Restaurants Now Charging $2.00 to Split The Check?!

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I don’t know what’s going on lately, but I have now come across TWO different places that want to charge me for splitting the check.  I totally meant to bring it up the first time I caught it – a few months back while vacationing out in Delaware – but if your responses today are anything like it was when I tweeted about it (“WTF??”  “NO way!!!”) I’m hoping it’s enough to curb the trend that may or may not be coming our way ;) I don’t think I could deal with any more nonsense when it comes to those group-paying bills – they’re already a ruckus!

Seriously, if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s 10 people sitting around a table trying to pay off their tab.  Especially when you have one or two “Let’s just split it evenly” friends in the mix – it drives me loco!!  And they’re usually the ones how eat/drink more than the others too! Haha… You know who those are.  I’m totally for even-splits with close friends or in smaller dinner groups (4 or less), but once you get into the 1/2 dozens or more it becomes a mess.  Which is why I prefer to always ask for separate checks from the moment I sit down  – it does no harm, and you’re totally left out of the group mentality at the end.  When everyone wants to tip differently, and 3/4 forget about the taxes they need to pay.  I genuinely feel bad for waiters/waitresses, I can’t imagine the mess we put them through.

But back to the these new $2.00 charges — why charge them in the first place? And even more so, are they per “split,” or per group?  Cuz that’s a pretty penny if you’ve got 5-6 people all wanting separate tabs.  And there was no way I was gonna try it myself when I was there ;) But if I take my angry goggles off for a second, I’m pretty sure I could speculate as to why they’re initiating these charges in the first place.  Whether I agree with them or not.  Here are 3 reasons:

  1. It’s annoying for a waiter/waitress to split the check 7 ways.  So in an attempt to prevent it from happening (and to save more time) they mandate a “convenience fee” figuring it would at least bring in additional revenue if they’re gonna be forced to make the customers happy in that way.  And with a few large groups a night, it may even cover the base salary of the wait staff.
  2. It costs the restaurant money every time they swipe your card. A very true fact, for sure.  Certainly not $2.00 a swipe, but I suppose if you’re gonna charge it up, you might as well ask for more than the 20 cents or so they’re getting dinged.  At the very least it would help more w/ getting you not to do it in the first place, like mentioned above.
  3. The restaurant is a mom and pop shop.  Which means the money it costs them per swipe, AND the extra time it takes their wait staff to put up w/ these large groups, matters a crazy amount more than your average restaurant chain.  And in both of my recent experiences w/ these notices, each of the places WERE local shops. And probably the darlings of the towns, which may be the reasoning for these extra charges too – the fact that more people would overlook it and continue wanting to support them?

That’s what I think anyways, what about you guys? Any other reasons they could be charging? Whether their rationalizations are valid or not, though, it can obviously piss people off at the same time (*ahem*). Something I’m sure they’ve thought about, and probably tested, before even implementing them.  Here are two other ways it could certainly backfire:

  1. The odds of larger groups ever coming back could get lower. I can tell you I’d never bring one there, or even attend one for that matter, whether I enjoyed the food (and company) or not.
  2. The odds they come off as greedy/petty can become pretty high.  The first thing that came through my mind before “Oooh that would make for an awesome blog post!”  was, “Are you f’ing kidding me?  You’re not gonna steal my $2.00!”  Now obviously 5 seconds later I started putting myself in their shoes and asking myself why they’d do something crazy like that, but not every customer’s gonna put in the extra thought. No matter what the reasoning is behind it.

I can’t tell WHAT these restaurants want us to do at the end of the day (split the check more so they can get paid more, or NOT do it cuz we’re scared of the extra fees?), but either way it makes for quite the juicy financial gossip ;) And luckily in both my experiences I never needed to split the checks anyways – I just contemplated what I would have done if put in that situation (sucked it up and paid as a group). I don’t think I could part with $2.00 for something I feel should be free.  To me it all goes w/ the territory of owning and operating a restaurant.

