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What Would You Do? $500 For Dinner That You Didn't Eat

What Would You Do? $500 For Dinner That You Didn't Eat

Group dining situations can introduce uncomfortable money moments from time to time, but I can't imagine being put on the spot for a $500 dinner bill like Tonya Bowman. She told her story to LifeWire, and it doesn't have a happy ending.

Tonya was invited to help celebrate her new acquaintance's birthday by attending a group sushi dinner. She only ordered rice, miso soup, and tea, and when the bill came the birthday girl toasted the seven guests saying, "Thank you all so much for my lovely birthday dinner. I really do appreciate it. You guys are great. Here's to you!" The bill's total was $3,450, which comes out to $500 per person when split evenly.

Instead of saying that she didn't feel obligated to pay as much because she only ordered a minimal amount of food, Tonya put $50 on the table and left the restaurant. The acquaintance sent Tonya an email asking that she repay the $450 that she had to put toward her birthday dinner because she had wanted to use that money for a spa day. Tonya never sent her a cent, and they are no longer acquaintances. How would you handle a situation like this?


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odieisme odieisme 8 years
you know I had situation when I had to pay a lot more for my food because of all the alcohol people ordered. I don't drink alcohol and the food cost like 100 bucks and alcohol cost another 100 bucks. They split the bill evenly and I was pretty pissed I had to contribute pay for everyone's alcoholic beverages. It really spikes up the bill! Even though I was pissed and protested I was expected to pay up anyway because everyone else was and waiting for me to contribute. Also one guy left early and left a short amount for his portion. The guy that left early had a birthday party after that and invited a bunch of people to the cheesecake factory. His friends ordered food and LEFT and his "real" friends had to pay the short amount while everyone else paid for what they ordered. After that no more dining out with people who are so inconsiderate of the fact that I DON'T drink alcohol and I certainly don't want to contribute pay for theirs.
odieisme odieisme 8 years
wow that's freaking outrageous! I think it was wrong for her to leave without giving an explanation, I mean at least confront the bi*ch for her comment about having everyone pay for her dinner. Also she's just an acquaintance, you don't ask someone you barely know to pay them $500. I would have left 20 bucks and told her off and left. Who wants a friend like that anyway? I wouldn't want to get to know someone like that, ever! It sounds like they are in the same circle of friends, how tragic.
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
I've had birthday dinners and I've always payed for myself, especially at an expensive restaurant. After a friend's Bridal Shower dinner the girl next to me goes, "I don't think the Bride-to-be should have to pay for her own meal." I was a little surprised since no one had discussed it before hand, but I didn't want to be the "cheap friend" so I paid for my meal and whatever my portion of the bride's meal would have been if we split it up equally. I learned in college to always ask for my meal on a seperate bill because there are always people that would leave early and not put enough in to cover their meal and tip.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 8 years
I don't even have $500 to my name right now so id be mortified. It's not as if this was the last meal of their lives(but that one probably comes free...) I'm aghast at the price.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 8 years
I think if someone told me I had to pay $500 for soup, rice, and tea, I would probably panic and bolt, too.
bchicgrl bchicgrl 8 years
I want to see a copy of the bill because there's no way that sushi would cost that much even for 8 people. I would think maybe 500 max for all 8 and that would be with booze.
lms lms 8 years
That amount is definitely ridiculous even for a high end sushi restaurant. I have been to Nobu a couple of times and I think that even if they ordered the Kobe Beef(which is priced by the ounce) and a ton of drinks and sushi, it would be hard to get that kind of bill. I am not really a drinker, so I don't know how many drinks each person would have had. I would not be paying that amount either, but I wouldn't have snuck out. I would have told them.
geebers geebers 8 years
I agree that $500 is out of control but she should have spoken up like a mature adult and said she was leaving $50 because that was what she owed. End of discussion.
NadiaPotter NadiaPotter 8 years
I was already in that situation, but not at that cost! YIKES but yes, we order food and stuff... but the sisters of the birthday girl order a lot of drinks and appetizers... but we only said that we didn't order that much and it was unfair. And we didn't order drinks and other stuff because we didn't want to, not because we didn't want to spend, still we did tell them and pay just a little more of what we spend, and let the "drinkers" spend the most.
cageyme cageyme 8 years
