“When he moves, am I supposed to ask for my $3 back?"
May 24, 2016 8:42 AM   Subscribe

 
If your friend even thought about charging you for wine you drank at their house, Venmo is revealing them to be a petty jerk, not turning them into anything.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:46 AM on May 24, 2016 [100 favorites]


But on her way out the door, Stephanie was surprised to see a notification on her phone from the digital wallet app Venmo. Her friend had just requested a payment of $6 for the wine they had shared.

What the actual fuck? I guess Venmo is a good app if you really want to weed out people from your life.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:48 AM on May 24, 2016 [25 favorites]


It sounds like your friends are assholes. This is not an IT problem. I'm closing this ticket.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:49 AM on May 24, 2016 [178 favorites]


The worst thing about Venmo (which is not Venom no matter how much Autocorrect insists) is that it makes your transactions public by default. So not only does it enable people to be petty jerks, it makes their petty jerkdom a matter of public record.
posted by SansPoint at 8:51 AM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


SansPoint: "So not only does it enable people to be petty jerks, it makes their petty jerkdom a matter of public record."

this, of course, may be a feature rather than a bug.
posted by chavenet at 8:56 AM on May 24, 2016 [27 favorites]


All tools/technology alter us.

The point of the article is that Venmo doesn't "reveal" a personality that was already there, but it actively changes and induces certain behavior.

(Not to gun-Godwin, but:) After all, if you support gun control, this is why you probably disagree with the statement "guns don't kill people, people kill people" - you may say, "no, guns actively induce certain behavior, they rapidly escalate situations, people shoot guns when they would have otherwise thrown a punch. Guns are not neutral but let you perform their agenda more easily."

So.... I guess what I'm saying is: I also disagree with the statement "Venmo doesn't make people into assholes; they were already assholes"
posted by suedehead at 9:00 AM on May 24, 2016 [23 favorites]


I think the easiest solution to this is simply never to sign up for Venmo.
posted by hippybear at 9:01 AM on May 24, 2016 [14 favorites]


Just remember that Venmo is only for acting like a jerk with your friends and not for buying or selling stuff.
These Venmo scams work so well because the scammers know a few things that you don’t. They are taking advantage of your assumption that because transacting on Venmo is simple and quick, it is also always safe. They are gambling that in Venmo’s murky realm of “merchant transactions,” the businesslike act of “sending your roommate half the rent” might be kosher, but collecting their money for “event tickets and Craigslist items” probably won’t be. Most importantly, they are exploiting the little-known fact that funds flickering onto our phone screens with a perky green plus sign and a couple emojis are not really ours as instantaneously as they may seem. In short, these scammers are slipping into the gap between what Venmo has taught us to expect and the reality of what both the company and America’s underlying financial infrastructure are actually able to handle, and they’re blowing it wide open.
IOW, it still takes up to three business days for actual banks to actually update actual bank accounts, nevermind what the Venmo app is telling you.

So, go ahead and transfer the 6 bux to your jerky friend, then back out of it before the transaction has cleared.
posted by notyou at 9:01 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


My advice as an IT security professional: FOR THE LOVE OF DOG DO NOT USE VENMO

My advice as a person who values friendships: NO, SERIOUSLY, THEY ARE SHADY AS FUCK AND WILL ALSO MAKE YOU QUESTION THE NEED FOR SOCIAL INTERACTIONS
posted by zombieflanders at 9:05 AM on May 24, 2016 [34 favorites]


If your friend even thought about charging you for wine you drank at their house, Venmo is revealing them to be a petty jerk, not turning them into anything.

Yes and no. Having an app on my phone made it a lot easier to calorie count when I wanted to lose weight. Could I have done this with pen and paper? Sure. But the app made it much easier to track things much more precisely, and so long as I had the phone in my pocket it was easy, almost impulsive, to use it. I'm sure there's plenty of cheap and/or broke mofos who've bought something for a friend and had the thought, "that's $5 of my booze/food/etc. they've consumed." Now it's the instant, anonymous work of a moment to give into that thought and ask for a kickback. As opposed to having to write them an email or confront them face to face.

Tool shapes the hand. Make things easier for people they'll do it more. In this case, being petty is made easier.
posted by Diablevert at 9:05 AM on May 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


I already signed us all up
posted by beerperson at 9:07 AM on May 24, 2016 [21 favorites]


beerperson, finally, ffs. You owe me $7.30.
posted by bologna on wry at 9:08 AM on May 24, 2016 [24 favorites]


Now it's the instant, anonymous work

If Venmo were asking for anonymous payments, nobody would ever use it. It's the fact that there are names attached that people are revealing their true colors.

Either you go to the store together, or you have an "if you fly, I'll buy" conversation, or you just simply share what you have without asking anything in return. That's how friendships and hospitality work. Billing someone unexpectedly for freely-offered refreshment at your house is a total jerk move. Period. Whether there's an app involved or not.
posted by hippybear at 9:09 AM on May 24, 2016 [22 favorites]


Who are these people? I'm having a hard time believing the author was actually able to find enough shamelessly miserly fucks to hang an article on and this isn't actually a work of alarmist speculative fiction. It's just unthinkably boorish, and I can't imagine any result but instant pariahdom.
posted by rodlymight at 9:09 AM on May 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


YOUR WINE WAS BAD AND I WON'T PAY
posted by beerperson at 9:10 AM on May 24, 2016 [14 favorites]


(which is not Venom no matter how much Autocorrect insists)

Given the article, your autocorrect may be on to something.

And this is why I always give to friends, with no expectations of repayment. Life's too short for petty money mongering.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:10 AM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


If a friend charges me for a "service" then maybe I can write a Yelp review of that service. Two for one on assholes.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:12 AM on May 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


I had no idea this was a thing, and I am saddened that people would be that petty, sneaky, and computer-like with their friends. Life isn't a series of transactions.
posted by agregoli at 9:17 AM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yes, there have always been and will always be stingy people. And if they weren't using this app to nickle and dime their friends, they'd be doing it another way. But remember, we're dealing with a generation of young adults that may not have a full time job (or at least one that pays a decent living wage), but have been raised with their parents' etiquette rules about money. Split the dinner cheque equally. Buy your friends a round of beers. That doesn't always fly anymore. Going to a cool bar and buying everyone a round now costs $7 times however many people at the table. Before the tip. And splitting the bill evenly when out with friends and colleagues for dinner always ends up with someone who's trying to be frugal subsidizing somebody else's bottle of wine or multi-course meal. Granted, their friends might not even know that's a concern because mom and dad always said talking about how much money you make is a faux pas.
posted by thecjm at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


Who are these people? I'm having a hard time believing the author was actually able to find enough shamelessly miserly fucks to hang an article on and this isn't actually a work of alarmist speculative fiction.

That's what I thought too. I didn't know anything about Venmo but this doesn't sound at all like how I acted in my 20s with my friends. We had little extra money and $5 was a real swing one way or the other. But we were far more generous than these people. We also had discussions about it; it wasn't that hard. Then I texted a late-20s relative and asked if he uses Venmo and he said he does 1-5 transactions a day with his friends - "like everybody does."
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:22 AM on May 24, 2016 [17 favorites]


There's also this weird undertone of wanting to like divest of (?) your friends by making every interaction so directly transactional, down to the very cent. The sense that things will even out in the end has an implication that there will be time in the friendship for that to happen. That you bought me lunch today gives me an excuse to invite you out somewhere next week so that I can return the favor. Whereas if I compensate you directly and exactly for lunch, the end result is the same except minus the nice implicit trust that we'll still be getting lunch together next week and surely I'll get you back then.
posted by Gymnopedist at 9:33 AM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


Then I texted a late-20s relative and asked if he uses Venmo and he said he does 1-5 transactions a day with his friends - "like everybody does."

Wow. So this really IS a thing?

Everything is changing. Everyone is doing things differently. Not just differently. Incorrectly!