What do you think about this?  Are you okay with paying $2.00 extra for this “convenience?”

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  1. Alexis October 17, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    In my experience, a “split charge” actually refers to two people sharing one plate of food, and is meant to discourage, for instance, a group of teenagers taking up valuable table space while they all share one 5-dollar plate of fries.

  2. Bex October 17, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    That’s been my experience as well – it’s a split plate charge, not split check.

    My fiance’s parents do this frequently – they split the main course and then each order a salad. Depending on the main course, it usually comes out to be around the same price as each parent ordering their own main course. This way, they’re not eating as much of the main plate, and they also get their salad. It varies by restaurant, of course, but it seems to work out when I’ve seen them do it.

  3. Erica October 17, 2011 at 7:54 AM

    I think this is stupid. People should be able to pay their own separate bill if they please to do so and they should not be charged a fee to do this. I would just stop going to that restaurant. Having said that, I hope Alexis is right with her interoperation of it.

  4. Damsel October 17, 2011 at 8:08 AM

    I agree that the picture you’ve posted is probably a split-plate charge, which I’m not entirely sure I agree with. I suppose it’s for the example Alexis posted above, about the group of teens, but does two dollars really even come close to what the restaurant loses in that situation? No.

    I’ve never seen a split-check charge, but we don’t go out to eat a lot, either…. so maybe it’s a new thing.

  5. Andy October 17, 2011 at 8:32 AM

    The first thing I thought of was the splitting of the dish charge as well. I’ve never seen a charge of splitting the check.

    But if this is true about splitting checks, don’t they already charge an 18% or so gratuity on large groups forcing you to tip that amount (I usually tip 20% because it’s easier to calculate so 18% is actually saving me money)? As far as I’m concerned, splitting checks is part of the price of doing business with groups. I suppose groups could give the waiter/waitress multiple credit cards and tell them to put “X amount on this card, Y amount on that card…” thus never actually splitting the check up. That would be much worse than actually splitting the check.

    As far as that extra fee restaurants pay for swiping cards, they should already be included in the prices of the food.

  6. joscelyn October 17, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Agreed. I’ve seen the split plate charge on an indie joint in town, and the standard(I assume!) Note on the check about gratuity being added for parties of X+.

    I’d be tempted to call at least one of the restaurants to clarify. But I’m a curious cat like that. Is NOT return if that was truly the case.

    On the plate split, I get charging extra for the second salad, etc. But are what about if you’re splitting a dessert? Will they start charging for the extra spoon/fork?

    When you think about how iced tea used to be $.69 or whatever, and now its over $2 in some places, you have to wonder how much is TRUE recoup and just charging more because they can.

  7. Kandice October 17, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    I work at an Italian restaurant and we have a split plate charge of $2.50 ONLY if the customer is using a coupon or ordering a special. I am 99% sure that the split charge you are discussing is also a split plate charge. Our restaurant sends out $8.99 gift certificates to our loyalty customers on their birthday. We also give large portions. I can’t tell you how many times these customers come in with their $8.99 coupon, order the only thing on the menu that is $8.99 (spaghetti marinara) and two waters, and split everything with another person. We are giving food away in the first place. They leave paying less than a dollar for a huge meal for two people and leave maybe a $1 tip on top of that (People rarely tip on the total before their discounts!). It sucks.

    The whole idea behind the $8.99 coupon is that you will bring a friend with you who will pay full price for a meal and maybe you will both order a couple sodas or glasses of wine. Or we hope that you will choose to apply your $8.99 gift certificate towards a much more expensive dish (say Shrimp Alfredo for $14.99) so you are still paying $6 plus on your “free” birthday meal.

    That is marketing, people. That’s why restaurants give away free food sometimes….they are hoping that you will make additional purchases.

    Now if someone wants to come in and pay full price for a meal without a coupon, then by all means, we do not charge them a split plate charge. But I’m sure you can see how we are losing money in the other instance.

