The Credit Card Conundrum

Waiter Flickr.jpg
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"Why am I always running out of pens?"
OK. It's your first day at work at some random French cafe. You've never waited tables before, but you aced the interview and somehow convinced the manager that you were ready for the big time. Your first table is seated. It's a four-top. Old ladies lunching. And after they place their order, Blue Hair No. 1 approaches you at the coffee station, hands you her credit card and says she wants to pick up the bill.

No problem, right?

Wrong.

As the entrees come out, Blue Hair No. 2 pulls you aside. She's offended that BH1 is paying for her lunch. "She always does this," BH2 complains, giving a laundry list of reasons why she needs to pay her share. She hands you a credit card and asks to split the bill.

The manager is nowhere to be found. The other waitstaff is in the weeds. The ladies who lunch are staring you down over their reading glasses.

What do you do?

I bring this up because as a critic, the Observer almost always picks up the bill, unless I'm chomping on a burger for my own pleasures. Sometimes the people I take out expect it. And sometimes they still try and split the check. It's a little awkward -- especially when a waiter is staring you down while you hash things out.

The last time this came up, my waiter simply said that when tables disagree on payment, the first card received is always the dominant card. BH1 commandeered the bill first so her request stands as law. That's the rule. My whole table agreed.

I've been wondering whether this rule is as uniform as fork on the left, knife on the right.

Since my last interaction with industry folk was so very cordial (#LifeBehindBars!), I thought I'd ask nicely: Is this the standard rule? And for all the other diners who have a parent or business partner or showy friend who always picks up the check, how do you pick up your fair share when you think you should?

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31 comments
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ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

Im growing very tired of hashtags outside of twitter

Mark Wootton
Mark Wootton

 #hashtagsIRL Also, whenever I see a hashtag I say "pound" in my head. Am I the only one?

TommyIce
TommyIce

Aww me so sorry...

First card trumps all others.

#Lifebehindbars

Thewarden
Thewarden

When I would find myself in these situations I would always go with the first person that gave me the CC.  They got to me first and they really wanted to pay the tab, so I let them.  The only time I would go against this is if a woman came to me with the CC first and then a man did, I would go ahead and let the man pay the tab.  Call me old fashion...  #LifeBehindBars

TLS
TLS

Maybe the woman is desperate to pay the check so she doesn't have to have sex with the guy after dinner.  

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

Never waited tables before, but I would give the cards back to both BH's and tell them I'll check back on them in a few minutes.  Let them figure it out.  Fighting over who pays is tacky and the waiter shouldn't have to be dragged into it.

Thewarden
Thewarden

I hear ya, but having been in the service industry for some time now, you quickly find that it reflects on your tip if you make that move.  Another way to go about it is if you take both CC's and flip a coin or have someone guess which hand and then that one pays.  Something like that, what ever it is, the service needs to make the call to keep their tip in the high percentage because if they sit there and figure it out the server is forgotten about and so is the tip in most cases that I have been in. #LifeBehindBars

jesus
jesus

#comingupwithasoftballtogetlbbbackonyourside?

cp
cp

File under: First World Problems.

Really, Scott? Is this so-called "random French cafe" somewhere in France, or is it in Oak Lawn and has four stars, or is it, you know, in North Park Mall? 

And why am I asking? Who the fuck even cares? 

Cellarmaster
Cellarmaster

Yes, first card pays is a fine dining standard here in Dallas at least. I appreciate you being straightforward with your lack of understanding restaurants, bars, and things like popping bottles of beer. #LBB#bornunderarockandthrowingstones

Cellarmaster
Cellarmaster

Oh and the fork goes on the left and the knife on the right, but I don't imagine you use both utensils simultaneously. #LBB

primi timpano
primi timpano

First, never in the history of modern civilization has a blue haired old lady ever offered to pick up the tab of anyone but a direct blood relative, and certainly not her blue haired companions.

In the case of non-blue haired squabbling I see two solutions.  While entirely unethical, charge them both the entire price.  If they notice (which they very well may not, being blue haired old ladies), proceed to option 2, which is to put the cards in a hat, or behind your back or whatever (dice or playing cards would be fun) and let the forces of randomness select the payor.

If one is the insistent payor, better to make advance arrangements with the restaurant well before the guests arrive.  Tell them to total the bill, add 20% or whatever, and enjoy your dinner.  When it is over, just tell your guests what a great time you had but it is time to leave.  When they ask about the bill, just tell them it has already been taken care of.  The beauty of this solution is that it doesn't interrupt a convivial dining experience with the inconvenience of credit cards, doing math in public, waiting for waiters, etc..

Cellarmaster
Cellarmaster

Oh and to be nice and answer your final query: if you can't remember to make arrangements in advance, you can always excuse yourself to the bathroom at the beginning of your meal and get your card to your server or better yet the manager on duty. Caveat: I've seen many people get burned at the end when their showy friends ordered two $300 bottles of wine. At that point you can bite the bullet and fork up the dough or offer to split the bill in half(or if you're really cheap offer to allow them to pay for the wine.) Let us at #LBB know if you have anymore questions.

Im_Ed_Carter
Im_Ed_Carter

 In tip percentage multiplication formula making...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

when dining with the parents or in laws who always pay, we kindly offer to pay this time and if turned down we ask if we may leave the tip or give them cash.  Its usually a "no, we have it"  so we just save that money and buy them extra nice gifts when it comes to x-mas.

Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Mehhhhh

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

did you know that mike bacsik pitched for the Rangers?

TheRealDirtyP1
TheRealDirtyP1

i think the answer he's looking for is vsbb

Sybils_Beaver
Sybils_Beaver

Is todays secret ranger Lenny Randle

Kergo 1 Spaceship
Kergo 1 Spaceship

No Beave, the secret Ranger is Gary Gray (2 AB's in 1977).......and as a former Dr. Pepper Junior Ranger (1983), I'd like to vote for Wayne Tolleson's weak hitting infield. That starting infield hit a miraculous 27 homers in 1977; George Foster hit 52 that year.  

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin

I would like to vote for cannonball dunhams explosive diarrhea farts

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