This is what getting old is, isn't it? Just a continuous onslaught of relatively small shifting norms until you don't even fucking recognize what anything is anymore so you just give up and wait for the cold hand of death to guide you on?

Great. Really.
posted by bologna on wry at 9:34 AM on May 24, 2016 [100 favorites]


I only use Venmo for splitting checks. Everyone sends one person their share and that person pays the full bill instead of making it complicated for the server. I am kind of surprised that people are asking their friends, unprompted, for money. But I really shouldn't be, because I remember college and the dudes that would drop by with a flimsy excuse whenever they saw we were cooking. I would have loved a non-confrontational, widely used way to charge them for it.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:37 AM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


This is what getting old is, isn't it? Just a continuous onslaught of relatively small shifting norms until you don't even fucking recognize what anything is anymore so you just give up and wait for the cold hand of death to guide you on?

Yes. Welcome to the club. Matlock reruns are on Channel 12 streamable on Netflix.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:38 AM on May 24, 2016 [17 favorites]


So what happens if you don't pay? Is there a Collectmo app?
posted by bologna on wry at 9:43 AM on May 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


I was going to suggest a generational gap. I am a young genX-er, and have a millennial friend I hang out with a lot. We do a lot more monetary splitting than I do with most of my peers. But he's also more likely to give me money for his half, unprompted. From what I've seen, this is pretty standard between his friends as well.

In fact, writing this out, I probably owe him more as I'm of the "I'll get it next time crowd." If he's paying me back more often... Oops. brb installing venmo.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:44 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is like the digital version of my high school friend who would call me up to see if I wanted to drive to the next town with him, and halfway there he'd ask me for gas money.
posted by goatdog at 9:48 AM on May 24, 2016 [13 favorites]


This has possibly cemented my decision not to have children in case they grow into the kind of fuckwits young people who invoice their friends for a glass of wine. It also made me imagine the opposite scenario when the older generation adopts it, and my Mum and her peers will forever be aggressively sending money to each other to pay for coffees and meals afterwards rather than arguing at the table for the other to put their money away.
posted by billiebee at 9:51 AM on May 24, 2016 [13 favorites]


This can certainly be a generational thing, as well as an ask/guess cultural thing. We all go through that period where we begin to make money/have money at different rates than our friends and peers, and we all have to figure out how to establish the paradigms in our relationships for splitting and repaying.
Venmo and other techie things are just new ways to make old problems problematic. My guess is that the person who was surprised to be asked to pay for wine, could perhaps look at their history with this person and see a pattern, by one or the other of them, that would have made this move seem obvious in hindsight.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:52 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


They're charging for this shit? I figured that the first market would be charging for emotional labor. After all, that's something that could easily be charged for with this. Going to lunch with an annoying coworker instead of having it to yourself? $10. Having to listen to your boss go on about his new car while you're worried about rent? $20. That one "friend" who is pestering you for attention when your cat just died? $Cost of a new cat plus a single therapy session.

That gives me an idea. Does anyone have a couple of billion in startup capital to throw at a "Uber meets Venmo for emotional labor"?
posted by Hactar at 9:54 AM on May 24, 2016 [13 favorites]


If you scroll down past the end of that piece, the next thing you see is someone asking, "I traveled all the way to my friend’s wedding–can that be my gift?" Thus suggesting that your mere presence at a particular event may have a value of its own.

Put the two together and you have perhaps the ultimate way to surrender every facet of your humanity to rampant capitalism, while making big money at the same time!*


* "making big money" may mean making a pittance while making some sociopathic tech bro rich
posted by Naberius at 9:56 AM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


So ... can anyone confirm that this is actually a widespread thing? This has all the hallmarks of a trend piece where the scope of the trend is roughly two dozen young people in NYC.
posted by tocts at 9:59 AM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


Not paying for that glass of wine I got at your place. Server was overly friendly, chatty, even sat down next to me and went on about their personal problems. Totally unacceptable and unprofessional behavior.
posted by mark k at 10:03 AM on May 24, 2016 [41 favorites]


Split the dinner cheque equally

no

no no no no no no no no no no no no

no

there is no fucking way i am going to force my barely employed/underpaid/just ate a fucking side salad friends to subsidize my meals, not now, not ever.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:25 AM on May 24, 2016 [39 favorites]


If a friend charges me for a "service" then maybe I can write a Yelp review of that service. Two for one on assholes.

Do you have friends who create Facebook pages for their house/cabin? "Jimmy's Fun Castle," or "The Sea Hag?" Half the work is already done.
posted by rhizome at 10:28 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


So what happens if you don't pay? Is there a Collectmo app?

Try my new app, Kneecappr.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:30 AM on May 24, 2016 [22 favorites]


Yeah, there are money issues going on here that I can't even comprehend.

I mean, I know what it means to be The Guy Who Is Organizing The Money For The Dinner who gets stuck having to toss in an extra $20 to make the tip equitable. Usually means I refuse to be TGWIOTMFTD at the next get-together.

But split the bill equally? I've literally NEVER been to a group dinner where that is A Thing. I'm nearly 50. Never once, ever.

Also, never been to a bar where the whole "buy a round of drinks for a group" is part of the deal. People get their own drinks, or if you're with one other person you buy a round, and they buy a round, and you are drinking basically the same thing.

Gas money: if I'm already going there, I'd never ask.

Is there a whole round of basic social interactions involving money that have entirely evolved in the past 20 years?
posted by hippybear at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


tocts: So ... can anyone confirm that this is actually a widespread thing? This has all the hallmarks of a trend piece where the scope of the trend is roughly two dozen young people in NYC.

Yeah, this isn't widespread at all. At least amongst my friends.

If we go out drinking any one of my friends is more than willing to pay for a round. In fact, just recently while watching the Eastern Conference Finals, and after playing basketball together for a few hours, we went to a bar and took turns buying pitchers of beer. This is a lot more common in the circles I run with, where my friends will straight up ask if I can buy them a beer and it's known that they'll get me next time.
posted by gucci mane at 10:31 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Likewise, I understand if someone can't afford to buy a round, and no one faults them if that's the case. I've been with friends who've said they have enough money for themselves only, and the rest of us didn't care and gave them more beer anyway. But this is my group of friends. Maybe I should write a trend piece about how gracious people are with their money.
posted by gucci mane at 10:34 AM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


But split the bill equally? I've literally NEVER been to a group dinner where that is A Thing.

I tend to agree with repeated AskMe advice on this: splitting equally is the adult thing to do when everybody has jobs and not enough time to sit around deciding whether tenths of pennies should be rounded up or down. This may be a kinda regional thing? Like maybe in parts of the country, people go their whole lives asking for separate checks?
posted by rhizome at 10:35 AM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


It's not even a separate checks issue. It's a "my meal plus drink plus tip comes to $15, your meal plus drink plus tip comes to $18, Sally had only a soda and an appetizer, that's $10", and rounding issues ALWAYS go up because the server gets the benefit of that.

*shrug*
posted by hippybear at 10:38 AM on May 24, 2016 [14 favorites]


If y'all can put your venmo usernames here or on the wiki, I have some favorites I gave out earlier that I need to bill you for...
posted by Mchelly at 10:40 AM on May 24, 2016 [19 favorites]


One of my coworkers had surgery with a 2-week recovery, so I ordered some flowers to be delivered 'from the team' and sent a note to the rest of the team, telling them of my action and offering to take any money they'd like to contribute. My office doesn't seem to have a tradition with such gestures, so I wasn't 100% sure what to expect. I ended up getting back about $20 of the $60 that I spent, but I was okay with that because 1.) I undertook the action on my own on behalf of the team before I notified the other team members, 2.) An extra $20-30 wasn't going to break me, thankfully, and 3.) sending a gift was the right thing to do regardless. I imagine if we'd had a common electronic way for my coworkers to give me some money, I'd have collected more.
posted by tippiedog at 10:40 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hell, I've billed all of you simply for reading your comments. Reading takes time, and time is money, right?
posted by hippybear at 10:41 AM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Being "petty" is actually a cost that differs from person-to-person, especially in NYC.