  8. Martin October 17, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    I think it depends on the size of the group and the occasion. If you have 11 people out for a birthday the two bucks isn’t such a big deal. For a smaller dinner I can see it being a disadvantage.

    On top of this, it could self-consciously lead to us not wanting to go back to the place because we feel “ripped off.” This is what I would be worried about as the owner. I don’t want to be seen as ripping off patrons.

  9. Anna Miller October 17, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    This certainly is a frustration coming from the point of view of the customer, but from what I have heard from friends in the restaurant business, running one is hard. Especially if you are just starting up, and you are a Mom and Pop type place, you won’t be doing well financially for a long time. It is a big risk financially, so maybe the idea behind the two dollars is to just generate a little more money however they can. I almost think its like the airline industry. When times are rough, they are finding ways to charge you for everything. When I look at it from this point of view, I think about how times are hard for everyone in this economy, and I wouldn’t feel bad paying the two dollars for a place I loved, but otherwise, it is frustrating.

  10. cashflowmantra October 17, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Never seen a charge to split a check, but have seen an extra plate charge. I am curious to see if this really is for splitting up a check.

  11. Nicole October 17, 2011 at 9:24 AM

    I would assume it’s to split the meal also….extra cost for cleaning another plate, silverware, etc. Are you sure it was to split the tab?

  12. Kevin @ October 17, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    I’m with everyone else. I don’t think many businesses would do a split check charge, because it discourages large groups of paying customers from going to your restaurant. A split plate charge makes sense because it discourages cheapos from going to your restaurant.

  13. Edward Antrobus October 17, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    While the comments on splitting a plate make sense, I have seen (and been “victim” of) places that charged a split check fee. Since I’m pretty much always eating with friends when it happens, we pay as one and settle the bill amongst ourselves later.

    And I agree with Josceyln about drink prices. They are just ridiculous anymore. $2.50 seems to be the going rate anymore.

  14. J. Money October 17, 2011 at 9:47 AM

    To clear any confusion, it was most DEFINITELY a “split the check” fee that I experienced – at least at the first place I saw this (I didn’t double check w/ the 2nd one). I know because I made a joke that I wanted to split it 4 ways and wondered if that would cost me $8 instead of $2 ;) The waitress laughed half-heartedly and said it was only a one $2.00 charge. I ended up putting it all on my card and having others pay me cash.

    Very interesting to think about the “split the meal” cost though – never thought of that! (Or done it before). Feel free to discuss that more if you wish, it’s all fun to talk about ;)

  15. Babs October 17, 2011 at 10:17 AM

    As an old person, I can tell you from personal experience that the split-plate charge has been around for decades and used to be nearly universal. As they say, everything old is new again.

    It’s not surprising to see it resurface, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a split-check charge either. Anna Miller is absolutely right about how difficult it is to be successful in the restaurant biz–it’s dicey even in the best of times. Since we’re currently in the worst of times, restaurant owners are dealing with difficult challenges. Food and energy prices are through the roof, but customers don’t want to see higher prices on the menu. Fewer people are eating out and many of those who do are chasing bargains. Competition is fierce for those customers, so lots of restaurants are giving away food, hoping to make it up in some other way, as Kandice explained.

    The big restaurant corporations can play this game and survive, but the mom and pops are really struggling. While I like a bargain as much as the next person, I also like small businesses and think we need to nurture the good ones or we’ll be left with nothing but soul-less chains.

    My advice is to ignore the charge and listen to your stomach. If you like the food, pay the price. If a couple of extra bucks keeps a great restaurant open and profitable, it’s no big deal.

