bill would be just one of many cost sharing issues. I hope they have thought out key issues beyond restaurants.
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 08:19 PM
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It seems the other women drink more than wine.

They have discussed interests, what they want to do and see, what type of hotels, modes of transportation, and how to split up for a day if they want to do different things.

I have made suggestions as to make the money easier for the day, the differences in transportation, food, tickets for museums, day trips,and the culture in general. I believe they are more shoppers and major tourist sight types than museum goers and back alley restaurants habitues.

I am going to suggest that they use a calculator that I am sure one or all will have on some electronic devise. Janisj confirmed my suspicions. The Italians are very generous when you try to speak their language and if their command was greater, I suppose a place here or there would be accommodating, but since that is not the case, it will probably cause more problems.

And thank you again for the true life tales of woe.

One time my wife and I went to London with my mother and when we returned to the States, the customs official asked the usual questions and when I explained the situation, he waved me through and said, "You've had enough already."
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Old Feb 17th, 2014, 08:59 PM
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I am not sure how often the group has spent time each other in a setting where they got presented with sharing cost, time, space, and interest several times a day as well as day after day. While they can split up at times, that is not possible for all instances. With this many people in a party, people can change mind at the last minutes depending on a whim or when one gets tired, does not want to wake up early, etc. all impacting whatever cost sharing arrangement people might have thought of. The "this is why I will always travel solo" trip report is a reminder of how sour a group trip can become.
I presume the trip is imminent, so there is no opportunity for a short trial balloon trip to test the group dynamics if they have not done this before. A trip has inherently unpredictable elements and one often gains insights into how others really behave due to the needs to make many decisions on a fly. Sometimes one gets pleasantly surprised and sometimes the other way.
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Old Feb 18th, 2014, 02:45 AM
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If you do decide to ask for separate bills -- anywhere -- it is helpful to ask the waiter before you order.
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Old Feb 18th, 2014, 03:02 AM
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I've never asked for separate checks in Italy (and hardly ever in most other places, including the US). But I agree that you should ask first. And here's my advice if the wait person makes a big deal about it: leave. As a customer, I refuse to be intimidated by the people who want my business but are discourteous.

Funny thing about southern Italy: In several family-owned restaurants, after the meal, the waiter wouldn't even present us with a bill. Instead he'd say something like "Oh, it's 15 euros a person." Instant separate checks.
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Old Feb 18th, 2014, 03:41 AM
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"And here's my advice if the wait person makes a big deal about it: leave. As a customer, I refuse to be intimidated by the people who want my business but are discourteous."

And here's my advice. If a customer makes an unreasonable request,politely surcharge him.

All self-respecting businesses should refuse to be intimidated by "customers" who want their indulgences pandered to at the expense of looking after real clients.
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Old Feb 18th, 2014, 03:58 AM
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IMDonehere,

One thing I like to have available when dining out (on either side of the pond) is plenty of smaller bills/ change along with larger bills. It makes splitting a check so much easier.

Before leaving the hotel in the morning, I often change larger bills into smaller amounts at the front desk. Makes it easier in the day’s travel…
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Old Feb 18th, 2014, 04:08 AM
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I can see that it might be necessary to have separate checks if two people are traveling for business and their accounting departments are very particular. I've never been in this situation in Italy, but I know that separate checks are not done here.

As others have said, there's no tax added, and no percentage tip to be calculated, so I don't see how it can be a problem. If there's a 10% service charge, each person adds 10% to what she owes. If there's a "pane e coperto" charge, that get's split four ways. One of them can bring a calculator and figure it out.

You would definitely have to ask for separate checks before ordering, but I strongly advise you not to do it. Many restaurants now use hand-held computers to take the orders and the whole thing ends up tied to the tax records, so once the order has been placed, it might very well be impossible. It's possibly even difficult if you ask before ordering, because the table number is shown on the printout, and it might not be possible to have duplicates.

The heavy drinkers are going to have another shock. Restaurants in Italy don't serve martinis or other cocktails or liquor with meals. The most they can get in a tiny aperitivo (often bubbly) before the meal and a tiny digestivo (limoncello or the like) afterwards. Often these are offered by the house. With the meal, it will be wine or beer.

We often dine with friends who drink wine, and we don't. Also, my husband and I usually split a second course, and I often have an appetizer instead of first course. We always divide the bill equally anyway. Call it the price of friendship.
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Old Feb 18th, 2014, 04:09 AM
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I'm with Flanner on this one. I suppose that four separate tables wouldn't work, but why share a table for four? Plonk the drinkers on a table of their own.
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