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Splitting Checks

Okay, I get it. You go out to lunch with your fellow workers, sometimes as many as 10-12 and when the check comes you tell the server you all want separate checks. No problem, it can be done. May I suggest ways to make it more efficient all round.
Understand that it takes time. Had the server known from the start she/he could have done the work ahead of time instead of at the end when you are ready to go.
Lunch tabs are usually in the 8 to 12 dollar range. If this is something you do often consider carrying some cash on you. It's fast, easy and cash is always appreciated by the server and the owners.

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  1. Anyone who asks the server to split the check 12 ways after the fact is a jerk. It's amazing to me that people can't just figure this out on their own.

    I don't think I've ever requested separate checks when dining out, now that I think of it. If you are constantly getting screwed over by your dining companions then you may need to re-think who you break bread with.

    1 Reply
    1. re: LeoLioness

      Yep, but I might add a self-entitled jerk, too. I can see a few but 10-12? Really?

    2. Good thought. Depending on the type of point-of-sale system the restaurant uses, splitting a check 10-12 ways AFTER it's all in the system, is most likely a huge pain in the butt! Where I work I'd have to print out the bill, figure out who had what, and then enter each order separately on a separate bill. 10-12 separate orders???? A good 10 minutes worth of work!!!!!!!!!!!!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Midlife

        Meanwhile those people that wanted the check split 12 different ways start getting impatient and your other tables are being neglected. This is a nightmare.

        1. re: jpc8015

          And then you have to make the individual financial transactions and personal interactions. It can roll quickly downhill and only picks up moss as it goes.

      2. I understand situations in which it is more comfortable for those involved to split the bill. If that is the situation these few things can help things run smoother. Always have one person inform the server before orders are taken. Everyone does not need to inform them, its a huge annoying waste of time. Please do not expect 12 people to get 12 pens with their checks, share. Oh and if the only mistake on the separate bills is one person was charged for someone else's soda please be rational and figure how to exchange $2. (the correct number for the party, one was just attached to the wrong person)

        1 Reply
        1. re: holypeaches

          Many times after a weekend run a mixed group of people would go to a local breakfast joint to refuel. There are some couples, some loners. Some people are very high income, some are high school students or on a tight budget. We always let the waitress know ahead of time how the checks will split out. I don't know if it was annoying for the waitress but I do know that our group always tipped well, probably better with checks split than throwing it all in a kitty for one.

        2. I think you're preaching to the choir.

          1. When I was a server, there was a common scam servers would pull to make extra money off of large tables with separate checks. Basically, if everyone ordered soda for example, they would only ring up one soda - then keep transferring it to the next check as they were printing all the checks out. It really only worked if everyone was paying cash though.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Atomic76

              Thank you so much for knowing we have servers that spend their scamming the customers....were you part of the group?

              1. re: escondido123

                Ummmmm, I re-read Atomic76's post a couple of times and it sure seems like the servers were scamming the house, not the customers. Collect the cash for multiple sodas, then ring up only one....... pocketing the cash for the rest.

                1. re: Midlife

                  having worked as a server, i'm not even really sure what atomic is talking about, but yeah, that's stealing from the house, not the guest.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    What Atomic wrote is extremely hard to decipher but I think it is based on the assumption that if a drink is left off the bill the patron will tip more.
                    Or perhaps the customer was given the full bill then the servers removed a drink from the bill and pocketed the difference. Either way its stealing from the restaurant not the patron.

                    1. re: kpaxonite

                      plenty of folks don't even look at the bill, they just toss down a card. how much more do folks really leave for free soda?

                      that's a stupid reason to get fired.

            2. Last time I lunched with my group of 10 the server took it upon herself to provide separate checks for each of us ( we didn't ask; perhaps she was just playing with a new POS). We ordered multiples of appetizers to share but everyone's drink varied wildly from sparkling water to house speciality cocktails.
              Each check listed each diner's beverage plus 1/10 of each app ordered (itemized). I would never dream of asking for this kind of accounting but must admit it made life pretty easy when setling the bill.

              17 Replies
              1. re: Pwmfan

                I recently did some research on restaurant POS software and found that some make this kind of thing a whole lot easier than others. It's always nice when software seems to be written by people who actually understand the reality if the end users. You'd think that would be automatic but it isn't really.

