Social Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

When someone offers to pay for your meal, or hotel, car rental, etc. does that influence what you order?

Asked by LuckyGuy (36523points) April 11th, 2015

If someone is taking me out to dinner I tend to order something that costs just one step up from the bottom. If I were paying for my own meal I would likely order something more expensive but if my host is paying I go the cheap route. I’ll skip drinks and/or dessert.
I do the same with hotels. I’ll pick the smallest room if someone else is paying but will go bigger if I do it.
I have a relative who does the opposite. If he is told someone else is paying he splurges and goes big.
What do you do?

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33 Answers

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I do the same thing, it’s just sensible not to take advantage. I could not feel good about myself if I did anyway.

Blackberry's avatar

Definitely. If someone is going to pay for me I get the cheapest thing. If I’m buying my own drinks: Gin & Tonic. You’re buying my drinks: Coors light.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I too follow your logic. But the etiquette of the thing can vary considerably depending on my perception of my host’s financial circumstances. It isn’t unusual to find myself out dining with dear friends who are less fortunate monetarily than myself. They know the drill, and the awkward matter of affordability is avoided because they know I won’t allow them to pay. They are allowed to pick up the tip. On the other hand, the fat cats in my circle know better than to invite me out, unless they plan to get “hit”, because I don’t dine out to skimp.

Aster's avatar

I do what you do. Ordering something expensive is just plain rude.

Jaxk's avatar

I tend to do the same thing but if I’m buying I will typically order something more expensive and let everyone know before they order what I’m getting. Hopefully to make them more comfortable ordering something similar. It doesn’t always work or maybe they really want the bologna sandwich.

wildpotato's avatar

I order the next level down from what they get, and I pay the tip.

If I’m treating someone else I prefer to not say anything about it until the time comes to pay the check, so they get what they would’ve gotten if left to their own devices.

Blondesjon's avatar

I guess I’m the odd man out on this thread. I do the exact opposite and get what I want to get.

If I offer to pay for someone I would expect them to get what they want. I wouldn’t have offered to pay if there were a bunch of passive/aggressive unspoken rules behind it.

anniereborn's avatar

It depends on who is offering really. For the most part I try to go as cheap as I can. If it’s someone I am very close to who I know can afford it, I may go up some.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

Yes, I am very careful not to order expensive things.

LuckyGuy's avatar

These are interesting responses and seem to run the gamut. I know who I’m inviting out! :-)

I’ve mentioned before the most important part of the meal is the company and the social aspect.
It isn’t so much the money. If someone orders the $22 entree plus drinks and dessert vs the $15 meal I can afford it. But I do feel like they are taking advantage of me. I would never do that to a host. It’s no big deal but it is enough to put a sour taste in my mouth and even change my opinion of the person. It just turns me off – like foul language. I make sure to not let it happen again. I can’t help it.

jca's avatar

If I’m out with friends and they’re paying, I’d probably do what I do when I’m on my own – try to be somewhat cost-conscious, assessing what I am able to eat and how I can get a variety for not a lot of money. For example, when I go with my daughter (whether I’m paying or someone else is) I try to either have one entree and we share it, or we do a few different things, each being pretty low budget (for example at a diner – two bowls of soup, a small salad or eggs, maybe we’ll drink water, maybe we’ll order dessert as a tradeoff. Our total bill is usually around $15). I try to be as careful with other people’s money as I would be with my own. I was taken out for my birthday to Outback, and I had a great little steak for $12. 6 oz, that’s all I could eat, I could barely finish it and I brought a coupon because why not.

Hotels – when the job pays, I go where they put me. They make the arrangements, usually at a Marriott or something.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It does. Where I might order an expensive wine or whatever I really fancy if I was paying myself, I’d hold back if someone else was paying and order a moderately priced wine and something less expensive from the menu. For certain, I would not order the most expensive items. That seems very gauche to me.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You might wonder why I am asking.
I am hosting an event and want to pay the hotel bill for the attendees. I did not tell anyone I Intended to do this. I figure they will be more frugal if they think they are paying with their money. Then, when they check out, the bill will be covered.