Among my friend group, there are people for whom a few hundred dollars is a petty charge, and people for whom every dollar is accounted for. I like that some social norms are being created around this, so that those two people can interact more easily.
posted by suedehead at 10:49 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I dunno, whenever I go out with my friends nowadays the servers always give us separate checks, we don't even have to ask. It isn't a big deal anymore with the cashier computer keeping track of things. They just print 'em out. No-one carries cash anymore anyways, so most people pay by debit or credit. I can't remember the last time I was handed one bill for a whole table of people without specifically asking for it. Probably was back in the '90s.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:51 AM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


Venmo sounds like little more than a chickenshit, passive-aggressive way to bully your friends into giving you money --- and probably more money than you spent on them, at that. I really, really doubt a couple of twenty-somethings are sitting around watching TV are drinking expensive wine. (Splitting the bill at a restaurant at least gives everyone a chance to see the actual total bill.)

'Course, it could be just me going through culture shock: just this week, a young relative and her husband declared that, due to their being deep in debt because they waste their money, they're opening a gofundme page...... wtf?!?
posted by easily confused at 10:56 AM on May 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


Regarding the "splitting the bill" thing, It's really easy for my GF and I to split bills equally when eating out because we each order the same exact thing off the menu, sit side by side and eat off each other's plates while staring lovingly into each other's eyes. It's a pretty cute TBH.

...I think we should venmo the other customers for putting on such a cute scene, now that I think about it...
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


really though if someone sent me a bill for a food or drink item that they offered me in their home i would charge them for the wear and tear to my sofa the next time they sat on it.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:59 AM on May 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


So ... can anyone confirm that this is actually a widespread thing? This has all the hallmarks of a trend piece where the scope of the trend is roughly two dozen young people in NYC.

I'm an old, so I mostly use Square, but I do notice the young using Venmo. Wasn't there a FPP a while ago about the default public nature of the transactions, with comments about how most people who use it write sarcastic/witty descriptions of the goods/services rendered? Again I am an old, but I have email trails full of receipts from my friends for 'sexual favors', etc.
posted by danny the boy at 11:00 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Running your life like Ryan Air seems like a pretty sad life.
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:01 AM on May 24, 2016 [22 favorites]


But split the bill equally? I've literally NEVER been to a group dinner where that is A Thing. I'm nearly 50. Never once, ever.

Also, never been to a bar where the whole "buy a round of drinks for a group" is part of the deal. People get their own drinks, or if you're with one other person you buy a round, and they buy a round.


So the opposite here. We split the bill equally in my crowd close to 100% of the time, and buy rounds often with smaller groups.

I do avoid buying rounds in gay bars, where inevitably some dink asks for a double shot of over priced vodka even though everyone else is having a beer, but works well enough with other groups. Aussies are the best, they have no compulsion about loudly calling out who's turn it is to buy the next rounds. I've never been bold enough to do that.
posted by kanewai at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Venmo exists because young people eschew cash. That's all there is to it. Social judgments and considerations are a secondary matter.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:06 AM on May 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


My (snake people) friend group uses the Square Cash app. It works the same, pretty much, but it doesn't publicize our transactions and we only ever use it for when we're hanging out and one person orders pizza or picks up a Fiesta Pack at Del Taco.
posted by sleeping bear at 11:08 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The interesting thing about this kind of commodification of social interaction is that in some ways it is psychologically liberating. If people do you a favor and you don't immediately reciprocate in kind then you are left with a psychic debt and because we have no real control over gift reception because of social norms we can incur debts we do not want.

It is probably also isolating insofar as society is a web of debt and obligations to others that you have escaped both giving into and receiving from. You'll never have to help anyone move but nobody is going to help you either.

So like everything involving people it is complicated and fraught.
posted by srboisvert at 11:10 AM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


But split the bill equally? I've literally NEVER been to a group dinner where that is A Thing. I'm nearly 50. Never once, ever.

Yeah, opposite here as well. One of the great pleasures of adulthood for me was not having to account to the last penny what everyone owed from a group dinner--and relatedly, limiting group meals to people who share that sentiment.

Maybe there really are two kinds of people and we self-sort by the time we hit 30?
posted by danny the boy at 11:18 AM on May 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


Add me to the "by the time I hit 30, my whole friend group had come to the conclusion that splitting the check equally was the adult thing to do" club. I mean, sure, if it's something extraordinary I can see separate checks, but I can't think of the last time that came up at a group gathering.

(I also haven't seen hosts collect cash for food at a party either in years -- it's just assumed you'll pay for similar sometime in the future at your place)
posted by tocts at 11:26 AM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


No-one carries cash anymore anyways, so most people pay by debit or credit.

I think this is the point. You decided to split a bottle of plonk with your bud and don't have a five in your pocket to chip in. But you can use Venmo to contribute. Same with the quote in the title of this post. When you have roommates, sometimes you're going to chip in to pay for a common item, and only one of you is going to get to keep it in the end.

The passive-aggressive, bill you later for something you never agreed to, hiding behind a digital facade even though you just met face to face person who sometimes uses this app. That's the problematic part. And I'm pretty sure I read a Faulkner short story about that very type of person, so I don't think it's a millennial thing beyond the fact it all happens on smartphones now.
posted by thecjm at 11:27 AM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yeah, opposite here as well. One of the great pleasures of adulthood for me was not having to account to the last penny what everyone owed from a group dinner--and relatedly, limiting group meals to people who share that sentiment.

Maybe there really are two kinds of people and we self-sort by the time we hit 30?


But we're talking about people who haven't crossed that threshold (and if you believe the doomspeakers, never will).
posted by thecjm at 11:33 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


This thread reminded me that I owed my coworker for a round the other night and I was going to send it electronically but forgot. We just talked about it and decided I'd get him the next time, because this article terrified both of us.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 11:36 AM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


In the beginning, there was PayPal, and it was good. We could send each other money. Brilliant. Then there was VenMo, and it's like, great, now another fucking app I gotta use. And this one wants to tell all of social media how I'm spending my money, because, you know, that's exactly the kind of information I like to share. And now there's Square Cash. This app is a real prize. First, I get a text from an app I don't even use demanding I give it money. Days later, it's still demanding I give it money, because even though I settled the debt, I did it in person instead of using Square Cash. Fuck this noise. I'm drawing a line in the sand. I'm not installing yet another payment app just because someone else wants me to.
posted by panama joe at 11:43 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I work at a fairly large financial institution, and just yesterday I was meeting with a group of about 15 college students participating in one of our summer intern programs. I asked how many of them used Venmo, and every single one raised their hand. Apparently Venmo use is almost universal on their campus.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:45 AM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also, isn't this already a solved problem in Europe? I remember hearing that it's super easy over there to send people money without having to use a third-party app. Apparently it's just a courtesy that banks offer? Either way, allegedly they think it's kind of ridiculous that we still use checks for things.
posted by panama joe at 11:46 AM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm (barely) a Millennial but I didn't start using Venmo until I got a 23-year-old roommate who wanted to pay his rent via it. At least by looking at my Venmo activity stream, people use it to split bills and fuck their mothers.
posted by Automocar at 11:48 AM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Also, never been to a bar where the whole 'buy a round of drinks for a group' is part of the deal.

That's a cultural thing. I don't think North Americans do it, not in my experience, but apparently it's like a socially compulsory thing in the UK -- it's a big faux pas to not participate. That's what I've heard. It sounds horrible.

"Yeah, opposite here as well. One of the great pleasures of adulthood for me was not having to account to the last penny what everyone owed from a group dinner--and relatedly, limiting group meals to people who share that sentiment."