  16. Allison October 17, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    I’ve found this to be pretty common in New York City. I guess I’m just used to it so it doesn’t shock me. Here’s a prespective from a chef that I found on a food forum:

    Chef’s perspective (here’s why we do it):
    we prepare additional sauce, vegetable, starch and garnish (extra cost)
    need to make “x” amount per table to be profitable (split plates reduce this number.)
    fine dining restaurants operatate on smaller margins than casual, high-volume restaurants.
    I am not asking anyone to feel sorry for restaurant owners, but please realize that there are legitimate reasons for these charges–it is not just greed.

  17. Paige October 17, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    I would pay the whole bill for my friends just to avoid the surcharge. This kind of thing SO annoys me!

  18. Michael Senchuk October 17, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    To be honest, I probably put up much of a stink at the time, but I’d definitely reduce the tip I was leaving by a commensurate amount.

  19. Brian October 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    I have yet to see this fee, but when I was in San Fran a few weeks back the service staff looked at me like I was from another planet for asking to split the check. We showed up with a group of 20 people and told them up front we were all paying separate and then they still gave us one check. The part that irked me the most was they placed the order using a hand held computer so I know the software they had could do it. In the end we just had to do the math for them and tell them how much to charge on each card.

    I do think that if I went to a place that charged this, I would probably not be coming back to often, unless the food was dynamite!

  20. Money Beagle October 17, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    I think it’s a pretty poor practice. The ‘swipe charges’ and such are a cost of doing business. What’s next, a Landlord charge because they have to pay higher rent?

  21. PKamp3 October 17, 2011 at 11:28 AM

    Pretty rough; it’s going to hurt the waiters and waitresses in the end. I can imagine most groups already have a tip in mind so I bet charges like this come right off the top. Sort of like the ‘delivery fee’ on pizza: “I was Going to Tip $5 Anyway”. So, I wonder if I’d actually even pay the ‘extra’ $2, haha.

  22. Edward Antrobus October 17, 2011 at 11:38 AM

    I wouldn’t let a charge by the restaurant affect what I’m going to tip the waiter/waitress. It’s not their fault. I’m not afraid to leave a pretty bad tip if the service is bad, I’m not going to penalize them for the management’s decision.

  23. Sharon Widdop October 17, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Having been a food server as well as a restaurant manager, I agree that the “split” charge is usually if you split a plate. I’ve always found it obnoxious, but from the restaurants point of view, you always get a little more on your plate if you have the kitchen split it, than if you do your own “splitting” at the table. I’ve never found a restaurant that minds if you want to split it yourself. As for splitting the check, it is ALWAYS appreciated if you tell your server first. It’s a nightmare to have to split it after the meal is done!

  24. Babs October 17, 2011 at 11:52 AM

    Michael and everyone who might take out their irritation on their server: Most people don’t know this, but servers are part of a small group of workers who can be paid less than minimum wage BY LAW. Because of tips, a good server can still make okay money, and most will tell you they’re happy to take a little risk and rely on their hard work and ability to make a living. So, if they give you poor service, feel free to vote with your tip dollars. But they don’t cook the food, decide the prices, set the policies, or control the behavior of other diners. When you short-change a tip over something beyond the server’s control, you are simply punishing the innocent and losing an opportunity to give management useful feedback.

    Whenever I’m unhappy about something in a restaurant, I politiely ask to speak to the manager. I start by telling them I love their restaurant, and because of this I want to let them know they just haven’t met their own standards. I provide them with unemotional, constructive feedback and offer a possible solution. They are usually very happy to get good feedback, they want to keep their customers happy. They are also thrilled to interact with someone calm and logical, they get enough of the other type. Almost without exception, they thank me for the feedback and offer me some kind of gift in return. At one restaurant, I got an entire meal comp’d, they gave us four desserts to take home, and gave me $100 in gift certs so I would come back again! So which makes more human and financial sense: shorting the server a couple bucks, or letting management know they’ve missed the mark?

  25. Mysti October 17, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    I thought it was for splitting a plate of food as well.

  26. kasey October 17, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Restaurant people make me crazy – it is one of the few instances where I feel like people in a service industry take every opportunity to complain about their customers (see Kandice above). Everything is unfair, customers are terrible.

