Q: My husband and I went out with another couple for a nice dinner. They ordered very expensive appetizers and drinks. When the bill came, they expected us to split the bill evenly with them, even though they spent $50.00 more than my husband and I. We paid to avoid an argument. What should we have done?
A: This is an ongoing problem for group dinners. It somehow is never “fair.” You either have to know you are going to be paying extra to cover the cost of another person’s extra drink or more expensive entrée, or you have to agree ahead of time that someone takes a calculator and divides up the bill precisely. An alternative is to go to a price fixed restaurant, or a buffet, or other place where the costs are the same and those who drink or order extra deduct and pay that amount before the bill is divided. Many people simply do not go out in groups anymore because of the acrimony that is caused when it comes to dividing the bill. The only way it is not acrimonious is if you all agree ahead of time exactly how you are going to organize who pays for what. Another alternative is to call ahead of time and ask if the restaurant is willing to provide separate checks for groups. If so, there is no issue.