Well, sure. My sensibility is that either extreme reveals an off-putting emphasis on monetary fairness. The idea that you have to exactly divide the bill equally or get everyone's exact proportional contribution rubs me the wrong way. I don't like the exact division because some people are poor and/or otherwise paying more than their share is a significant burden. But forcing everyone to exactly portion things up is onerous in a different way.

Basically, when I have any influence on the situation (especially when I'm the one actually paying), I choose to minimize first any one person's significant discomfort (because they are poor or whatever) and then minimize collective discomfort by making the process as easy and simple as possible. Often that will mean, if I'm physically paying, that I'll just contribute more than my share to ease things along.

This is a theme for me about money -- my dad was the kind of person that, after he died and we were going through his stuff, we found a ledger where he'd itemized anything and everything of any value he'd given to me and my sister. He'd give gifts and then later you'd have that "gift" held over your head. That sort of thing made me very, very touchy about generosity and not making a big deal about money. I absolutely refuse to loan anyone money -- in any situation where I would normally loan them money, I just give it to them. I refuse to keep track of what anyone owes me (like in a roommate rent+bills situation) or to bother them about it or to ever hold debts of any kind over their head, and what this has meant is that I'm extremely casual or careless about this stuff.

And what I've had to learn, with past roommates when I was the one paying the bills and in other situations, is that this can be a problem for other people. Everyone isn't like me and some people have an emotional need to have things set in stone and exact. I'm not doing those people any favors by the way I approach things. What I try to do now is to deal with people in their preferred mode, within the limits of my own tolerances (like, I'll work with someone being penny-pinching as much as I can stand it, but no more than I can stand it).

Anyway, my point here is that different people are different and it's probably best to accommodate this to some degree when negotiating this sort of thing. That it matters a lot to some people to just divide the check evenly, and it matters to some other people to exactly divide it according to what they ate, is something that we should try to accommodate within reason. No one is wrong except insofar as they insist that everyone else entirely conform to their preference. There's a middle ground in their somewhere even when preferences strongly differ.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:51 AM on May 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


This is it. This is the day when I've finally said "I'm old and out of touch." I've never heard anyone use "Venmo" as a verb.

Who gives out the lawnchairs?
posted by synthetik at 11:53 AM on May 24, 2016 [7 favorites]


“These are people who fit the profile of someone who would Venmo for a drink that they bought me,” she said. “This behavior existed before Venmo; now there is just an easy utility for it.”
Oh my yes. Decades ago a person in my social group was notorious for nickel & dime-ing everyone over the most trivial of interactions. The rest of the group operated causally ("Let me get this, you got it last time") so his anxiety over splitting every bill down to the last penny and demanding immediate repayment made everyone uncomfortable. Then there was the time his wife offered to give me a well-used comforter for my dog instead of donating it to Goodwill as she originally planned and he got in the middle of that and demanded I pay for it. After he pulled out a big battery operated calculator at the table to split the bill a few too many times, I gave him a green brimmed visor as a birthday gift. Alas, it turned out he also lacked a sense of humor so...we don't hang out any more.

Bet he loves Venmo.
posted by jamaro at 11:55 AM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I got Venmo when it was brand-new a couple years ago, so my username was initially just my first name. It's not super common like @Sarah or @Mike, so I figured I was safe because people would look at the user info to confirm before sending someone money.

Then the payments started. Bar splits. Used textbook sales. Craigslist transactions. I didn't notice for a while because I rarely used it, but then some college kid sent me several hundred dollars for rent and emailed me asking for it back. It became a whole issue with tech support because I was certain this was some kind of scam where they'd reverse the initial transaction and I'd be out the money. I insisted that support fix the issue and then changed my username.

What's that saw about fools and money?
posted by a halcyon day at 12:00 PM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


apparently it's like a socially compulsory thing in the UK -- it's a big faux pas to not participate

It's not compulsory to buy everyone a round. The faux pas is if you let other people include you in a round, or several rounds, but never buy one back aka "stand your round". Then people will resent you. It's totally fine to say you're skint and just buying your own drinks or that you're not drinking alcohol so everyone else to go ahead with their own rounds or whatever. /UK~US PSA
posted by billiebee at 12:04 PM on May 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


Among the people I socialize with there's a hybrid sort of approach. We eyeball the check and if it looks roughly equivalent we split it. When there's a sizable disparity - we got the kiddo a whole meal of his own, one of us had a few overpriced margaritas, whatever - we bother to do the add-up.
posted by phearlez at 12:04 PM on May 24, 2016 [18 favorites]


I used to work for a guy who was notorious for buying an expensive bottle of wine for the table "to share", drinking most of it himself, and then skipping on the remainder of the dinner check. I would Venmo the shit out of him now if I could.
posted by briank at 12:16 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Of course, maybe a reason we are always given separate bills now is that servers have caught on to the fact that separate bills means bigger tips.

I still figure it is because no-one uses cash in Canada anymore - as of 2014, less than 10% of consumer transactions were in cash.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:17 PM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


The two real biggest problems with venmo:

Paypal bought it, paypal is evil. PURE EVIL. SOOOOOOO EVIL. Like, would make most fantasy villains tremble in fear evil. Punch a baby in a stroller on a $5 bet just because "heh" evil.

IT DOESN'T WORK WORTH A SHIT. I've had an outstanding notification on my phone to pay my friend $13 for a goodwill score for WEEKS. No matter what cheat code of rebooting the app/reinstalling it/signing in and out/etc i try i keep getting notifications but i can never view it.

Everyone i know has stupid stories, and now that paypal is involved i'm just waiting for some well known blogger/IG famous artist/etc to post some huge ~viral~ rant about how venmo fucked them out of $500 or whatever.

That's coming, but the service also works like shit.

Of course, maybe a reason we are always given separate bills now is that servers have caught on to the fact that separate bills means bigger tips.

I wish i could beat every server who doesn't get this with a stale baguette. There's some places i really really like that HATE splitting checks. One even gives everyone a big irritating unclear worksheet so the server doesn't have to do any math/split the check on their own. Yes, i know not all POS systems handle this well. Tough shit, they all allow manual payment amounts(every system i know of at least, which is quite a few). Shut up, split it up how people ask, and collect your extra tip money.

While we're at it, abolish the mandatory gratuity for groups over a certain size. That only makes soulless assholes refuse to tip(and i know of, in person, a few people like this. ugh)
posted by emptythought at 12:27 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


So ... can anyone confirm that this is actually a widespread thing? This has all the hallmarks of a trend piece where the scope of the trend is roughly two dozen young people in NYC.

i'm in my mid 20s. everyone i know has it. everyone uses it about once a month or less. I've only ever used it to pay people back for things along the lines of "hey, i was at the store and saw that thing you mentioned wanting is here/back in stock should i grab it?". People have only paid me to... fix their broken phone screens, or for way out of my way rides, or portions of a bar tab.

I would say everyone i know has used it less than 10 times since we heard of it a couple years ago.
posted by emptythought at 12:34 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wow. And I'm 36 and this is the first time I'm even hearing of this app. Interesting.
posted by agregoli at 12:40 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Like maybe in parts of the country, people go their whole lives asking for separate checks?
From previous internet discussions, I've decided that restaurants willing to split checks absolutely is a regional (and socioeconomic) thing.

Let's be honest: bill-splitting and round-splitting is just a set of cultural norms that differs place to place/person to person/group to group and you just gotta read the room and adjust. My skint college friends split things very precisely, because they can't afford much but don't want to feel like they owe anyone anything (and paying for our own often means venmoing each other depending on who has cash). My boyfriend's more eclectic international crowd always buys rounds because that's how they show hospitality (and they drink the good stuff, no matter who is paying, so it stings when it's my turn, but I do it because I want to show them that same kindness). At work events, higher-ups pick it up or we get our own. It's Totally Fine that these things differ from group to group, jeez - just like any other expectations around hospitality and money, it's cultural and it's not constant.

