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Old 25.01.2015, 13:23
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Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

First world problem alert.

I don't know about anyone else, but this drives me absolutely nuts when I go out to a restaurant with a group of six or more and the restaurants insist you all pay together in one single lump. To be clear, it's not receiving a single itemised bill that I am objecting to, it is the fact that many do not allow people to pay separately to the waiting staff based on what they have consumed, like in the way 3Wishes posted below.

While I do of course understand that it is a little extra effort on the restaurants part to spend a total of 10 minutes separating a big bill that we have just spent 2 hours consuming, it inevitably turns into a chaotic mess of people without the right change for their individual costs throwing big notes onto the table and someone owing someone else the change which they will "sort out later". Splitting the bill equally to cut down on the faffing around is simply not always possible if you have people that eat and drink light, or don't drink alcohol... which generally happens in a group of 6 or more people.

What I would be interested to know is what would happen if you insisted on paying separately and refused to give any money until this was done... pretty sure they would change their tune as as far as I know there is no legal basis for forcing people to pay as a whole.

So yeah as I said, I understand its a bit of a pain for the restaurant staff to have to tally it up separately or in couples, but for flips sake, who exactly is the customer and who exactly is paying good money for the bare minimum of service that constitutes the general standard in a Swiss restaurant?

Ahh, that's better.

Last edited by Richdog; 25.01.2015 at 14:26.
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Old 25.01.2015, 13:30
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

Working in gastro, of course I would split the bill if the group insisted.

But last night at my bar there was a group of 6 drinking for about 3 hours. They kept telling me to add all the drinks and rounds onto the table tab. But when they came to pay at 11 they then wanted the bill splitting, it took about 15 mins between us to sort it which is a pain as we had a lot of customers wanting drinks.

Of course, the customer is always right and I didn't make a fuss. But it would have been nice of them to tell me at the beginning to run 6 separate tabs for them.
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Old 25.01.2015, 13:31
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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they then wanted the bill splitting
splitting equally? If not I'd have told them to get stuffed if they wanted it combined initially - it's for them to do the accounting post facto.
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Old 25.01.2015, 13:34
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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Working in gastro, of course I would split the bill if the group insisted.

But last night at my bar there was a group of 6 drinking for about 3 hours. They kept telling me to add all the drinks and rounds onto the table tab. But when they came to pay at 11 they then wanted the bill splitting, it took about 15 mins between us to sort it which is a pain as we had a lot of customers wanting drinks.

Of course, the customer is always right and I didn't make a fuss. But it would have been nice of them to tell me at the beginning to run 6 separate tabs for them.
Yeah that's not so cool Grumps, especially if they are drunk and just ordering stuff willy-nilly.

Another reason why nowadays I always try and pay in cash per individual drink when in a bar.
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Old 25.01.2015, 13:48
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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splitting equally? If not I'd have told them to get stuffed if they wanted it combined initially - it's for them to do the accounting post facto.
I would never tell a customer to get stuffed!

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Yeah that's not so cool Grumps, especially if they are drunk and just ordering stuff willy-nilly.

Another reason why nowadays I always try and pay in cash per individual drink when in a bar.
We do try to insist, or at least encourage, customers to pay each round once the bar is full in the evening, but this group came in at 8 when we could cope, and one is a girl I know so felt ok to do so. Splitting the bill doesn't take too much of my time (much more of theirs as they argue who drank the expensive beers) but then taking 6 lots of money and credit card entries does.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:02
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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I would never tell a customer to get stuffed!.
lol ok....
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:06
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

Normally if you want he bill split, the people at the table do it and then you all pay what you agreed to, hoping it adds up to the total amount of the bill.

It is not the waiters' job to split the bill really, or you ask for seperate bills at the start, if you all want a bill for your expense account or whatever

You can always ask for a bit of time between recieveng and paying the bill, if only to check it.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:10
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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Working in gastro, of course I would split the bill if the group insisted.

But last night at my bar there was a group of 6 drinking for about 3 hours. They kept telling me to add all the drinks and rounds onto the table tab. But when they came to pay at 11 they then wanted the bill splitting, it took about 15 mins between us to sort it which is a pain as we had a lot of customers wanting drinks.

