Splitting the bill after a slap-up dinner is sometimes a nails-down-the-blackboard moment of pure social awkwardness.
What if they had a whole bottle of vino while you had a single glass? You could be paying more than your fair share!
And what if they picked the restaurant and it’s eye-wateringly pricey to start with? Oh, the internal agony.
This wrangling over the bill is threatening to break out in full force between energy brokers and suppliers.
The question at steak – ahem, stake – is, who pays for regulating the energy middlemen, the brokers and third party intermediaries who work between customers and energy companies?
At a recent meeting between the tasty trio of suppliers, brokers and Ofgem, where a set of rules for dinner table etiquette was the main course, cost was the seasoning.
And it seems brokers and suppliers alike are anxious they aren’t lumbered with the whole bill.
Cue a game of hot potato
Whisked into separate rooms and asked separately who they thought should pay for policing, suppliers thought brokers should pay 100% of the bill.
Vice versa, TPIs thought suppliers should pay for the set up. After that, they seemed willing to pick up the rest of the bill.
Of the independent voices present at the meeting, 51% voted for TPIs to shoulder the costs, while 49% said suppliers. They were clearly given two options to tick.
So what is the price of proper regulation? Who knows. One member at the meeting estimated setting up the code could range from £250,000 to £500,000 and then a similar amount each year.
Other questions abound: is there a flat fee, how often should it be paid, do you vary it depending on the size of the broker? What happens if TPIs don’t pay up, would that be a breach of the as-yet-unfinished code?
Another question I’d like to throw into the cooking pot: shouldn’t Ofgem reach into its pocket too?
I fear there’s a lot more arguing to be done at this particular restaurant – time for a runner?