Though the best way to split a check in a group is to add up tax and tip, evenly split that, and have everyone add that number to their entrees. Nobody has to cover the extra because the math tends to actually work but nobody is paying $30 for a side salad either

I use venmo for the following things, and consider myself "normal"
1. charging/paying roommates for utilities (imo this is one of the only times where the charge feature is not rude)
2. buying/selling in informal marketplaces (like facebook groups) where you aren't too worried about buyer protection
3. paying for your part of something when the other person/people is not a close enough friend that you'd want to say "I'll get you next time". Say, pizza with a coworker (where only one of you has cash) or a group cab with friends of friends
4. big group restaurant checks. SO much better than every single person saying "I have a $20, and I need to pay $17, does anyone have $3?". [also, in my community ]
5. generally any time where someone else has cash and I want to buy something for cash. Or vice versa.
posted by R a c h e l at 12:55 PM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I find counting dinner bills to the penny more infuriating than splitting evenly which I do really dislike. However, I don't drink and eat light so it's easy for the person next to me to owe $30 while I owe $15. I'm not counting pennies. I'm throwing $20 at it and calling it good. They can throw in whatever they want over $30. Continue around the table. Done. I'm happy to pay more if it's short or the tip is light, but automatic splitting would make me the loser nearly every time and I think most people are either going to be on the high or low end consistently.

Servers of MeFi - I don't usually carry much cash, so when I'm in a group and we get one check I'll often give my card and say "put $20 on this one." Does this make me a horrible person? Note I'm not saying "Put $21.57 on this one" If so I can see the reason for Venmo or carrying cash or something. I'm worried that it's one of the things I do that fills people with rage unintentionally.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 12:55 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Also, isn't this already a solved problem in Europe? I remember hearing that it's super easy over there to send people money without having to use a third-party app. Apparently it's just a courtesy that banks offer? Either way, allegedly they think it's kind of ridiculous that we still use checks for things.

I saw a local bank (US) advertising to be able to send money to your friends, digitally! And it only cost $2 per transaction!

Yeah, the banks are full of stupid. The sign led me to believe it's a multi-bank initiative that is supposed to compete with PayPal or Venmo. I couldn't figure out why on earth you'd use it with so many free services. Best my husband and I could figure out was its for people who don't know there are alternatives. But still....
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:04 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is the first I've heard of this too. Guessing its an age thing --- I mean, I work in the SV tech industry but never seen/heard of this.

As far as splitting, depends on the disparity. If its roughly even my friends will split evenly. If one person is a vegetarian and we went to a sushi restaurant, no one is going to make them pay evenly for their cucumber rolls. If I go out with a wildly lower-earning friend(s), I'll just pick up the tab myself.

Also we often still do the "one person uses card and the others give them cash". Most people I know still carry cash (and I still run into restaurants in LA that don't take credit).

(I have a bigger problem with this in Japan where the nuances of etiquette are still something I'm learning, so it ends up being a discussion where everyone is saying they want to pay for everyone else until some truce happens and one person pays the whole bill)
posted by thefoxgod at 1:05 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


41, have heard of Venmo, have never used Venmo. My friend group does they hybrid thing, split evenly if we're all roughly the same, or math it if we're not. Invariably some have cash and some have cards, I'll take all the cash and put it all on my card because I like credit card rewards. If we all have cards, hopefully the establishment will deal with it, or we'll just owe each other if they won't. We have definitely done the "put $35 on this card and $20 on that card" thing. I get that the snake people (heh, love that that's getting traction) don't use cash but they do still carry cards, right? Why don't they just use them?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 1:14 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The splitting the bill thing is so variable. Now that I'm older it works 95 percent of the time in my social group, but sometimes there's That One Person. In my case, there's one guy who will a) order something and pay the minimum for that dish, often shorting tax and tip unless reminded, and then b) proceed to demolish both his and everyone else's dishes. I.e., you had better get every bit of food that you desire on the first pass, because if you try getting some food and then waiting to see if you are still hungry, there will be nothing left. I could see the attraction of Venmo billing for that kind of thing.
posted by tavella at 1:18 PM on May 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Not Venmo in particular, but Square Cash has proven handy around the office.

At a place for lunch with coworkers where it doesn't look immediately easy to get separate checks? Put it all on someone's card (Usually someone volunteers because they like getting the points), break it out back at the office.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:26 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am forever grateful to the friend who one day looked pointedly at our chronic frugal-to-the-penny friend who'd been eating her fries and said, "just so you know, you owe me 53 cents in fries". Because we all knew that the frugal friend was just about as well off as the rest of us, who always at Least rounded up. To give frugal friend credit, she smiled and adjusted after that.

I guess I could see a venmo charge doing something similar, but making words come out of her face was pretty brilliant.
posted by ldthomps at 1:27 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also we often still do the "one person uses card and the others give them cash". Most people I know still carry cash (and I still run into restaurants in LA that don't take credit).

I would say this is a primary situation that these apps are mostly replacing. I'm 27, and my friend group (mostly young professionals in Chicago and other Midwestern cities, across a range of industries) use a combination of Venmo, Square Cash, and Chase QuickPay. I prefer Square Cash, because they put the money right into my bank account, rather than holding it like Venmo does. Some of the other appeals of these:
  • If you're the kind of person who needs to be squared up right away, you can be squared up right away. I have a buddy like that, who hates to feel like he owes people money, so when I cover the Uber or Lyft ride to get him home safe from the bar, he'll send me the money via Square the next morning.
  • Super easy rent and utility splitting among my roommates and I. The amount of money moving between us for that is high enough that I don't want to use cash, and these apps are faster than checks (although checks are pretty fast now, given that most bank apps can cash them).
  • People grabbing stuff for you. Kinda nebulous, but if someone's at Best Buy or Home Depot or the grocery store and I need something that either costs more than a dollar or two or requires them to go out of their way, I feel more comfortable asking them for it and sending them the money both to cover whatever it is and to cover their extra time.
Most of the time, people don't ask for stuff like the situation described in the article, we just offer to pay for it when we owe something. Almost nobody I know carries more than $20-$40 on them most of the time, pretty much regardless of their circumstances. (The one time I had $80 on me without a specific purpose in the last year, I lost my wallet; it was turned in by somebody in the restaurant, but the service charge was rather steep.) Essentially, these apps are replacing cash (which carries with it all kinds of troubling implications). I was about to add "except for illicit interactions", but then I remembered that I have seen at least two friends pay their dealers on Venmo and crack weed jokes in the payment reason, so...welcome to our dystopian future‽ It's super convenient here.
posted by protocoach at 1:41 PM on May 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


For those with experience: how does venmo compare with splittr? I love using splittr for traveling with groups, though it's better for major purchases (tickets, rooms, transport) rather than keeping track of bar tabs.
posted by kanewai at 2:01 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get that the snake people (heh, love that that's getting traction) don't use cash but they do still carry cards, right? Why don't they just use them?

I would imagine a lot of this has to do with the fact that these sorts of trendpieces are always written by people that live in either New York or New York, and a) cash is still pretty common in New York, lots of places still don't take cards for various reasons (don't want to pay merchant fees, they make money off renting floor space to an ATM, they're laundering money/not paying taxes) and places that do take cards can be real annoying about accepting more than 2. Plus, handing over 5 credit cards with a calculus equation scrawled on a bar napkin is a bit of a social faux pas when you're in an overcrowded restaurant with people spilling out onto the sidewalk waiting for a table and oh look a baby just got an entire plate of pasta dumped on it because someone going to the bathroom had to squeeze past 2 chairs with 2 inches of space between the backs
posted by Automocar at 2:01 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


That's a lot of unnecessary back and forth. Venmo takes a cut each time.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:07 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Venmo doesn't take a cut if you connect it to your checking account rather than a credit/debit card.