    I am an excellent tipper, and in a non-chain type of place I always try to pay cash to save them the fee. But I am really sick of extra fees for this and that – make it an easy and pleasant experience, and I will reward you. Set it up like you want to nickel and dime and give me a list of unpleasant rules and I will come right back at you with the same attitude. I don’t especially care what the reasoning is.

  27. retirebyforty October 17, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I have seen split the food charge, but not split the check. We (with Mrs.) sometime split a sandwich if we know it’s going to be huge. But there is no way I would pay $2 to split the check.

  28. Mal October 17, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    As someone who spent several years as a server, I would have HATED that. The owner may have a good reason for implementing such a fee, but you are right, a lot of people won’t take the time to think that through. And guess who gets the immediate backlash from angry customers? :( (As has already been proved here by certain comments.)

  29. Edward Antrobus October 17, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    @Kasey People in all industries complain about their customers. It’s not a restaurant thing, it’s a human nature thing. Maybe restaurants are one of the few industries that most people have worked in at one point or another, and definitely one of the few industries that almost everybody has patronized that the complaints are the most vocal and seen.

  30. Melissa October 17, 2011 at 2:26 PM

    As a former waitress, I can definitely agree that a charge to split the bill is pretty ridiculous! I’d be angry, too. That said, I would totally agree to like, a $20 penalty fee for any party of two or more than asks to split the bill at the END of their meal. Maybe $200. It’s than inconvenient. Seriously. If a party of 12 comes in, I can set it up to easily split the bill if they let me know before I start order (essentially, you assign each person a number, and the assign each item to the relative number), but it’s damn near impossible once everything has been ordered and delivered. And it takes forever.

    Sometimes when large groups of young people come in (or obvious groups or two/three families), if they don’t ask me to split the bill upfront, I would just split the bill ahead of time, and combine if it they don’t want it split. But still, that’s a lot of work if they don’t end up splitting the bill.

  31. Stephanie October 17, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Add me to the list of folks who at first thought J$ was talking about a plate-splitting fee!! I don’t see any problem with that, it’s fairly common. As for the fee to split the bill, I can understand that it costs the restaurant more in both time and money, but I can also see how it might hurt business. Although if it’s a single $2 fee to split the bill as many ways as you want (as opposed to $2 per split), then I don’t think I’d have TOO much of a problem with it. I guess I really don’t have much of an opinion on this one, seeing as I understand both sides of this situation.

  32. Carrie - Careful Cents October 17, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    I really don’t understand the logic for a restaurant wanting to implement this $2 charge. Even if it was for the reasons you mentioned, I would have the same reaction as you and not want to go there to eat.

    Plus, the restaurant should know that people will find ways around that like:
    1. Just put it all on one bill and pay each other back later
    2. One person orders the appetizer/drinks and one orders the entree, then both share everything

    People are already feeling nickled and “dined” (lol) with the state of the economy, banking changes and etc…I really hope restaurants don’t follow the trend.

  33. Annette October 17, 2011 at 3:50 PM

    I can see where the charge comes from and for certain restaurants I wouldnt mind it. However, I feel the restaurants with the most annoying ‘fees’ are ones that do not come off as ‘mom and pop’ at all.

    I’ve been to several restaurants in the Bay area who would not let us start our orders off separate (as in asking for separe checks before we order) and then being annoyed at the end that we were splitting the charge on 2 or 3 cards. In a situation like that, adding an additional fee would be more than annoying.

    Also split plate fees I love at more high end restaurants (where we havent been before) because with drinks, an appetizer, and dessert, plus the main course we like to not order too much food. I’ve had restaurants try to add it to appetizers too though, and thats one of the cases when it goes too far

  34. eemusings October 17, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    Hmm, I’ve never seen this but can’t say I’m surprised! It seems nothing is sacred these days … fees here, fees there. In NZ restaurants tend not to allow bill splitting if they don’t want to deal with it, rather than add a charge.