                1. re: Midlife

                  buying a new, up-to-date pos system is very expensive and not many places want to spend that kind of cash after opening.

                  i have never worked anyplace where splitting checks was a "breeze", and was always flabbergasted that the majority of guests asked for the split at the end of the meal. some places you ring food in by seat number so this wasn't as much of challenge to determine who had what, but it still was very time-consuming and yes, you have other tables wondering where in hell you'd disappeared.

                  last summer, i had a table of 8 guys, all of whom got soda and the burger for lunch. when i brought the bill they then asked for separate checks. i was krazee busy and wanted to stomp on them. i said, "you realize you all had exactly the same lunch? everybody owes the same amount. you each owe $21.95." they looked at me like i was speaking narnian. i said it a couple more times and finally realized their utter incomprehension of simple math was defeating me. losing all that time utterly drowned me.

                  same job, very, very busy saturday, part of my station was a table of 5 and another of 8. both finishing at the same time and THEN all asking for separate checks. i nearly had a stroke from stress. the party of 5 also needed the booze on still another check and then gave me 8 different forms of payment, some using more than one card to pay their bill. one of the cards was declined, fueling this melt-down straight into dante's inferno. both of these tables then treated me like i was some sort of idiot when everything was FINALLY squared away.

                  my lawd, people!!!!!

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Hope you feel better now, hotoynoodle. ;o]]]]]]

                    1. re: Midlife

                      lol, can you see i remain scarred? ;)

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Whatever works for you!! I work at a place that apparently gives off mixed signals as to what it's business model is, so we get very small tips or none at all sometimes. It's not just me, so I'm not worried that my sparkling personality is the issue. But, don't get ME started.............. although I could actually USE a good cathartic experience. ;o]]]]]]]]

                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                      What do you think about this example? I go to dinner with three of my buddies. We are having cocktails, apps, mains, wine and finally after dinner scotches. Bill comes and we each throw a credit card onto the tables and tell you to split the bill four ways. Is that easy to do? I do this all the time and wanted to see if there was some complicated process to break the bill into multiple charges. Is that better or worse than asking for separate checks up front?

                      1. re: Bkeats

                        nope, that's easy. just the simple math of dividing by 4 and swiping the cards. :) some systems have an "equal pay" function where you enter the number of cards and it does the math.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          good to know. that's what we usually do! I do have an app on my phone that will calculate the split for me - 'cause I'm a math dummy - if it comes to that. :)

                      2. re: hotoynoodle

                        You could have added, "DUDES! Do your phones not have calculator apps?"

                        1. re: Jeri L

                          that would make the tip easier to calculate too- zero!

                    3. re: Pwmfan

                      Very nice!
                      I recently had lunch with a friend at my favorite sushi place. just the two of us - a not busy Sunday afternoon. She asked for separate checks - I ordered one of the specialty rolls for us to share. not only did the waiter have the sushi chef put half of the roll on each plate, he changed our checks by hand to reflect 1/2 the cost of the roll. It was great.

                      1. re: jujuthomas

                        i've never worked anyplace that allowed you to split a dish charge into portions. that's a great function.

                      2. re: Pwmfan

                        1/10 of the apps? Wow. I hope they tipped her very well; THAT is service!

                        1. re: Violatp

                          That was 1/10th of EACH app. I really DO hope she didn't have to do that all manually. Ouch.

                          1. re: Midlife

                            Right? I mean, that's just above and beyond. I would have been so impressed and appreciative.

                            1. re: Violatp

                              We were! When she brought the individual checks we each had a register receipt about a foot long. It listed " 3 lamb chop apps @ $&1.195, 2 guac@$.995" etc. plus whatever beverages were consumed by each person. We were pretty impressed by this and the waitress seemed really enthusiastic about the system. And she was gone only a brief time between being asked for the check and bringing them to the table.

                        2. re: Pwmfan

                          I was recently at a new bar/restaurant that serves mostly individual tacos and appetizers. Our orders were for a few individual tacos each, shared appetizers, and individual drinks. After we asked for the bill, our server asked us if we wanted separate checks - and they came with what we had ordered individually and the appetizers divded by percentage. Made paying magnificently easy.

