Coupon conundrums

Are you a Groupon groupie or a LivingSocial lover? I have been off and on. It’s always fun to get a deal, and I’ve gotten some great ones on everything from haircuts to upscale dining to car detailing.

A friend suggested I write a post about how to handle using restaurant coupons when you are meeting a buddy for a meal. She wondered if you should apply the coupon to the whole bill, which means your friend gets a better deal because she didn’t have to pay for the coupon in the first place. Or, do you split the meal and apply it to just your meal since you purchased it.

I have to be honest; her question stumped me for a bit. I had to think about etiquette in general before I was able to arrive at an answer. The premise of etiquette is to be gracious and kind and to never make anyone feel uncomfortable. For instance, if you eat something in front of someone you should always offer to share it with them. That’s being gracious. Therefore, I surmised, if you use a coupon at a meal you must offer to apply it to the whole bill, otherwise you come across as selfish.

I started to think that maybe I’d grant an exception to the rule for people who are on really tight budgets, but what I keep coming back to is it’s polite to share and to not share is, well, rude. If sharing the coupon would still make the cost of the meal too expensive then suggest a less expensive restaurant – instead of Ruth’s Chris Steak House ask if your friend is OK with Bill’s Pizza.

The reverse holds true too. If your pal invites you out for pizza and your coupon is for a four star restaurant it could be awkward for her if you suggest going to the expensive restaurant even with the coupon. She might be on a budget as well. But if your discount is for a restaurant that’s a step above the cost of a pizza meal, it would be fine to mention you have a coupon for a restaurant and ask if she would like to go there instead of pizza.

A couple more things; never use a coupon at a business meal, especially if you are paying. It will make you look stingy. And, when you tip the waiter, be sure to tip on the amount of what the bill should have been before the coupon, which is 15% to 20% before tax. I’m afraid many wait staff get shorted by people who tip on the amount on the bill after the coupon.

What questions do you have about using coupons? How would you feel if someone used one on a first date?



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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>

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