  35. Mortgage Free Mike October 17, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    As I part-time server (side hustle), I will tell you that it is a PAIN IN THE ASS when a group of 10 wants 10 separate checks and doesn’t tell you until the end. So, if you want separate checks, TELL THE WAITER BEFORE YOU ORDER. The process of separating the bill isn’t that difficult in the computer system, but MACROS (Restaurant computer system) typically only lets you print one check, then signs you out. So for a group of 10, I have to sign in 10 times to print 10 checks, then put them in 10 check books and find 10 pens so you can sign them. Oh, then I collect 10 credit cards and do it all over again. Time to close it out? I go back and add the tip, 10 times. With that said, I would never charge for this. I agree with most people. A split charge is generally to split an entree, not a check.

  36. Hunter @ Financially Consumed October 17, 2011 at 8:03 PM

    It’s unjustified and will cost tips. However, the fee that ranks even lower on the bankers that own restaurants list of scrooge-like fees, is corkage. I like BYO restaurants, you know the ones that let you bring in your own bottle of wine. But, when they charge $8 to open it, it ruins the meal.

  37. Vic Williams October 18, 2011 at 6:21 AM

    Hi. Thanks for this article. I recently relocated from South Africa to the United Kingdom and thought that this issue only existed in South Africa! I have discovered we have this kind of craziness in the UK as well. One comment I read here complained about $8 corkage. Go to SA because $8 is cheap. There you will pay anything from the equivalent of $10 – $25 depending on the perceived value of your drink. Good article and great discussion.

  38. J. Money October 18, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    Love reading these, guys :) Esp those who are SUPER passionate one way or the other! haha… $200 fee to split the checks at the end?? hahahaa… .cracks me up. I will agree though that it is ALWAYS better to get the check-splitting talk out of the way in the beginning than the end – it saves everyone involved a lot of time and heartache. Even if the answer is NO (which has happened to me on quite a few times) at least you know what you’re dealing with. And if you can’t eat there because of it for whatever reason, you have time to leave and find a diff. restaurant rather than get all F’d up at the end.

    Tipping is always one of my fave topics in our niche here cuz everyone has an opinion on it! :) So keep ’em coming, my friends — that’s the beauty of blogging!

  39. FB October 18, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    Split fees are bogus no matter what the cost or if its for plates or for the check. My wife and I split plates all the time because the portions are large and the cost high. Lower the cost of the food and the size of the portion and we will get two plates. I do not want to take leftovers home or have it sitting in my car if you are around town.

    Often we go out to eat before heading to the bar or a lounge to meet friends. We don’t want to fill up on food just enough to satiate the appeitite. You want to charge me 2$ for a split fee, fine that is 2$ less dollars the waitress is getting.

  40. KZ October 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Here in Europe, the wait staff will gladly split the check for you (at your table, no less!). You tell them what you ordered, and they tell you the total…easy!

  41. Jason October 18, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    I always feel bad when I ask to split the check at a restaurant. I’ll always try to split it among my friends first before asking them to.

    If I absolutely have to though, I always ask at the beginning of the meal. Regardless though, I don’t think it should cost anything. Most places have each customers meal entered separately anyways, so it shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

  42. J. Money October 19, 2011 at 12:44 PM

    @KZ — Yeah!!! I noticed that too at all the foreign places I’ve been, esp Czech. They split checks without anyone even asking! haha… I love it.

  43. Kat Skull October 19, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    I don’t want to have to pay the credit card spit, nor would I want to pay the plate split too! I know I’m not able to eat a whole plate of food, but why are restaurants charging an extra $2-5 on giving me an extra plate? I’m not getting more food…

  44. Gene October 20, 2011 at 6:40 PM

    I’ve never seen a “split-the-check charge.