                          I do wonder given the restaurant/bar nature of the place that having a system designed to easily split checks probably speeds up their turnover greatly. We weren't there for late night drinks, but I can imagine a more tipsy crowd trying to figure out who owed what for which individual tacos, appetizers, plus drinks could create for some really slow bill payments.

                        3. It's always nice to know about splitting checks before the orders are placed.
                          On our POS system, we can then assign each persons order to a different table, therefore just having to print each check at the end.
                          The issue is always that it takes the server, or manager, off the floor for a period of time that may be very inconvenient.
                          Then you have discount/loyalty programs for which each individual payer wants to use separately, and the most annoying of all is when individuals dispute how much of a shared side they ate - "my friends ate three quarters of it and I only had one spoon of salad, so please split it to 1/8th for me!"
                          In certain cases, I will tell them to split the check themselves, give them a pen and a calculator and ask for all payments to be ready when I come back to the table. To me, this gives them an idea of the amount of fussing they expect me to do when the restaurant is full.
                          And this is in a restaurant where all menus clearly state:
                          Sorry, no separate checks

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: cronker

                            I'm sorry if I'm misreading cronker, but if your menus state no separate checks, then why does it come up at all for you? (And also, if your POS allows pre-assigning pretty easily, what's the holdback?)

                            1. re: DuchessNukem

                              Hehe, because our guests simply ignore the "no separate checks" bit.
                              And the POS system does allow it, but the EFTPOS side takes a lot of time.

                              1. re: cronker

                                Lol. "That sign says NO xxxxxxx but surely they don't mean ME!"

                          2. I have not really considered this in many, many years.

                            Nowadays, it is usually two couple, or three at the most. We just split it down the middle, or into thirds, and are done.

                            With any larger groups, I am either a guest, or the host, and one person gets the full bill, though there have been a few times when I picked up the wine bill, separate from the food bill, but that was determined well in advance.

                            I suppose that this happens in larger offices, but I've not been in one of those in maybe 35 years, so have forgotten how much math might be involved.

                            I consider myself fortunate, and feel for any server(s) faced with "separate checks" for a party of 20.


                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              my last job was at a high-end steakhouse near a bunch of hotels and convention center. certain outfits, especially non-profits and gov't offices, really make the employees jump through hoops to use and not abuse their stipends. i get that. but also often got the feeling these same guests only eat out that once a year at the convention.

                            2. I work somewhere where it is relatively easy to split bills. Everything is rung in by seat number, there is button to do splits, if people want to combine you can move things around, and you can divide items if people shared things. I do often prefer to do separate bills because then people are not estimating what their share is, or underestimating tax etc. plus I think people see it as an extra step that is nice. That said, this is easy for a group of say four women, less so for a larger group. We do tell people when they reserve that it takes some more time to process. Yes, I suppose that it the main issue, processing 10 cards and being taken away from the rest of your tables. I will often bring two credit card machines (we have portable ones in Canada) to do multiple cards at once.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: equalibra

                                That POS system sounds interesting.
                                If I'm right, does that mean that when you input the position number for each item ordered, it automatically tallies the cost for that position?

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Can you name the system please?
                                    Currently, we run RedCat, which is good to a point.

                                    1. re: cronker

                                      i've never worked with a system like equalibra's that lets you split items between patrons, but aloha and micros let you run "seat numbers" for each patron and then produce separate bills at the end. newer versions of either of those may do more, but i haven't seen an updated one in over 5 years.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        I'm trying to remember but can't. Ill check tomorrow! Technically we have to have seat numbers assigned throughout so runners know who ordered what. No "auctioning" allowed. Is this not the case (or at least ideal) in most restaurants? So we use seat numbers throughout and if people want to split we just press a button. From there I can transfer or split items.

                              2. I agree!

                                When I know I'm splitting the bill, I will always go to the bank to get ones (as in enough ones for the entire table to split over and over again). Or if I really have to, I will leave the table, go to the cashier or bartender ahead of time and get 10 $1 bills, which I explain they'll get back soon enough.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: boltnut55

                                  more people need a smartie friend like you. :)