The dinner host sends a bill to his friends. Why the Venmo request is rude.

  • USA TODAY asked experts if it’s socially acceptable to charge guests for dinner.
  • There are exceptions to the rule that the host must manage all costs depending on the circumstances.

It’s late on a Friday night. You came home with a full stomach and fond memories after dinner at your friend’s apartment. Your phone rings.

To your surprise, your friend sent you an undiscussed Venmo request for $25. They charge you for the homemade meal you just enjoyed together.

Now you’re sitting in your own kitchen wondering: are you okay? Should I be surprised? How can I answer? Is the food we just ate worth that much?

Amber Nelson, a Twitter user who had this experience, questioned on Twitter earlier this month after she was charged $20 for homemade pasta at a dinner party she attended.

“It makes me not want to take any more offers in the future,” she said. said in a later tweet.

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Nelson’s tweet went viral and a conversation ensued both on the social media platform and with the media, including the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Return an invoice for your time, wtf”, Twitter user @whotheFisFran suggested.

Charles Hunter III, another Twitter user who identifies as a personal chef, called the situation “Savage.”

“If you intend to charge people for a meal you invited them to, that should be discussed with the invitation. Other than that, you are a garbage human being. Period,” Hunter III wrote. .

Others added that they ended up in similar situations. And San Francisco Chronicle readers submitted stories of their own dinner bill surprises that were published in a follow-up article.

So, is it socially acceptable to charge people for dinner? USA TODAY asked the experts.

A dinner at the Statens Museum for Kunst for Copenhagen Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2020 on August 6, 2019.

Is it okay to charge people to dine at your place?

In short, the answer is no.

“It’s never appropriate to ask your guests for a refund if you invited them to be – key word here – a guest at your dinner party,” Elaine Swannlifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of The Swann School of Protocolsaid USA TODAY.

Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, agreed that the cost of a dinner party is usually borne by the host.

And one the retroactive claim is completely irrelevant. Whitmore said it’s never appropriate to send your guests an invoice without first discussing it.

“If a host sends a request for payment without prior discussion, it shows a lack of courtesy and consideration for their guests,” she continued. “This host assumes that everyone can and will pay the fee. The epitome of bad manners.”

While it is inappropriate to charge guests for their meal, it is appropriate for a guest to arrive with a small gift to present to the host. A thank you note is also polite.

There are exceptions — but a host must provide expectations

There are exceptions to the rule depending on the circumstances.

If you’re hosting a fundraising dinner to raise money for charity, there’s no harm in asking for payment. And, if that’s what Whitmore calls “progressive dining” in which different hosts offer different dishes, then that’s fine, too.

Or, the ever-popular potluck, when everyone brings a dish to the host.

“It should be agreed in advance,” Swann said, noting that the concept of something like a potluck is very different from a dinner party.

Regardless of the type of dinner, the expectation of payment should be set – including the cost – before the event, eliminating any confusion or bad feelings.

How should one respond if asked to pay for a dinner retrospectively?

Finding yourself in an unexpected financial situation, such as owing money to a friend, is always uncomfortable.

Swann said the only way to approach this kind of situation is in a direct manner.

“For the person receiving this dinner bill, the best way to respond is to be very upfront and very direct and let them know that ‘When I was invited to your party, I didn’t expect to have to pay'” she said.

It’s important to let your friend know that you feel offended and have been taken by surprise.

“Too often we think etiquette means we should avoid speaking up for ourselves or not telling someone if we’ve been wronged, but there’s nothing further from truth,” she said.

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Joseph K. Bennett