Daily deal sites such as Groupon have become very popular over the last few years – they allow you, as the client, get to take advantage of some really great deals. On Groupon Coupons, Nordstrom has over 30 coupons available, which will lead to some real savings. In other cases, restaurants deals can be particularly enticing, often allowing you to get a free entrée, drinks, etc.
Of course, these deals and how you use them raise some interesting etiquette issues, especially when it comes to dining out with friends. Is it okay to use your voucher when eating out with friends and, if so, do you use it to pay for only your portion or do you set it off against the whole bill? What is the correct etiquette in these situations?
Who is it that you are going with?
Any time that a bill needs to be split; there is an opportunity for problems to arise. Why not chat to your friends and see what they think? Technically, since you paid for the voucher, you are still paying your share but your friends may not see it that way.
If you are going with friends that you know well, the chances are that they won’t object. If you are going out with acquaintances, or people that you don’t really know all that well, it is better to keep the voucher for a different day.
What is the occasion?
Is it a get-together where you will be running separate bills anyway? Then go ahead and use your voucher.
If it is a special occasion – maybe a friend’s engagement, for example, then you should apply the discount against the whole bill, not just your portion, or not use it at all.
What about the tip?
Remember that you should still contribute the full value of your meal when it comes to the tip, no matter what discount was applied. Not doing so is just going to make you look mean. The server still delivered the same service they would have had you paid full price and they are losing out if you pay less.
The best answer to what can be a sticky question is undoubtedly, if you are in doubt, ask the people you are going with what they think upfront or keep the voucher for another time.
What about the cost of the actual voucher?
Another sticky issue can arise when the voucher is being applied to the whole bill – do you get credit for the cost of the voucher in the first place? Say, for example, you had to pay $10 to get $30 off the cost of the meal. To make things easier, let’s assume each of you had the same meal – if the bill is split evenly, you’ll have paid $10 more than everyone else, because of the voucher cost.
In the simplified example, we are talking about $10, not a lot of money, but the principle is the same for $10 and $100.
Now whether or not the cost of the deal is counted or not can depend on who invited who. Generally speaking, it is assumed that if you invited the others, you are going to pay the cost of the voucher yourself.
If this doesn’t sit right with you, it is a good idea to communicate this before you and your friends go out – then your friends do have some say in the matter as well. It is too late to assume that everyone is on the same page when the check is on its way.
All in all, the issue of whether or not to use your voucher when dining socially can be a little tricky – if you and your friends communicate properly, however, there is no room for misunderstandings.