I'm glad this woman stood her ground about the extra $450. It sounds like she overpaid even contributing the $50. I would have said something about getting a separate check at the time, however. I actually did that recently at a group dinner. One person decided that we should only order a few entrees and then share them. I said, "You can do that if you want, but I'm hungry and I want my own!" I also got a separate check. Here's a variation on this subject: A friend of mine went to a bridal shower luncheon. Everybody put in the amount of their own meal plus tax and extra for a generous tip. One girl -- a co-worker of the bride -- said that she would take the cash and put the meal on her credit card to "make it easier on the waitress." On the way out, the bride realized that she had forgotten one of the gift bags. My friend went back to get it. She saw the credit card slip still on the table. The girl had put only the meal and tax on the card. She didn't leave any tip at all and pocketed the cash difference. My friend, a waitress herself, apologized to the waitress and gave her the small amount of cash that she still had in her pocket. The bride was notified and she said that she would handle it. I don't know what happened after that.
OHmeetsBK OHmeetsBK 8 years
Wow - I feel really badly for her. I would probably have done the same thing. I would have wanted to say something/be assertive but I think I would have run too in order to not be ganged up on by 6 other women.
thelorax thelorax 8 years
I still can't get over the $3500 bill for 7 people. WOW :-o
death-by-chocolat death-by-chocolat 8 years
Seriously- last year my hubby and I took a 5 night trip to the Bahamas at an all inclusive resort for only $700pp. We had endless food and drinks, a cool resort playground, a beach, AND roundtrip flights for only $200 more than what these people paid to eat one meal.
uaintkidin uaintkidin 8 years
This is why I always, always, always ask for separate checks. I hate money! It makes everything so hard. And even on your birthday there should be no expectation that people want to pay for your meal! I was think it's the company your with that should matter - not whether they are going to pick up your tab or not.
g1amourpuss g1amourpuss 8 years
I know.. she should have got a hotel room and had a pool party or something more useful. $500 worth of sh!t in their guts. What a waste.
death-by-chocolat death-by-chocolat 8 years
Okay, besides the fact that both Tonya and the friend were being immature, ... who the heck thinks it is reasonable to spend $500pp on a single meal? I spend less than that on buying groceries for a whole MONTH for *two* people. Even if you HAVE the money to do that, its just idiotic to actually do so. Put your money to better use.
g1amourpuss g1amourpuss 8 years
Woooow, I would have told her to take her birthday and her spa treatment and to shove it. (I keep a tally of what I order when I'm out with other people.)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Who doesnt talk about the bill before hand, when ordering we usually say "dutch" or "its on one bill" and if its a big group out for a persons birthday we all agree to help pick up THE BIRTHDAY GIRLS dinner, not the whole shebang, and if the bday girl makes a pig of herself to take advantage of her "friends" she can eat that bill along with the 3000 worth of sushi. Nobody communicates anymore. i swear
Schaianne Schaianne 8 years
Ok, I LOVE sushi and have NEVER paid that much for it! If this wasn't discussed ahead of time and an approximate amount of money per person mentioned - she has no reason to feel obligated to fork out $500. "I wanted to use that money for a spa day"??? Guess you should have thought of that before you put a supposed friend on the spot like that. I can't blame the girl for not having anything more to do with her "friend" - the whole situation is such a shame!
MsWalton MsWalton 8 years
Was the meal blessed by the Pope? Because that is ridiculous!! That's exactly why when I go out to eat w/anyone, I always get my own bill. That way, I don't have to hear anything from anyone about what I failed to pay. But, I don't blame her for walking out.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
1) I have had stellar quality sushi and even being absolutely face-stuffingly self-indulgent, and WITH 2 other people could not spend 500 dollars easily on all THREE of us - where in the hell did they go? Did that include the plane flight? :P 2) A THOUGHTFUL friend would not assume everyone has 450 bucks to splash out (without warning) on a meal and would have made some sort of prior arrangements to avoid any sort of discomfort or embarrassment. (It's called good manners, nowhere is it written that a birthday is a license to be a jackass). Good riddance to idiot friends, I say.
shepptacular shepptacular 8 years
No way! 1. This is an can't be so oblivious as to invite out people who are not your closest friends to an expensive place where you expect them to pay your share. And who is going to a sushi place where the bill is over 1,000 dollars. That's just frivolous. there is no 2 I just like starting with 1
TsuKata TsuKata 8 years
Damn. I feel bad about having my birthday dinner at a place that costs $60 a head; I always pick up the tab for drinks for my guests to help offset the cost. My friends and I are well-off, too...that's just polite to me, though. I can't imagine forcing my friends to pay $500 a head at my birthday dinner, and I certainly can't imagine doing it without giving them a solid heads up as to the expected cost. Part of me thinks there must be another side to this story. It's just too horrible to be true!
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 8 years
i don't think that she should have paid the $500, but i do think it's shady that she left without saying anything. why not be assertive? sure, maybe someone should have said, "Tonya barely ate anything, she shouldn't pay as much," but why not bring it up yourself?
SugarKat SugarKat 8 years
$3500!? Really?! I would've put in my part and given the lady a $20 gift card to Trader Joe's as my GIFT and would've left. I wouldn't WANT to be friends with someone like that. That's just too much. However, I wonder if her portion with tax & tip was more than $50 at a restaurant that posh...
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