    There’s one Mexican restaurant that I go to that charges to split the plate. But they do it for legitimate reasons. IE. you both get half the entre but also each get the full amount of beans and rice. However, if you just want to split a normal entre plate that they bring you they don’t even charge you for the split.

  45. Jen October 21, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    @FB: People like you just kill me. $2 less for the waitress? How is the split plate charge her fault? Just don’t patronize that restaurant and/or find a comment card to let management know that your reason for not coming back again is the split plate charge. Tell the right person in the right way, don’t punish the messenger.

    From experience in a restaurant kitchen, splitting very rarely results in the person/people getting more food, so I am not in agreement with the split plate charge. Besides, in most cases (there are exceptions as Kandice states above), people who split are ordering salads, drinks, desserts, appetizers, etc. that they may not have otherwise. When my husband and I split, it’s usually so we can try more menu items or because we are traveling and don’t want leftovers.

    I’ve never seen a split checks charge. As a former server, it’s not that hard to split a bill if you’re organized when people are ordering, even if they tell you at the end of the night. I’d always go into a large table keeping track of who ordered what separately for that reason. And usually split checks resulted in better tips for me anyway so I never minded. I would definitely no longer visit a restaurant that had a split checks charge. It’s completely unnecessary.

    My biggest opinion on all of this is tell the right people of your complaints (owners, managers). The server should only get a bad tip if they provide you with bad service.

  46. Mal October 21, 2011 at 11:01 AM

    Agreed with Jen. It’s pretty petty to take the fact you are irked at a charge out on the server. Servers have NO CONTROL over what management decides as far as pricing and charges, and they aren’t making more money from it. Take Jen’s suggestion and just don’t go to that restaurant anymore, and make sure the manager knows why. Trust me, that will make a bigger impression than just shorting your server’s tip.

    The ease of splitting up a check must depend on the software a restaurant in question uses. It wasn’t hard at all to split a check at my former place of work, no matter when the customers told me they wanted separate checks.

  47. J. Money October 21, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    @Jen – Interesting, you usually got MORE tips by splitting? That’s kinda cool! And I guess kinda makes sense too, rather than everyone lumping it in together and people always falling short cuz they don’t like to factor in tax/tip/etc when putting in their portion ;) I guess that makes up for the annoyance of splitting the checks for other people – seems you have it win-win since even that doesn’t bother you! Haha… thanks for sharing, never thought about that before.

  48. Stephanie November 13, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    Whenever I’ve seen that note, it was for splitting the plate, not the bill. But it’s an interesting concept, charging extra for split checks. I’ve gone to some places that are so used to everyone wanting to split that they just start with separate checks for everyone. Though I also went to a place where they had a limit (understandably) but we didn’t know until our 20+ people group were trying to split the bill. Ooops!

  49. J. Money November 13, 2011 at 11:25 PM

    Ouch! That must have been a headache, I hate ending up in those spots :( But I def. love ending up in those that split it automatically! :)

  50. Sissy October 5, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    I’m a server and I had a party of 25 people a couple days ago. ALL of them wanted to split their checks because it was a business lunch. Can you imagine the amount of work for me to pay 25 credit cards? Some people don’t even know how to use that darn machine! They seems typing hundreds number when it come to tip or PINs! It took me half hour to let them pay and not to mention the time wasted to remember who took what while ordering or to do my cash out at the end of the day with all that receipts! 2$ only?! Sometimes 20$ would not be enough for me! Pls choose another restaurant!!