Many bank-based competitors charge a fee (what do they think they're competing with, western union?) so they haven't really caught on. Seriously I'll write a check before I'll pay popmoney $2 or whatever to pay my roommate for the electricity bill.
posted by R a c h e l at 2:17 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


so...welcome to our dystopian future‽ It's super convenient here.

Favorited for the interrobang.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:23 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


the fact that these sorts of trendpieces are always written by people that live in either New York or New York,

Hahaha, deelightful.

and a) cash is still pretty common in New York, lots of places still don't take cards for various reasons (don't want to pay merchant fees, they make money off renting floor space to an ATM, they're laundering money/not paying taxes)

Same in SF. Remarkable how we at the glans of Silicon Valley so often have to resort to old-fashioned money!

My friends (40-something, but that converts to about 30 in straight-people years) use Venmo a fair amount, but my take on it is that everyone I know has to have a different fucking favorite social network, so between Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and WhatsApp and Snapchat and Strava and Venmo, ad infinitum, it's nigh-impossible to contact everyone you want to talk to on one platform.
posted by psoas at 2:32 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've been giving this more thought, and I wonder if there's just a whole lot of insidious privilege caught up in the idea that writing off $1.50 or $3.25 or whatever - that it'll definitely come out in the wash. For budgets tight enough that one coffee/beer/appetizer makes a difference, branding someone who wants to square up each time as a cheap jerk or whatever is...callous.

Nobody's taking advantage of anything when they want to keep it square. And thing don't "come out in the wash" perfectly - one person comes out ahead, maybe because they can afford it and choose to offer more but maybe because the other person chooses to lean a little too hard on them.

That said - when the cost is okay with the payer, buying someone a coffee or a beer is a wonderful form of hospitality and generosity. But if it's just there to be reciprocated, why not just keep it even from square one?
posted by R a c h e l at 2:32 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I am 36 and use Venmo a lot with my 20-something coworkers. We tend to order Seamless pretty often and it is easiest to pay whoever orders that way (since no one EVER carries cash).

One time a 22-year-old coworker (who I managed at the time), told me my bill for lunch was $11.93. I sent her $12 and told her she was ok to round up to the nearest dollar with me in the future.

Life is too short to Venmo exact change.
posted by elvissa at 2:45 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've been giving this more thought, and I wonder if there's just a whole lot of insidious privilege caught up in the idea that writing off $1.50 or $3.25 or whatever - that it'll definitely come out in the wash. For budgets tight enough that one coffee/beer/appetizer makes a difference, branding someone who wants to square up each time as a cheap jerk or whatever is...callous.

My college experience was that it was those of us from working class backgrounds who just wanted to split the bill and get it over with, and those from more affluent backgrounds who had their pocket calculators* out and would compute the bill down to the penny, tax and tip included.


*pocket calculators were a form of primitive mini-computer popular during the 1980s and 1990s.
posted by kanewai at 2:45 PM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


All you need to know about how entrenched Venmo is in its predominant demographic is that it features a built-in emoji suggestion keyboard.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:47 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why would you sign up for such a thing?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:13 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why would you sign up for such a thing?

Because it's convenient and your friends use it?

Favorited for the interrobang.

I just got a text-expander Chrome extension and every communication today has featured either ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, ‽, or ಠ_ಠ. It is making me unreasonably happy.
posted by protocoach at 3:16 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


> Does anyone have a couple of billion in startup capital to throw at a "Uber meets Venmo for emotional labor"?

You kid, but online therapy; interacting with a professional licensed therapists via internet/smartphone is totally a thing. Talkspace has raised $13M so far, and they're not alone in that space. Maybe not quite what you're thinking, but "X plus Y but for Z" doesn't capture all the nuances.

On the subject of convenience and your friends using it. I'm definitely in "get off my lawn" territory here, but personally, my reasons for not jumping off a bridge (if all my friends were doing it) aren't related to the friction (SV-speak for inconvenience) of jumping off a bridge. (It's because I don't have any friends left after charging, err having them Venmo me gas and bridge toll money before I started driving. I mean, they weren't coming back, so they weren't gonna pay me back later, so why am I the asshole in this situation.)
posted by fragmede at 3:32 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


[insert clever name here]: Also, isn't this already a solved problem in Europe? I remember hearing that it's super easy over there to send people money without having to use a third-party app. Apparently it's just a courtesy that banks offer?

What.
Y'all don't have a free and easy way to send money from one bank account to another?

Mind. Blown.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:33 PM on May 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


Splitting checks. How is this a thing that is so hard people need to talk about it?

1. Order meal
2. Eat meal
3. Look at the check
4. Remember what you ordered
5. Round everything up to the nearest dollar and add it up in your head
6. Take the total, move the decimal one place to the left. Multiply that number by three. Add that to your total.
7. Congratulations, you've now accounted for sales tax and left a decent tip.

How is this so hard?
posted by panama joe at 4:33 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Here's where I get to be smug because I know about Venmo from the Reply All podcast, back in December 2014. The idea that the ledgers are public by default is batshit insane and also fascinating.

As for splitting checks, I have to be extra-careful because I am better off than some of my friends. I really don't care about the differeince between a $6 premium vodka shot and the $4 well vodka, but that $2 matters to people I know and love. I try to be generous but offering to buy drinks too often can be seen as a different kind of insult.
posted by Nelson at 4:37 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


but sometimes there's That One Person.

When we were young and not very affluent, drunken quibbling over the bar tab at the end of the nite was a hilarious regular consensual performance-art psychodrama. The mathematically inclined might calculate and re-calculate percentages with factors based on need and personability. The guy who tried to be That One Person who skinted out would be relentlessly teased. If one of us had made a decent score that week, they would have to impersonate Mickey Rourke in 'Barfly' crying out: "To All My Friennnds!" If you really were skint that week, there would be grovelling and cadging, with detailed descriptions of your benefactor's generosity, intelligence, and good looks, as well as promises to make it up in the future, which were specifically noted when reciprocated. There was also bumming cigarettes, which was more subtle and complicated.

Now that we're older, everyone flashes their cards, and the most persuasive gets to treat this time around. And we're usually not as drunk.
posted by ovvl at 4:38 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'll add this to the list of things I'm glad didn't exist when I had housemates, one of whom was so cheap that he would have been on this app all day every day Venmo-ing people for the cost of three shakes of salt.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:40 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


All of the people who are wringing their hands about "but what about That One Person" are the dining out equivalent of askme askers who want to know how they can "stop feeling so bad" about their abusive partners. The answer isn't a complicated routine or app to accommodate such people, the answer is to get rid of them.

I'm an anxious middle aged hermit now, but when I was a blithe young person, who ate and drank out a lot, no group I was with ever did this stuff to each other, because we were actual friends. That running I got you/you get me is the very lifeblood of friendships - is there an app so you can calculate if my listening to you talking about your job for twenty minutes is worth more or less than your commiserating about my sick cat? If anyone at the table is doing it hard and the cost of a coffee is making them feel a but uneasy, their friends will help them out. Because friendship isn't a stupid transaction.
posted by glitter at 4:50 PM on May 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


"Y'all don't have a free and easy way to send money from one bank account to another?"

No, and it's ... well, I don't know what word to use. Travesty? That seems excessive. But it's not just dumb, there's real injustice involved. Interbank transfers usually involve a fee (several dollars) and, amazingly, a several day delay. It's like it's still 1962. Seriously, my mother was a banker for the first half of my life and I'd ask her to transfer money for me in the 80s and it's basically exactly the same now -- the same fee, the same delay, everything. The only thing different is that I can initiate the transaction online.