I have a couple of relatives who are on the selfish side and would absolutely run the bill up with room service, in-room bar etc. if they thought someone else was paying. They have no common sense. Or maybe they do…

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

^Good plan. Them not knowing will mean people who will be frugal will order what they really want and the greedy, bad mannered people will order as if they are paying themselves too! Win-win for you.

JLeslie's avatar

Rarely. If it does influence me, it would be that I would spend less, be less extravagant. I would never want to take advantage. If someone rents me a car or pays for my hotel room, which has happened to me more than once, typically they set it all up, and I don’t inject any sort of opinion about it, I just say, “thank you.” The room would have to be a horror for me to ask to change it, and then I would want to pay for the upgrade. A meal can be different, because I am usually ordering for myself.

If I know they have a lot of money and they are extravagant for themselves I wouldn’t worry about the money at all. I am almost always the most inexpensive check at the table. I don’t drink, I don’t eat lobster, I rarely eat three course. As far as hotels, I prefer a suite, but an average hotel is fine. Rental cars, I don’t want a big gas guzzler, but I do want it to be at least as big as a Honda Civic, especially since my accident.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy I just read everyone’s answers after I already answered. If I were you I would tell the guests you are covering the cost of the room, and all they are responsible for is any incidentals like meals, calls, etc. It’s still very generous, and you won’t have to worry about the wild card. In the end you can pick up the whole bill if you want.

If you treated me to a hotel room, and I didn’t know until after the fact, I would feel badly if I had ordered room service twice and bought some goodies at the hotel store. I wouldn’t want you to pay for those extras.

When we went to Japan our friends wanted to pay for everything once we were there. It was too generous. We gave them a few hundred dollars. We insisted. They still spent hundreds on us. We stayed with then in their apartment, except the night we stayed in Kyoto.

rojo's avatar

I order what I would have ordered if I were paying. My tastes are not too extravagant. I am more the beer and pretzel type than the caviar and champagne.
Same with cars and hotels; If I am happy in a compact car and the standard room, I will go with that rather than upgrade. I feel like I am taking advantage of others if I do more than I normally would.

If someone else is ordering or booking I take whatever they give no matter if it is more or less than I would do for myself. I am their guest and appreciate the gesture.

marinelife's avatar

What I would normally order.

Coloma's avatar

I take the middle path, nothing too extravagant but not a salad and ice water either.
I do not drink away from home unless I am on vacation so in that case I might have a cocktail or 2 and then pay for anything above and beyond. Nobody has ever rented a car for me, except me.
I like to be generous so when I have offered to pay someones way I WANT them to get what they WANT and not be anal about it. It is a GIFT, enjoy!

Blondesjon's avatar

@Coloma has reminded me that I would insist on paying for my own alcohol. Nobody should have to foot that bill.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The wedding is over. Everyone is back home. And I learned a lot about people.

I did not tell anyone I had planned on taking care of the bills.

Rather than walk to Publix or the interesting restaurants right down the road to grab some food some people ate at the incredibly expensive hotel restaurant. The same people (both unemployed) ordered pina coladas by the pool at $17 each. “Geez! I’ve been here only a few hours and I’ve spent 120 bucks!” said the genius. Anther night he and his SO were at the bar when I walked by – 4 appetizers cost $80 (I didn’t pay for his stuff.)
One couple rented a car for 3 days (4 because National charges by the day.) they showed up in a convertible. I figured they were upsold a few dollars per day by the slimy agents. As they were leaving I slipped $150 into his pocket to cover the expense. – (I did a little mental math, $21 per day, x 4 days worst case, add tax… should be less than $100 -so I’ll give him $150.) Nope. I found out later he paid $114 per day for that stupid car!!! Plus insurance, plus other coverages, plus roadside, plus tax. $680!!!
One couple got a suite facing the water at double the cost of my own room.

