Person Loses $30 In Order To Discover Their Friends Are Not Really Their Friends
The discourse on splitting the bill seems to be never-ending. It’s true, there is a certain etiquette when going out with people. You can either split the bill equally, each pay for what you ordered or just treat your friends. But what do you do when you all decide to split it and it’s your friend that is refusing to pay you back?
This Reddit user was in a similar dilemma. And all for $30. The user isababyxxx went on to r/EntitledPeople to ask for advice on what to do in this situation. And the Internet delivered.
Going out with friends can sometimes result in misunderstandings about who is paying
Image credits: Inga Seliverstova (not the actual photo)
This Redditor learned the hard way that friends might not always pay you back
Image credits: Alex Green (not the actual photo)
Image credits: isababyxxx
Image credits: ELEVATE (not the actual photo)
OP’s story isn’t a rare occurrence among groups of friends. I’m sure we’ve all had these awkward situations where it’s not entirely clear who pays. Or, at least, who pays what amount?
Daniel Post Senning, co-author of “Emily Post Etiquette, The Centennial Edition,” tells CNBC Make It that the conversation should be had as soon as possible. The last thing you want, according to him, is to have to make the decision when the check arrives at the table.
He proposes several scripts for those kinds of situations. “Hey, I’m wondering how we’re planning to split this up – anyone have any ideas?” Or, “I’m going to keep things really small tonight, so I’m going to ask for a separate check.”
But things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes the bill can get uneven as the evening progresses. Another etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman, says then it’s important to address the server, not your friends.
“Don’t look at your friends or your neighbor at the table,” she advises. “Say, ‘I’m covering these two’ – that way you’re telling the server, not the table.”
This was probably the fatal flaw in OP’s story. Even if the friends spoke about splitting the check evenly the night before, someone should’ve spoken up after the server approached the table with the bill. “The key to good etiquette is good communication,” Daniel Post Senning says.
Image credits: Karolina Grabowska (not the actual photo)
What do you do in cases where friends did not split the bill and one person in the group picked up the whole check? Then there’s the question of when to pay your friend back: immediately at the restaurant, by the end of the day, week, month…?
Etiquette expert Thomas Farley encourages people to settle as soon as possible. He writes: “People probably have their phones out anyway,” he says. “You can pay while you’re walking out of the restaurant. Get it off your plate, off your mind, and pay it right away.”
Daniel Post Senning claims that the “sweet spot” is to pay the person before they ask you. Asking friends to pay you back, as we’ve seen from our OP’s story, is never pleasant. “The money gets returned before it becomes an imposition on the person who lent it,” adds Senning.
YouTube creator Tiffany Ferguson recently covered this topic on her channel, in her internet analysis video called “‘splitting the bill’ discourse and transactional friendships.” She made a survey for her audience and got over 12k responses.
The majority (81.1%) of the respondents said they would pay back the person immediately, whether in cash or through a money transfer app. 16% percent of the respondents from the YouTube audience would insist on paying back the person until the next morning.
Although the sample of this survey is relatively small and may reflect only a tiny subsection of the American middle-class, we can still draw some conclusions. People do prefer to settle as soon as possible – whether they’re on the receiving or the giving end. Of course, it’s important to take into account that every person’s financial situation is different. So let’s tackle that next.
Image credits: cottonbro studio (not the actual photo)
One other aspect of this story is that these three friends are in different financial situations. If you’re the person in the group who’s not as well-off as the others, you have to take control of your situation. At least that’s what Farnoosh Torabi, a personal finance expert and editor-at-large for CNET Money told Today.
“Don’t cross your fingers and hope that people can read your mind and know you need to save,” she advised. Take action and ask for separate checks or excuse yourself and discreetly go to the server and pay your half.
“Everyone at that table is coming with their own money narrative and what it means to break bread with friends,” Torabi told Today. “Some people would extrapolate that everyone shares in everyone else’s cost too. Whether you think that’s right or wrong, over the meal is not the time to debate it.”
Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert with The Protocol School of Texas in San Antonio told Real Simple that friends should be comfortable enough to have these conversations. “After the conversation, there will be an understanding, and everything will fall into place,” she said.