|Groupon seems to bring out the T. rex diner whose arms are too short to reach his wallet.|
Today, we're launching SF Etiquette, a weekly column in which I field your questions about dining out in 21st-century Bay Area restaurants. My somewhat specious qualifications: A) I go out to eat, professionally, somewhere between six and 12 meals a week. B) In my 20s I read every etiquette guide Miss Manners ever published. Hey, they don't teach you about things like dessert spoons and trousseaux in small Mennonite communities.
We lead with two questions, both from actual live humans, not voices in my head I made up because I was too lazy to poll my coworkers and friends before starting this column.
L.S.: If you buy a Groupon for a restaurant and invite your friends to share the meal, when you're splitting the check, do you still have to pay your part or should the others divide the bill? When I buy the Groupon, I end up paying more than I actually would have, while everyone else benefits. It sucks.
Divvying up a bill after a group dinner is always a fumble unless you own Facebook and are clearly treating everyone around you. In this situation, by rights, everyone at the table who's benefiting from the discount you purchased should count your purchase into their calculations. But you can see how, if you didn't say anything outright, they might treat your Groupon as a group gift.
So I'd recommend cultivating a ringer. Before the dinner, call up your closest friend in the party and explain how you've gotten stuck paying double for a so-called discount. Ask him or her, when the check arrives, to holler out something like, "Hey, L.S. bought that Groupon, so we shouldn't make her pay for the cost of it," and then push if anyone balks. Trust me, no one will balk, unless they're the kind of diner who always gives himself or herself a secret groupon at big outings. Those aren't your real friends. They're people you should just meet for coffee.
If that fails, don't buy any more Groupons.More »