At the other end of the spectrum. One young guy checked in and check out every day. Why? Because it is cheaper and he gets more free points. He gets some program status level if he has more than 15 stays in 3 months or 30 days in 3 months. (something like that.) He went to Publix. He rented an econobox car and refused the upsell – but they did not have the car he wanted so they had to give him a larger one for free.
Guess who’s the engineer.

Everyone had a wonderful time.

anniereborn's avatar

Thanks for the update. Quite the social experiment it turned out to be.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Yes, it was! I learned that Forrest Gump was right: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
In general the ones who could least afford it, had the most expensive tastes. He can’t pay his electric bill or his car insurance (He’s 40 and his mother is still paying for his mortgage.) and he has the nerve to run up a $300 bar bill?!
One of guests, on cognitive disability, did not understand that water at the bar cost money. The bartender asked for her room number and every time she got thirsty she’d go there and get a glass of water with a lemon in it for $3.50 instead of to the water fountain for free. We didn’t discover this until way too late. She also was stopped at airport security because she brought in a big 16 oz. bottle of hand lotion. We told her no liquids or gels above 3 oz. Why bring it? “It’s not a liquid. I don’t know what a gel is.” Arrrgh!
Interesting experiment indeed.

Coloma's avatar

@LuckyGuy

Haha…people!
I have an ex friend whose husband made like 200k a year and they were always broke. My life savings at the time was equal to one years salary of her husband and yet she constantly wanted to borrow large sums of cash. Money for a boob job, travel etc.
I lent it a couple times and was PIF but it got to the point where I was becoming The Bank of Coloma. lol

Seriously, you guys can’t live on 200k a year and are behind on your property taxes to the tune of like 10k? It took me a few years to catch on that I was being used, put an end to that right quick. lol

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma People like that drive me crazy. My BIL’s are like that, or they were, maybe they have changed their ways (hopefully) after the last time they wound up in a bad situation.

jca's avatar

@LuckyGuy: Thanks for the very interesting update. Amazing about the people eating and drinking all kinds of stuff, including $3.50 glasses of water. Amazing about the couple having the convertible – probably a car that sat in the parking garage for 90% of their stay.

The couple that stayed in the suite facing the water that was double the cost of your room, did you cover the cost of their suite? Just curious.

Very interesting little fact about checking in and out of room for more points. Does the hotel give a hard time about doing that or is it no problem?

I hope that everyone that you paid for was very grateful and gracious.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I was more upset with the hotel bartender. It is obvious the customer is “mentally challenged”. But she is over 50 and did go to the bar and did order the water. She probably responded “yes” to the question “Would you like a lemon in it?” and, bam!, it’s a mixed drink. She knew her room number and, bam!, bar charges applied.
“Luxury hotel” means “All luxuries cost money.”

Coloma's avatar

I love the outrageous ” corkage” fees some places charge to.
$15 dollars to uncork a bottle of wine?! Give me the damn wine opener. lol

jca's avatar

@LuckyGuy: I’m wondering if the bartender did say to the guest “Do you know you can get free water over there in the fountain?” his management would be upset with him for doing such a thing. In other words, he’s not paid to think or be kind, he’s paid to serve drinks and maximize profits.

JLeslie's avatar

The people who never have any money who have expensive taste—that’s why they never have money.

I would write the hotel about the water at the bar. That’s ridiculous. Was it tap water? That’s free.

jca's avatar

My mom calls it “Champagne taste, beer budget.”

LuckyGuy's avatar

I remember my parents using that expression! I hadn’t thought of it in years. Thanks!

Inara27's avatar

I always order something inexpensive and skip any alcohol. I appreciate the gesture that someone is buying me a meal, and could not stand to soak them for as much as possible.

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