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What can “Friends” the hit American sitcom tell us about splitting bills at restaurants?

by NBC on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/friends-trivia-quiz_n_3210312.html

Decades after the last episode of Friends, the popular classic sitcom still never fails to make people laugh. Now and again, Friends has an episode where the humorous content is a little too close to home. ‘The one with five steaks and an eggplant’ is one of such episodes.

After Monica is offered an incredible job opportunity, Rachel, Ross and the rest of the cast go out for dinner. It is immediately obvious that Monica, Chandler and Ross are all oblivious to Joey, Phoebe and Rachel’s financial struggles. This fact fails to make itself clear ,even after Joey asks the waiter if a topless pizza less expensive than an actual pizza.

Any person who has been out to dinner with a large group of friends would laugh with a level sympathy for some of these characters.

Ross, after having one of the most expensive meals in the group, suggests that the bill be split evenly. Phoebe the most vocal in the group refuses to pay in such a manner as she, Rachel and Joey only ordered starters. As the friends argued about which method was best for paying the bill, the episode became more like a documentary than a sitcom.

Imagine your friends invite you to an expensive restaurant, that is a little outside your price range, you decided to go anyway as it is more important to spend valuable time with your friends.

Imagine your friends ordered 3 lobsters, 2 steaks, a starter and 5 desserts with a bottle of Dom Pérignon and you only ordered jollof rice. Despite the price of food, you are having a good time, the waiter comes over with the bill and your friends ask if you can all split the bill equally.

For many people splitting the bill can turn any good dinner sour, especially when your companions believe it’s fair for you to pay a Lion’s share, after they have comfortably eaten three courses above your price range.

Paying the bill at a restaurant can be a very stressful occurrence with one of your friends sometimes forgetting their wallet; someone brings a date last minute or even the thought of having to do calculations at the end of the evening is worthy of making anyone’s head spin.

You must be asking, with all this unnecessary head ache surely there must be more efficient ways to split the bill, lucky for you there are:

by NBC on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/friends-trivia-quiz_n_3210312.html

Tell your friends that you are only prepared to pay for what you have ordered.

In order to avoid the unnecessary unpleasantries towards the end of dinner it is best to let the rest of your dinner party know in advance how you would prefer to pay for your meal.

When your friends ask to divide the bill equally, sometime they assume that everyone ordered with in the same price range in mind. Simply dividing the total cost of the meal by the number of people in the group is a method that requires the least amount of hassle.

Let your friends know in advance about how much you are going to spend or how little you are going to eat before hand.

Although this maybe an awkward conversation, it is better than feeling annoyed at everyone after not making it clear how you would like to pay in the first place.

by NBC on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/friends-trivia-quiz_n_3210312.html

Ask your waiter if each person could receive an individual receipt.

Having to sieve through a receipt at the end of a meal , while bringing out a calculator on your phone if math isn’t your exact forte, could really ruin the atmosphere of a good dinner.

When you are going out to have dinner with friends there is an expectation that you have left the office. If you don’t want to divide the bill equally you don’t have to laboriously remember exactly what you ordered or quickly revive the math skills you left in secondary school, instead ask your waiter to give everyone an individual receipt.

Ask your friends if this is okay, if not, just tell waiter you are paying separately and you would like your own bill.

Let the office be where you work and a restaurant be where you relax.

by NBC on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/friends-trivia-quiz_n_3210312.html

Have the I am not paying for your +1 or any extra charges rule.

If your friend decides to bring a date or their child last minute, it is their responsibility to pay for the extra amount on the bill, no one should expect you to pay for their plus 1, unless you offer.

Also if everyone in the group orders food that costs roughly the same, it is okay to split the bill equally. However, if one person orders an extra course and champagne, they should pay the difference.

by NBC on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/friends-trivia-quiz_n_3210312.html

The Cashless Problem

Do you have that one forgetful friend who always forgets their wallets at home when going out for dinner?

With Peer-to-peer payment apps like Paga, this problem can be easily resolved. All your forgetful friend needs is their phone to transfer money to your account, and you can pay for the bill in cash.

If your friend continues to forget their wallet, have the rule that she can only have dinner with you if she remembers her wallet.

by NBC on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/friends-trivia-quiz_n_3210312.html

Be honest with your friends.

It is a great idea to treat yourself to an expensive dinner, every once and a while. But not many people can eat lavishly every other week.

If you are struggling to keep up with your friends eating habits be honest with them.

Ask if the group can only go out for dinner occasionally or only go to restaurants which are within your price range. The focus of having a meal should not be the price but the people you spend time with.

You can also have your own personal ‘come to dine with me’ : each week one friend cooks from home for the entire group. Whether you are a future Michelin Star chef or the best thing you can cook is Indome, there is something about cooking together with your friends in the comfort of your own home that creates wonderful memories and spurs honest conversation with the people you care about, even if you slightly burn the plantain.

by NBC on https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/06/friends-trivia-quiz_n_3210312.html

Hopefully, these suggestions would help you have more enjoyable experiences when spending time with friends.

Click on the link to see a clip from the Friends episode: The one with five steaks and an eggplant.

— Beulah Samuel-Ogbu, Marketing Intern.

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