There's been tremendous resistance to any sort of free and easy electronic funds transfer in the US. The banks and the credit card companies have had a vested interest against this, but also the government because of money laundering and such. This is why the US has lagged behind on all these kinds of technologies.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:55 PM on May 24, 2016 [8 favorites]


Also, at the risk of sounding snotty (and I realize this might sound a bit snotty), if you can't afford a 20% tip, perhaps you should be a bit more judicious about where and when you go out. I've had a few friends who were shitty tippers. One who would "double the tax" (in a city where sales tax was less than 9%), one who would only ever tip 15%, and another who had a fucking card in his wallet that he would whip out to aid his calculations and ensure that he never tipped more than 15%. Any time I'd go out with them, I'd always make up the difference in tip because (A) people in the service industry depend on tips for their livelihood and (B) if it's a restaurant I care about enough to go to, it's usually one I care enough to go back to, and I don't want them remembering me as a shitty tipper.

Things I would have preferred to making up the difference when dining with shitty tippers :

1) Going to a less-expensive and have them tip 20%. (they always tipped shittily regardless of where we went)
2) Not going out at all, maybe just chilling with them at my place and watching a movie
3) Attending one of the copious free events or museums our city offers
3) Them just asking me to spot them a drink or an appetizer or whatever.

Instead, I was forced into a somewhat awkward situation and made to feel like I was the weird one for wanting to leave a decent tip. Not okay.
posted by panama joe at 5:06 PM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


OK, I went ahead and favorited y'alls comments. That'll be 105 favorites please.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:12 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Can't I just Venmo you some favorites?
posted by panama joe at 5:13 PM on May 24, 2016


I'm not sure that convincing someone to not go out because they will leave 15% instead of 20% is helping anyone, considering whatever server they would've had now gets 0% instead of 15%. Unless you're talking about a place so packed so frequently it's guaranteed they'd get the 20% instead of the 15%.
posted by griphus at 5:17 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Because it's convenient and your friends use it?

Fuck 'em. Real friends loan you fifty bucks and when they ask for it back you buy 'em twenty bucks worth of beer and drink half of it and that's that.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:35 PM on May 24, 2016 [19 favorites]


I feel responsible for this sorry state of affairs.

I was an early adopter of Venmo, because a roommate in grad school had a brother who worked for it back in 2010 or so. Because they had so few users at that point, I ended up meeting with one of their engineers, who wanted to hear what real people thought of the app. He asked me if I had complaints.

"Well, it's unfortunate that we can't pay merchants with it. But it's really handy for the rent and splitting checks at restaurants."

"Yeah, we're working on the merchant thing. Anything else?"

"Well...well...I sort of think it might destroy the fabric of society."

I get a blank stare.

"Okay, I know this is going to sound weird, but I'm an anthropologist and various famous classical social theorists and anthropologists have argued that relations of reciprocity--the extension of relations of exchange beyond specific, individual transactions [and I was really thinking here about Marshall Sahlins's "generalized reciprocity"]--is central to the creation of lasting social ties. So I worry that enabling specific reciprocity--the instant charging and payment of debts, even between friends and family--with Venmo will ultimately cause the breakdown of society as we know it. You know, maybe."

Still a blank stare.

And guys, I don't think he even bothered to include that in whatever user experience report he took back to HQ. Now look where we are! Venmo creating petty jerks and assholes. Dogs and cats living together. I really should have made my case more forcefully.
posted by col_pogo at 5:36 PM on May 24, 2016 [40 favorites]


Bad, col_pogo! Download my new app called Blamemo. Let me know what you think...
I kid of course. You were seeing the future and the were seeing $profit!

I'm glad I heard about this app now. I have a 15 year-old daughter who is pretty tech savvy and she knows about it. I will preach it's evils to her.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 5:55 PM on May 24, 2016


"Venmo" is an anagram for "venom". The poisonous venom of your "friend" asking you for six bucks for pouring you a glass of wine. Everything about this is terrible. The future sucks. If you can't figure out how to split a bill at a restaurant without using an app then you don't deserve to eat or have friends.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:04 PM on May 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I wonder if there's just a whole lot of insidious privilege caught up in the idea that writing off $1.50 or $3.25 or whatever - that it'll definitely come out in the wash. For budgets tight enough that one coffee/beer/appetizer makes a difference, branding someone who wants to square up each time as a cheap jerk or whatever is...callous.

Yeah or maybe you could just assume that we know our friends and colleagues.
posted by phearlez at 6:22 PM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I mean, just look at this thread. People on either side who are convinced their behavior is correct and everyone else is a barbarian. It's just easier to dine with people you already know to be on the same page as you. I mean honestly, isn't that the basis of friendship as you get older? Friends are the people left in your life that you're not exhausted just thinking about.
posted by danny the boy at 6:37 PM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure that convincing someone to not go out because they will leave 15% instead of 20% is helping anyone, considering whatever server they would've had now gets 0% instead of 15%. Unless you're talking about a place so packed so frequently it's guaranteed they'd get the 20% instead of the 15%.

Well, I've spent the last 13 years of my life in NYC and SF, so...
posted by panama joe at 6:47 PM on May 24, 2016


Venmo doesn't make people into assholes,

but for the ones who already are . . . it's a laxative.
posted by jamjam at 6:54 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


What does Venmo offer above and beyond regular PayPal? I had been using PayPal to split a cell phone family plan and didn't see any need to change the routine.
posted by Monochrome at 7:39 PM on May 24, 2016


I never even heard of venmo before this thread but I suddenly now remember the roommate I had in the 80s who borrowed my car once. Being firmly in the what goes around comes around camp, I hadn't asked her for anything in return or even thought about it. She came home and said, "I figured it out and I owe you $3.57 for gas" and gave me, no lie, $3.57 in cash. Pennies. And I'm standing there going, um, this is awkward, really? Everything was like this with her. Splitting the electric bill was a nightmare.

She was ahead of her time. She's also not somebody I ever felt the slightest urge to keep up with. I bet she is loving her some venmo now.

Back then, I was a broke college student and so was she. In the years since, I've found that most people's financial lives - definitely mine - are just, oh, unpredictable wave phenomena. I've been horrifically broke and relatively flush; when I am broke I conserve and my friends get me, when I am flush I buy. We round up or down and it works out ok in the long run. I am not gonna install this app.

PSA millennials are not the only people who are just hanging on in the new, improved, "post" Great Recession economy and Gen Xers are, as a rule, not unfamiliar with the term underemployed.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:01 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Now I feel mean for saying that. Bear with me a minute, Youngs, while I try to explain. I am at the moment very tired and a little tipsy so it may be not as coherent as one would wish, but well. The thing is, when threads like this get framed as "you could not possibly understand, Olds, that we are young and broke yet some of our friends are not so broke" it makes us cranky because we can understand. We are, many of us, old or at least middle aged, and still broke and even if some (and not, actually, as many as one would hope or think if one was raised in the world where things were just going to keep on getting better until they didn't, quite) have reached that halcyon state of not so broke as we used to be, we know now just how fleeting that state can be. And we remember being young, and broke, and it not being, somehow, fair. It isn't fair. It never is. But stuff like bar tabs and restaurant meals, and borrowing cars and a glass of wine offered to a friend and wear and tear on the sofa does, eventually and somehow, work out. The pennies, in the long run, are not very important. The friendships are.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:35 PM on May 24, 2016 [10 favorites]


So I worry that enabling specific reciprocity--the instant charging and payment of debts, even between friends and family--with Venmo will ultimately cause the breakdown of society as we know it. You know, maybe."

Still a blank stare.


What you should have said was, "I tried this app but me and my friends started resenting each other and having little fights about petty stuff and we realized it was the stupid app and we told all our Facebook friends it sucks."
posted by straight at 9:18 PM on May 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


"I traveled all the way to my friend’s wedding–can that be my gift?" Thus suggesting that your mere presence at a particular event may have a value of its own.

Really? I absolutely think the presence of a guest at a wedding, destination or not, is the real value of their attendance. If I didn't think that, I guess I wouldn't invite them? But certainly I would have said no gift at a destination wedding where you pay to fly somewhere is ok. It's a huge expense, plus you might have just assigned you holiday for the year to travel to the event!

