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This week a client from another region is visiting my team. We will have a whole-day meeting.

In our last conversation he told me that he would like to take our team to lunch. It's 6-7 persons on the lunch meaning the cost is not insignificant.

However, since he is our client and he is a visitor in our town, is it OK that he takes us for lunch and pays for it?

Should I offer to pay the lunch instead?

I have never been in situations like this and I am not sure what to do. I would not like to offend him by not paying the lunch (if it's expected), but neither to offend him by saying that we will pay the lunch what he had offered first.

  • What country / cultural background are we talking about? – Daniel Jan 23 at 11:20
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There's no hard and fast rule about any of this and I suspect customs vary based upon location.

For me.... if the client visits me.... I pay. If I visit the client, often the client pays. Essentially it comes down to who is the guest. Since the client isn't part of your team, he's the guest.. so you should pay. However, in some cases the client may want to say "thank you" for work well done and they insist on paying... so let them.

In your situation I'd offer to pay, but if he resisted I wouldn't put up too much of a fight.

Ultimately, it's all up to you. If he's adamant about paying, thank him and let him.

2

In my experience if I go to work at the client's place sometimes some clients offers the lunch, other times not. When the clients comes to me sometimes me too I offer the lunch, or we go to a cafeteria or something like that.

If I were you in this case I would accept the client's offer because maybe it's something that he would like to do for your team, but I would also thank him with a gift offered by me or by the whole team. For example each member of the team can put X amount of money to reach a certain amount needed to buy some nice gift for you client: a nice case of wines; something tipical of your region; some nice technological accessory; etc, and I would give it to the client in the name of the whole team to thank for his visit and in the name of our good work relationship.

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I think the previous answers give a lot of good answers. Personally, I would have lunch, and then pay. If the customer says "this is on me" or something similar, I would argue "No, you are our guest, let me get this", but if he argued that even once, I would give in. After all, the customer is always right (theoretically).

However, I would finish with the usual "ok, this time, but next time it is definitely on me".

Should I offer to pay the lunch instead?

Yes, in fact you should assume you are going to pay, and act like you expect to pay.

I have never been in situations like this and I am not sure what to do. I would not like to offend him by not paying the lunch (if it's expected), but neither to offend him by saying that we will pay the lunch what he had offered first.

Some people would be offended if you did not let them. It is like a mark of authority, and I assume your customer has a bigger company than yours. So expect to pay, attempt to pay, but do not labour the point nor argue it.

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I would think of a few things in regards to the issue: - Am I the only one he's paying for or not? If he's doing it for others then it's less significant - How often does he do it? Did he invite me(us) once? Does he do it every week? If it's often enough there may be something to offering to pay - Think of it from his point of view. What does he want? Maybe he's hoping for something he can only achieve by giving you lunch. If that's the case fish for the reason. Perhaps it's something you'd want to do anyway.

It sounds from your question that he comes around only once in a while so it might not be an issue.

The bottom line is the fact that you feel uncomfortable. I would do what is expected to not feel uncomfortable because your discomfort will show in your work and that will hurt both of you.

  • 1
    This is the first time. I have no knowledge of his conduct with others. – Peter MV Oct 23 '16 at 13:15
  • You thought about it and it's obviously bothering you. Invite him for dinner. – user6035379 Oct 23 '16 at 14:13

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