03/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Business Lunches Hit Snag: No One Wants To Pick Up Tab

It used to be a common sight from Sparks to Spago -- the boisterous scrum as diners wielding corporate cards dove for the lunch bill, crying "I'll get it!" But since the economic downturn, the delicate social rituals of the bull market era, when executives tried to outdo one another in expense-account one-upmanship, have been upended.

Instead of dessert, many meals are ending with a cold, hard calculation of who is worth paying for and who isn't. Often, the answers cause discomfort on both sides of the table.

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