Should a Group Ask for One Bill or Separate Bills at a Restaurant?

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 26th Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Restaurants

One bill for a group of people at the restaurant in my opinion is never a good thing. There will always be somebody who will complain about being charged more than he or she ate or drank.


I have a group of women friends and now and then we like to go out for an outing together. It is an all woman social usually ending up with supper at a restaurant some place.

Rita organizes the activities. The group started about 20 years ago when Rita had a singles group. She has long since dissolved that group but she made many friends from it. Out the bigger group the woman's night only group was born. Rita calls all of us up and sees who is available for a particular outing.

Her friend Jenny

Now it stands to reason that since she is inviting her friends you might go and sometimes you don't know some of the people there and sometimes you meet old friends. However there is usually a core group of regulars that you see most of the time.

Now Rita is a nurse and she has a friend who is also a nurse named Jenny. On my own I would never have befriended Jenny. She is just not the type of person I want to be around, but she is Rita's friend, and she came on most of the outings as a regular.

Normally there is at least six women who attend these outing coming from all walks of life and financial status. If the outing looks like it will be too expensive for me, I opt out and wait for the next one - but not Jenny.

She will go anyway and she will complain how she is not making much money. We have heard over and over again that she is only working part-time. Many times she bullies the five other women into going to different places than they wanted to because she doesn't have the money (why couldn't she just stay home like me I wonder!).

Anyhow, when it comes to sitting down to the meal, the custom in our group was to ask for one bill. We were each responsible for paying our own meal and tipping accordingly. It always worked out; err unless Jenny was there.

Separate bills

Whenever Jenny was around there was always a big production. She would calculate her portion of the bill and complain that Rita overcharged her and if that didn't work she would insinuate that the rest of us were paying less than our portion causing her to have to pay more.

Rita, always level headed and calm would recalculate the bill and sure enough it was right. Jenny would still argue with Rita; if everyone paid their rightful share then the waiter had to have made a mistake on her bill and overcharged her. Each time she checked with the waiter and each time she was wrong.

I was getting pretty aggravated by her behaviour having had to sit through it time and again.
The straw that broke the camel's back happened when there were only four of us present in the restaurant; Rita, Jenny, Debbie, and myself.

Rita and Jenny are drinkers while Debbie and I are not.

Debbie and I took a meal valued at 12.95 each.
Rita and Jenny took a meal at 18.95 each.
Rita ordered four beers at 3.00 a glass, for an additional 12 dollars on the bill.
Jenny ordered 3 rum and coke at 5.50 each for an additional 16.50

Now anyone with a brain can calculate Rita's total bill was 18.95 + 12.00= 30.95 and Jenny's bill, (may I remind you she is the lady that is always complaining she doesn't have any money), came to 18.95 + 16.50= 35.45.

It is now time to pay the bill; Debbie and I pay ours, adding the appropriate tax and tip. But Jenny is not happy, she is outraged, she says there is no way she would pay that bill. There was a mistake. If she had known it was going to cost that much she would never have agreed to come, after all she is only working part time you know!

Rita tells her if she is short she will gladly lend her the extra money, but that was not good enough for Jenny, she was not going to pay that bill.

She accused Rita of making a mistake in adding her portion of the bill while grabbing the bill away from her so she could do the calculating herself. According to Jenny both she and Rita ordered the exact same meal so why is she paying over five dollars more?

Rita explains that the meal was not the same, as Rita ordered beer and she ordered rum and coke. The beer was only three dollars each while the rum and coke was 5.50 each.
Still she argues, "I only ordered two rum and coke so it is still wrong and I am not paying this."

The three of us, Rita, Debbie and myself tell her she ordered three rum and coke. She yells that she should know what she drank.

Debbie and I sat there listening to the two of them argue over the bill for another five minutes.
Jenny is really in a huff, she says, "I simply am not paying this large bill it is a mistake I drank two rum and coke not three and I am not paying for an extra one that I did not drink." She calls the waiter over to check the bill.

I cannot speak for Rita, but Debbie and I were very embarrassed at this point and we just wanted to get out of that restaurant.

I cannot speak for Rita, but Debbie and I were very embarrassed at this point and we just wanted to get out of that restaurant.

The waiter comes over, recalculated the bill, and told her it was right. She rants on about only having two rum and coke not three.

He tells her she did indeed have three.

She still doesn't believe it.

He points to the glasses left on the table (as he had not yet cleared the table). It was a very busy restaurant.

She looks and says it must be a mistake. She points to the glass closest to me and says, "This glass must belong to the lady to my right."

At this point I jump in and say, "Jenny, neither I nor Debbie ordered anything to drink only you and Rita did."

Well she was stuck, she has to pay that bill and she knew it. Yet, she continues to grumble about it, saying it still is not right. One of us must not have put in our share and she is not going to give a tip. After all, she is the one who is paying the most this night and she does not see why she has to.

Now we know that woman will not put in a tip and we know she gave all of us a hard time including the poor waiter, and we know that Rita will be stuck to pay her tip.

So Debbie and I offer an additional two dollars each toward her portion of the tip and Rita put in the same, all we wanted to do was get out of there. Jenny ruined our evening with her theatrics one more time.

Once I got home I thought long and hard about the never-ending scenes with Jenny.
The next day I called Rita and told her what I thought of Jenny's behavior. Rita defended her as usual, after it was her friend.

I had had enough. I said to Rita, "she is your friend I know it, and I can't tell you not to invite her to come to your outings, but what I can do is tell you the next time and every time after when we go to the restaurant I want separate bills. If she has a problem with her bill she is on her own, but I am not going through this aggravation anymore."

Once or twice after I put my foot down, Jenny complained about the bill to the waiter and each time she was wrong and had to pay. Only now she couldn't accuse anybody else of not paying their share at the table.

Eventually she just stopped complaining and paid the bill as it came to her. I don't know why Rita never thought of separate bills from the beginning instead of asking for one bill all the time. It was so much easier after that.

All photos taken from the public domain

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Dinner Club, One Bill At The Restaurant, Restaurant, Restaurant Bills, Restaurant Group Bill, Restaurant Groups, Restaurants, Separate Bills, Single Bill For Restaurant Group Food, Supper Club

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar Nancy Czerwinski
26th Apr 2015 (#)

My friends and I have done it both ways. It's much easier to have separate checks though. Great article.

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author avatar Randhir Bechoo
26th Apr 2015 (#)

Interesting page.

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author avatar Retired
26th Apr 2015 (#)

Sounds like Jenny is senile, remembering only two cocktails instead of three.

Separate checks is always a good idea. Then, Jenny would have a one-on-one argument with the server instead of involving the whole group, jeopardizing her friendships, and imposing her pain-in-the-*ss behavior on what would have been a nice night out.

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author avatar Carol Roach
26th Apr 2015 (#)

she wasn't senile just cheap.

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author avatar pohtiongho
27th Apr 2015 (#)

It is always better to have separate checks because later on you may have problems getting back on the bills you helped to pay. Some people don't have a sense of shame, unless you actually invited them, why must you foot their bills?

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author avatar WOGIAM
27th Apr 2015 (#)

This has never crossed my mind, but the few times i had had group outings, we usually ask for a single bill, then split the total among us.

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