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I was eating with friends at a diner today (Thanksgiving), and I told the waiter I wanted to just pay for my own food. But we just got a single bill for all four of us. I paid for my food (plus tip) with a debit card at the front desk. But when I saw the receipt, it looked about ten dollars too much. (I'm aware that the staff may have been overloaded with things to keep track of, since it was Thanksgiving.)

So, is there any way to avoid getting overcharged for the items I ordered? And, preferably, to make it go as smoothly as I can?

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In more high-end restaurants they can track orders of each of the guests and provide separate checks in their order management system. In more "common" establishments, you'll probably have to split your bill with your friend yourself, unless the server does this for you manually.

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    You can always ask or separate checks when placing your order. Most resturants these days can split a bill onto multiple cards if you tell them how much is go be charged to each card. (My crowd tends to just do an even split if that's anywhere close to fair; it isn't worth the effort to divide it up more precisely... then those of us who tip high will throw in whatever extra we feel is necessary.) – keshlam Nov 28 '15 at 8:49
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One possible option, depending on your dinner habits, would be to ask for the bill right when you place your order - especially since your friend would likely be getting their bill at the end of the meal as usual, it makes it a lot less likely for your bills to be mis-divided, and since the bill is generated so close to your order, it seems like it would be less likely to have any errors from mis-remembering who ordered what.

We started to ask for the bill upfront like this when we were in a rush (have someplace to be, or a long drive, or it's getting late), but once we realized it was a possibility we have started to do so more often just because it's convenient - and even "avoiding confusion when splitting the bill", or "so I don't have to worry about it later" are perfectly reasonable explanations (or indeed "someone mentioned this neat trick") if you feel you must say why you would like it so early. Just make sure you communicate clearly that you only want your own bill to the server, and that it doesn't mean you have to cut out early to your friend (unless you want to, of course) and all should be well.

This trick works really well for us because we rarely get additional chargeable items - usually no dessert, extra dishes, or chargeable drink refills, and if we do it's not much bother to order up front or pay separately when it happens so rarely. Obviously, if you habitually get these add-ons, then you would ask for the bill later in your meal than if you do not. Alternatively, a person can use this trick to avoid ordering those kinds of extras if they would like to consciously cut back on them.

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