QUESTION: Tim, a reader sends in an e-mail asking, “Sam, I have a friend who is notoriously cheap. Whenever we go out to eat with a group he disappears to the bathroom when the bill comes. Whenever we go out drinking, everybody buys a round of drinks except for him. What should I do? The last bill came out to $100 each from $70 because he and his wife disappeared! And why is it that every time we go out with clients together he never volunteers to put his corporate card out? He drives an expensive car, and always has expensive threads so why am I always stuck with the bill? It’s so frustrating!”
RESPONSE: Well Tim, I have to say that your friend is a 100% cheapskate, and you may want to stop inviting him out or doing anymore joint client events together. He is taking advantage of your kindness, and your willingness to let things slide. As far as I’m concerned, you can equate his lack of contribution to stealing. The next time he goes to the bathroom right before the check comes, just simply take your time and wait until he gets back to pay his fair share. Better yet, follow him to the bathroom, shake one out, and return together. He can’t escape!
The client event situation is tricky because you don’t want to look like a cheapskate yourself by asking to split the bill in front of the client. Nor do you want to have an awkward moment when the bill comes, and you don’t readily pay because it’s just you and the client with your friend nowhere to be seen. However, I’m sure you and many others have had their expense accounts squeezed with closer monitoring in this economy. Don’t let your friend’s alligator arms harm you and your business. Again, wait for him to return, and if he’s there already firmly ask him to put his card down to split the bill if he’s not making any motion. He cannot refuse in front of the client. An alternative is to simply pay to avoid awkwardness, and tell him to pay you half the bill in cash. Don’t let him say he’ll get you next time because it is a false promise. Tell him you need his portion to pay off your expenses.
Freeloaders are an undesirable bunch who nickel and dime people to death. The sure solution for preventing an unpleasant experience is to weed these people out of your social life, one by one. You don’t want to hang out with these “friends” because they don’t care enough about you to not take advantage of you. If they were truly a friend, they’d be clamoring over the bill and refusing to let you pay. Once you equate their cheapness to stealing, you won’t let them short change you ever again.
Readers, what are your experiences with cheap friends and how do you address the issue?
Have a great weekend everyone!