Of course, the customer is always right and I didn't make a fuss. But it would have been nice of them to tell me at the beginning to run 6 separate tabs for them.
You have my sympathy here- and good on you for your patience. But surely if this is what the customers want, they should make it clear when booking, or at the beginning of the evening, as you say.

Richdog, next time, tell them in advance this is how you want to proceed and it will be easier for all concerned. If they refuse or are ackward- then you can just walk away. We often split the bill- but equally between the number of people- so easy peasy. A bit annyoing when one or two in the group are inconsiderate and order very expensive extra drinks, etc- but fortunately our friends don't do this and we don't either. If it is decided to split individually- then we take a piece of paper and put individual names at the top and what each has had, and work it out ourselves- check the total and then hand the money. A waiter in a busy restaurant just can't do this unless they are warned in advance.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:16
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

We have a monthly dinner meet-up in Bern. Sometimes there are 20 or more people that show up, and we almost always get just one bill. Rather than asking the server to split or just tossing out cash, each person reviews the bill and pays his or her part in full to the server. No swapping change with each other. The server then moves to the next person and crosses off items as they are paid for. Some people pay cash, others use cards. Half the time we're doing maths on the paper tablecloths.

It does take time, and twice OH and I were the last ones to pay and got stuck with a beer that we didn't actually order. Still, in more than 3 years of attending the dinners that's not bad. Overall it works well.

IMO it would be faster and more accurate in the long run for the restaurant to just run 20 tabs. As that's not likely to happen any time soon, perhaps our method will work for you in the future? All it takes is one person to approach the server and pay his stuff, and then others will follow suit (I hope).
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:23
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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We have a monthly dinner meet-up in Bern. Sometimes there are 20 or more people that show up, and we almost always get just one bill. Rather than asking the server to split or just tossing out cash, each person reviews the bill and pays his or her part in full to the server. No swapping change with each other. The server then moves to the next person and crosses off items as they are paid for. Some people pay cash, others use cards. Half the time we're doing maths on the paper tablecloths.
This is what I am talking about but maybe didn't explain clearly enough (I will clarify in the OP)... I didn't mean each person should receive a separate bill of their own, I meant that the waiter should take each individual payment separately in the way you are suggesting. I know restaurants that do it and it works perfectly fine, but sadly there are many stubborn ones, like the one I was in last night, that play funny buggers about it.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:28
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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This is what I am talking about but maybe didn't explain clearly enough (I will clarify in the OP)... I didn't mean each person should receive a separate bill of their own, I meant that the waiter should take each individual payment separately in the way you are suggesting. I know restaurants that do it and it works perfectly fine, but sadly there are many stubborn ones that play funny buggers about it.
I'm always astonished that they will actually do this - I'd never seen it anywhere before coming to Switzerland. So just be grateful for those that do and avoid those that don't. FWIW I've never know one that doesn't do so, perhaps because I don't live in Zurich.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:29
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

Hubby and I are not on nice expat contracts, and we do have to be careful with our money. When eating out I check the prices to stay within my budget.

So what really gets to me is the people who ate whatever caught their fancy, including starters and dessert, and then suggest we split the tab because it's easier that way... And you can't exactly say no, if you don't want to pass for a Scrooge
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:32
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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I'm always astonished that they will actually do this - I'd never seen it anywhere before coming to Switzerland. So just be grateful for those that do and avoid those that don't. FWIW I've never know one that doesn't do so, perhaps because I don't live in Zurich.
It's commonplace in just about every European country I have been in that they will happily do this if requested, especially in the UK. I'm not going to "just be grateful" (sorry, but lol @ that) as a customer for someone telling me how I should inconvenience myself paying for my tab after spending a good amount of money at their restaurant.

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Hubby and I are not on nice expat contracts, and we do have to be careful with our money. When eating out I check the prices to stay within my budget.

So what really gets to me is the people who ate whatever caught their fancy, including starters and dessert, and then suggest we split the tab because it's easier that way... And you can't exact say no, if you don't want to pass for a Scrooge
Rubbish, anyone who asks to split, when they have had significantly more than others, should be politely told where and why to go. If you're afraid of "looking like a scrooge" for saying something perfectly warranted, then I suggest you choose better company or have a little more confidence in sticking up for your principles.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:40
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

In my extensive travels I've come across strange and complicated systems used in far off lands. They call it a "point of sale" system, and amazingly enough the serving staff use it to allocated orders to seats at a table, making a split bill a trivial matter of selecting "split bill" in the amazing system.

