Brits are spending a penny to dodge paying the pounds

14 November 2018

Top excuses for bill-shy ‘shirkers’ revealed for the party season

  • Four in ten (40 per cent) Brits say they have a bill ‘shirker’ in their friendship group, with their penny-pinching friends owing an average of £74 in the last 12 months
  • One in ten (11 per cent) pretend to be too merry to split the bill, and shirking is considered more annoying than spending the night taking selfies, the research by Pingit reveals
  • Friends get moody when IOUs reach £27, although one in five (18 per cent) start getting twitchy at £5
  • One in three (33 per cent) have fallen out with friends because they haven’t paid their share, even though 50 per cent have been called out for ‘shirking’ themselves

Four in ten (40 per cent) Brits know a ‘shirker’ – the friend who has to take the ‘very important phone call’ when the bill arrives. And a third (33 per cent) have fallen out with a pal because of their stingy ways, with one in eight (14 per cent) holding a grudge for a year or more.

 51 per cent think ‘shirking’ is one of the most unappealing traits a friend can have, and mates who are tardy with paying back money are considered more annoying (33 per cent) than those who are always on their mobile on nights out (27 per cent) or constantly taking selfies (8 per cent).

The research from Pingit – the app that allows for fast, easy payments and bill-splitting with just a mobile number – comes just in time for the party season. The findings reveal that so-called shirking, or the avoidance of paying your fair share of the bill, is taking a toll on our wallets, too: Over half (54 per cent) of Brits claim they have lent money to pals, never to see it again, and on average, they’re down £74 over the past 12 months due to their frugal friends.

Whilst Brits are happy to let go an average debt of £24, it only takes an extra £3 for friendships to sour – friends get moody when ‘forgotten’ funds hit £27. As a consequence, nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) have avoided nights out with friends who never pay their share, whilst 13 per cent have ended a friendship altogether – all of this despite 50 per cent having been called out for shirking themselves.

The research has revealed the most-used bill-dodging tactics and our most common tactics to fight back. When it comes to avoiding the bill, Brits are most likely to:

  • Turn into the ‘mañana’ mate who promises to pay it back tomorrow, but never does (33 per cent)
  • Claim to be low on funds (23 per cent)
  • Sip slowly so that someone else gets in the next round (23 per cent)
  • Spend a penny when it’s time to pay (17 per cent)
  • Pretend to have had one too many to split the bill (11 per cent)

But Brits aren’t a ‘grin and bear it’ lot. When asked the best way to sidestep a shirker, responses included:

  • Leaving them out of future drinks rounds (22 per cent)
  • Not inviting them out again (20 per cent)
  • Putting them on the spot in front of friends (18 per cent)

Pingit released the findings to highlight the ways the app, with bill-splitting capabilities for up to 20 people and the ability to request and track payments, can help nudge shirkers into contributing to the bill this festive season.

Darren Foulds, Managing Director of Pingit, said: “As we head towards the party season, it’s inevitable that we’ll end up sharing rounds, meals and taxis with our loved ones – and sometimes settling up is not as easy as we’d hope. The research shows that we have a variety of ways to get mates to pay their share, but the last thing we want is to spoil the festive cheer. Apps like Pingit offer a simple and easy way to split the bill, which means you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the night.”

For further information please contact:

Linda Yang, Barclays


0203 555 5586

Research polling 2,000 people in the UK, conducted by 72Point during October – November 2018

About Pingit

Pingit is a mobile payment service that lets you send and receive money using just your mobile phone number. If you are aged 16 or over all you need is the Pingit app, a UK bank account and a UK registered mobile phone number. It's powered by Barclays, but you don't need to be a Barclays account holder to use Pingit. It's quick, free and totally secure.