Okay, picture this:
You are going out for a meal with a group of friends (say around 10 of you), you have a great time, laughing and joking people are eating and drinking and being merry.
Now comes to the end of the evening and it is time to pay. What do you do? Depending on the complexity (and for most the alcohol consumption) you either:
a) Agree to split the bill equally
b) Appoint someone to workout who should pay what
or c) Work out exactly what you had and pay for it.
Now, most of the time I wouldn't give a second thought to being up or down - does it really matter? Well I'm always concious because I normally have something reasonably expensive on a menu (it is usually something like a decent steak etc. and to be honest, Coke pretty much costs the same as beer so drinks are not far apart either) So I always make the effort to ensure that I have paid my fairshare - so why is it I so often find that my meal and drinks come to £20, and I have put in £25, we are still £10 short on the bill? (the amount of times I put in 2 or 3 quid extra on top of an already generous tip because the bill has come up short is not worth counting).
Enter the Germans:
For a meal (or even just for bar drinks) the waiter/waitress will actually come to your table and ask if you want to split the bill. They will go to each person and work out exactly what they have purchased, the person, at this stage also gets to tip directly (and takes the credit for their generousity :0)
Now naturally I was a little confused the first time, but it really doesn't take more than a minute or two (it actually is faster than letting a bunch of drunk idiots try to work it out for themselves - Indian restaurants in the UK please take note).
A Tip about Tipping: A tip for those visiting Germany, the whole payment experience is done in one go - so if you are going to tip, tip while the person is counting up your bill i.e. they won't leave the receipt on the table so you have a convienient tip pot.