In any case, I can see a use for this app, but rarely get a single bill for food unless it's delivery or specifically requested in a restaurant.

I'm not sure if adds more than emailing money through e-transfer, which I love!
posted by chapps at 10:22 PM on May 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


But split the bill equally? I've literally NEVER been to a group dinner where that is A Thing. I'm nearly 50. Never once, ever.

I'm also nearly 50 and at every group dinner we ALWAYS split the bill equally. A few bucks this way, the next time the other way - it all eventually evens out. Has been this way with my friend group for years.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:59 PM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I use EMTs from my bank all the time (maybe 8 or 9 times a week), pay my rent with it, don't carry cash (except for chinese or ice cream), only use pay pal when i am crossing borders (sendinh money to yanks), how does this differ from venmo
posted by PinkMoose at 11:18 PM on May 24, 2016


I'm in my mid-20s and have been using Venmo since around 2013 or 2014. I would say I use it a few times a month and it's definitely a verb, just as much as Uber is at this point. I've never really used it for check-splitting. It's more for informal situations where someone's paid extra for something and you don't have cash to give them. I think it has definitely had an impact on relationships, at least in my experience--all those little debts that used to exist between people that were really just the price of friendship are gone, when you can request money for someone for the drink you bought them two weekends ago or their half of a bottle of wine or a cab ride or whatever. Paying someone back isn't something nice you're doing--everything becomes both more fair and more cold.

It is so incredibly convenient though. The one person I know who doesn't use it doesn't have a smartphone.
posted by armadillo1224 at 12:25 AM on May 25, 2016


I secretly (well not so secretly anymore, obvs) suspect that the people who are the most astonished that not everyone just splits the cheque magnanimously are the same people who order food and drink with abandon and never notice the bitter shock of the tablemates who end up subsidizing it.

A more generous theory is that they're used to dining in a relatively homogenous group, wrt what they order and how much they spend. I usually eat out with a random mix of people with or without kids of various ages and eating habits in tow, with vegetarians and steak eaters, foodies with raging appetites and people on chemo who only manage a soup, teetotallers, whisky-drinkers, people eating halal or kosher or dieting, people who really need to live frugally, and those with bottomless pockets. There's always someone who'd end up significantly overcharged if everyone paid the same.
posted by sively at 2:58 AM on May 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


Places I've used venmo lately: paying back for our tickets that a friend bought online to get seats together. Paying back for bowing where the first person there got the lane. Getting paid for the campsite we are splitting this weekend. Splitting the grocery bill for the nachos we made as a group te other week. All very painless.
posted by smackfu at 4:23 AM on May 25, 2016


One way of getting credit card credit to turn into cash without the fee is to pay for a group meal (or any other group activity) on a card where people put cash in. I suppose direct bank transfers are equivalent as there are no fees for cash withdrawal.

If you get cash then you can spend it happily knowing that you are not revealing your spending habits to Babylon/big data. If you get direct transfers then you can pop them into your high interest account, offset mortgage or other cunning scheme for the two year+ interest free stoozing period.

All this applies in the UK, I have no idea if this works elsewhere.

Here is a story about students buying drugs via Venmo, which may be the one alluded to above.
posted by asok at 4:33 AM on May 25, 2016


So George Costanza is developing apps now? Besides iToilet?
posted by valkane at 5:14 AM on May 25, 2016


Then I texted a late-20s relative and asked if he uses Venmo and he said he does 1-5 transactions a day with his friends - "like everybody does."

Snake person here. I don't do this. I also refuse to sign up for Venmo. Many of my friends are the same.

My friend circle largely uses Square Cash and "Actual Money," but definitely don't exchange money with friends anywhere near 1-5 times a day. It's more like 1-2 times a week. At most.

A lot of my friends in New York seem to be firmly entrenched in the Venmo ecosystem. Perhaps this is a case of NYC (once again) assuming that the world revolves around it?

Depending on the group of friends I'm dining with, I sometimes split evenly, and sometimes request separate checks. If it's a mixed group of drinkers and non-drinkers, we almost always request separate checks. [Being able to evenly split without worrying about it is indeed a luxury - I'm pretty happy knowing that I don't need to worry that I might have accidentally bought a portion of a friend's dinner]
posted by schmod at 6:48 AM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm in the USA and my bank has a service where you can send money to someone with an account in the same bank or a list of participating banks. They get a text or email saying they have a payment, log into their bank, and accept it. I see it called SurePay, QuickPay, clearXchange and maybe one or two other things. I have no idea if they're the same service or competing ones, but it has made paying my rent easier. One of my housemates does the same, and none of the three of us have the same bank.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:28 AM on May 25, 2016


Then I texted a late-20s relative and asked if he uses Venmo and he said he does 1-5 transactions a day with his friends - "like everybody does."

I got some more info on this case. A typical day for this group might be go out to lunch, go out to dinner, play a round of golf, get some drinks. Any or all of these might involve sending money. They are also roommates so they use Venmo to pay for rent, utilities, shared Netflix, groceries, etc. It sounds like these are done on a per bill basis rather than totalling up and sending one chunk of money. That doesn't sound easier to me, but maybe it is for them.

There is a big difference between them and the article though. They are sending money, not requesting it. And for things like going out they're rounding up, not counting pennies. I know these guys and they're generous toward others so I think that they're using it to make sure they're paying at least their share rather than keeping track of who owes what at any point. It almost sounds the opposite of "get you next time" where they more than pay their share and the one who put the thing on their card or paid cash has a surplus of money at the end that they now have to 'get next time' in the other direction. This is not in NYC or SF, but suburban Twin Cities.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:44 AM on May 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Although my brother falls firmly into the "snake people" demographic, he eschews most of their markers. Not venmo, though. He's been harassing our family to get on venmo for months, and to that I say BALLS. I mean yes, we do on occasion owe one another small sums of money -- for a plane ticket booked with someone else's points, or a group birthday gift. But some of us (ahem) are technically owed thousands and even tens of thousands of dollars by others in the family. I say technically, because everyone knows when you lend money to family, you are actually giving money to family.

If we change the game to introduce concrete debt into the equation we're all gonna hate each other in about 10 minutes.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:28 AM on May 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


She came home and said, "I figured it out and I owe you $3.57 for gas" and gave me, no lie, $3.57 in cash.

That's so much better than the person who borrowed my car and said when she returned it, "I'm pretty sure there's enough gas left in the tank to get you to the gas station at the bottom of the hill."
posted by bq at 9:58 AM on May 25, 2016


So, this weekend Mrs. Bastard and I had a couple of friends over, so we bought extra wine to prepare. One of these friends works as beverage manager at a local fancy restaurant, so he brought over a bunch of fancy wines. We had, probably on the average, over a bottle and a half or so each of various types of red and white wines. We all got pretty hammered, and it was a lot of fun.

Still not sure what this "venmo" thing is (like, a cell-phone app I guess?) I'm just bragging.
posted by Cookiebastard at 12:46 PM on May 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I do "get you back later" with 80% of my friends. But the other 20%... you notice after a while that they never do get around to getting you back, even if they're making a lot more money than you. A running tab on a shared whiteboard may then appear.

But about the intersection between friendship and transactions: You can weird people out just as much by offering to pay for food you ate and wine you drank at their house. (At least if it's an "enjoy our hospitality" situation; saying "let's make a meal together, everybody pitch in, how about at my place?" is a different thing.)

And to go way off the rails: I have a half-baked theory that people like to test new members of a group a little bit, to see if they're willing to put up with a bit of pain for the sake of the group. Are you someone we can depend on to pitch in extra if times get tough? How much do you value the group? Sometimes this takes the form of actual pain - military or sports hazing - and sometimes it takes the form of wallet pain, of getting the new guy to buy rounds for everybody. I'm not sure what to think of it, but I've noticed that it happens.
posted by clawsoon at 8:07 AM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


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