I found this amazing, revolutionary system to be quite effective in avoiding conflicts between staff and consumer as the manual arithmetic is entirely avoided and the bill can be split in whichever way anyone sees fit at the simple press of a button, even so far as printing individual bills for each participant!

Perhaps on my next travels to the far off lands I'll try to capture one in the wild and bring it back as a demonstration piece. I'm sure everyone will be amazed.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:44
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

I have never had a problem with a restaurant not wanting to charge us separately, I actually admire how some waiters/waitresses are able to calculate each order without even writing the numbers down.


Splitting equally the bill is more a swiss custom, which really bothers me, specially when I live in a budget and I order based on it.


Once I went with a group of swiss friends to a restaurant during a short visit in Münich and I order for 10 euros ( I was just for the day and on a budget o 15 euros for eating, since we weren't planning to go to a fancy restaurant, just to grab something on the way),while I was in the toilette, they had asked for the bill and decided to split equally. I was really bothered because each one had to pay around 20-25 euros per person, which is 100% more than expected. I hadn't drink from the fancy wines or gas water. If it would have be 20 euros instead 15 I wouldn't have had a problem either.


I had to speak my mind and told them that I was going to pay what I consumed since I am on a budget. Some people look at me as a greedy b*tch but some of them understood and even helped to even the rest.
If somebody is in my situation, I would recommend to be honest upfront, most swiss people are very conscious about their expenses and would never question your budget choices or how you manage your money. Of course, if you are planning ahead to go to a medium-high restaurant, I would recommend you to inform about the prices before, so you can take enough money to cover your expenses.
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Old 25.01.2015, 14:47
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

We just added a splitting charge when more that 3 seperate bills.$1,50
I made no money on that at all and for whatever reason people either avoided that charge or did not mind paying it at all.


Don't forget that every time the CC is swiped it costs the bar/restaurant money. Adds up very quickly to several 1000's a month....
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Old 25.01.2015, 15:09
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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I'm always astonished that they will actually do this - I'd never seen it anywhere before coming to Switzerland. So just be grateful for those that do and avoid those that don't. FWIW I've never know one that doesn't do so, perhaps because I don't live in Zurich.
This has been my experience too. I've not eaten anywhere that hasn't allowed the individuals to each pay the waiter for their share but I don't live in Zurich either.
It was common practice in Belgium too when we used to go out as a group.

In the UK as far as I can remember we mostly had to work it out ourselves and put our share in the pot and then pay for everyone together.
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Old 25.01.2015, 15:44
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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It's commonplace in just about every European country I have been in that they will happily do this if requested, especially in the UK.
Since when? I had never once seen it in the UK when I left there ~15 years ago. Mebbe it's changed since then, but I really don't know what the problem with getting an itemised bill and working it out for yourselves is.

And anyway, shouldn't this really be in the First World Problems thread?
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Old 25.01.2015, 16:16
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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Richdog, next time, tell them in advance this is how you want to proceed and it will be easier for all concerned.
I agree with you. With modern cash register systems it should be easy to keep separate tabs per seat, just tell the waiter/waitress in advance.

However, stubbornly refusing to split the bill afterwards is just poor customer service from the restaurant.
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Old 25.01.2015, 16:29
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Re: Restaurants insisting you pay the bill as a group...

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Since when? I had never once seen it in the UK when I left there ~15 years ago.
Since I was old enough to start eating and paying in restaurants, and since every time I go back to the UK and eat in a restaurant.

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Mebbe it's changed since then, but I really don't know what the problem with getting an itemised bill and working it out for yourselves is.
To reiterate what is already in the clearly legible opening post, the problem is people not having the right amount of cash to pay for their part without needing change, thus it ends up absolute chaos to sort everyone out afterwards. I'll leave you to muddle that for a while, but let me know when it finally finishes processing.

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And anyway, shouldn't this really be in the First World Problems thread?
No, it's a dedicated complaint thread.
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