Sunday, July 20, 2008

Paying Up the Business Meal

Settle the bill quietly with a credit card or with a large bill if you are paying cash. Don’t fiddle around with small bills or change.
It’s fine to review the bill for accuracy. You should have a fair idea of what the total should be before it arrives. In any case, don’t study the thing like the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you notice a discrepancy, deal with it after your guests leave. But please, no calculators at the table.
Nothing damages the effect of a smooth business meal as much as haggling over who should pay. Unfortunately, this situation is more apt to happen if the host is a woman and the guest is a man. If the subject arises, depersonalize it: “I invited you, and besides, XYZ company would like to take you to lunch.”
Another tactic that is especially helpful is to arrange beforehand for a credit card imprint and for the addition of 18 to 20 percent for tip. This strategy avoids the presentation of a check at the table. Before you leave the table, collect the checkroom tickets from your guests so that you can tip the attendant—at the rate of $1 per garment—on the way out.

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