  51. J. Money October 5, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Oh wow – now THAT is insane. I agree. And I’m totally cool with limiting check splitting for X amount of people too, ESP large parties! I actually don’t know many places that *would* split for a table of more than 6 or 7 people, that’s craziness. And super sweet of you to do that for them! I hope they left you big tips ;)

  52. Corinne January 17, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    The split check charge comes from the fact that it is incredibly annoying to split checks amongst a large group of people. If it’s two or three people, fine..whatever. But when it is a larger group and everyone splits the check.. You are running around in the middle of the dinner rush trying to figure out who drank the ice tea with the steak? Who had the salad with extra dressing with all the modifications and a cocktail and who had the salad as is and what drink did they get? who bought the dessert for everyone to take a dig at? Meanwhile, you have other tables who are trying to eat their meals and asking you to get things for them but you can’t because you’re dealing with that nonsense…so now you aren’t giving as good of service to everyone else. The charge is to possibly prevent people from asking their server to do this. It is much easier to take a card, swipe, run back to the table. Also, sometimes people skimp on the tip because the meal is now cut in half and it doesn’t look like much so they do to leave as much.
    I think if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant then you would understand this, if you haven’t…at least maybe now you know and can try to plan ahead before going out to eat. Your server is already bringing you everything you need and cleaning up after your friends/family. We didn’t sign up for figuring out finances as well.

  53. J. Money January 17, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    “Also, sometimes people skimp on the tip because the meal is now cut in half and it doesn’t look like much so they do to leave as much.” Very true. Same happens when everything is put on one big tab too, though. The cheapos never include tip (or tax) in there when they run their calculations in their heads. Leaving either less for the server, or the last one holding the lot to throw in more… It’s a tough job waiting, no doubt.

  54. k March 8, 2014 at 2:57 PM

    As a server, I have to say that we do dread separate checks. Especially if you do not tell us beforehand.
    Here are the reasons:
    1. If you don’t tell us before hand it is impossible to remember who had what. While this may seem simple to your party of 8. Please remember we are serving maybe 5-8 other tables. I doubt anyone can remember exactly what 40-50 people have eaten, drank, or split.
    2. Servers are on a tight schedule, you have to be constantly moving and attending All your tables. Check splitting can put you behind on service for all those tables because it takes considerable time to split one and sort the cash and cc cards. If its really complicated it can take up to 20 minutes, and that is 20 minutes your other tables suffer your absence.
    3. You spend the next hour or so trying to catch up. You lose tips from other tables because the service suffered.
    4. The polite thing to do is to total each individuals bill, write a list for the server stating the amounts and payment method, if its a credit card write the amount and the last 4 digits on the card or the card holders name. This way mistakes will not be made.
    5. Please try to remember this is not because your server is lazy or rude, this is a consideration to all your fellow diners in the restaurant.

    1. J. Money March 12, 2014 at 8:05 AM

      Great tips :) Especially bringing it up beforehand in the beginning – I find that makes things super easy on everyone too. Thx for stopping by.

  55. Jessica November 18, 2019 at 1:52 PM

    Well working as a server, it is a total hassle and takes a lot of time to split a check 12-20 ways and when you are slammed it takes time away from working for other customers. And I’ve noticed too, that when I have to split a check between a very large group of people, no one tips. I think a place should charge a fee to split a check, especially for more than five people.

  56. Melissa January 7, 2023 at 11:40 AM

    I’m a small restaurant business owner & I must admit the last sentence of this blew me away ‘ To me it all goes w/ the territory of owning and operating a restaurant.’ When you have a table of 6+ & everyone who orders wants a separate check, the time it takes the server to split the check & the measly tips they get as a result just aren’t worth the hassle. Customers have become incredibly entitled, extra this, extra that, a glass of water, then balk at the .50 charges for all their extras, I’m over it. We’re beginning a few for split parties tables 6 or more. If they don’t like it, they don’t need to come back. I’m tired of the abuse servers sustain, if you can’t afford to tip your server, you shouldn’t dine out. Furthermore, cities like Miami are now mandatory 15% gratuity & another line on receipt for additional gratuity. First gratuity dispersed amongst all staff, second gratuity to server. Customers keep acting like cheap fools, you’ll be seeing this everywhere. Owning & working restaurant industry is hard work. ‘To me it all goes w/ the territory of owning and operating a restaurant.’ ~ you’ve never worked a day in the restaurant industry.