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Splitting checks or splitting hairs? Paying for stuff in the age of Venmo

by AirTalk®

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A picture taken on June 20, 2012 at a restaurant in Quimper, western France, shows fork and knife on an invoice indicating the two Value-added tax (VAT) 7.0 and 19.6 percent rate. FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images

If you went to a restaurant with friends fifteen years ago, it’s likely that everyone at the table would toss in an even $20, for the sake of convenience.

But these days, apps like Venmo, have made penny-precision effortless. Cue a request for $19.87. Or $26.54, if you ordered that appetizer.

According to Teddy Wayne’s recent piece “Thanks to Venmo, We Now All Know How Cheap Our Friends Are,” money transfer platforms have made outings transactional and petty. What happened to sharing the bill as graciously as you share a meal?

Wayne’s article was met with a number of varied reactions, including pushback from readers who pointed out that penny pinchers don’t need an app to charge you the exact amount you owe and that Venmo levels the p(l)aying field for friends from different economic brackets and young people who are strapped for cash.

Who gets the check varies in different cultures too: sometimes, the head of a family pays for the bill while other family members politely bleat protest. Or, if you’re the one who issues the invitation, you might be expected to foot the bill.

How do you negotiate the sticky etiquette of who pays for what, be it with friends or family? How have money transfer apps facilitated or hindered that? Do you see generational or cultural differences in how people split the bill?


Teddy Wayne, novelist and column writer for the New York Times, where his recent piece is “Thanks to Venmo, We Now All Know How Cheap Our Friends Are;” his latest book is “Loner” (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

Amy Alkon, science-based manners expert and author of the book, “Good Manners For Nice People Who Sometimes Say the F-Word

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