A friend writes:

I'm a server at a restaurant.
Why do people think it's okay to leave tips under 15%?
And most of the people who do this like to say how great the food and service was.
I can't pay my bills with nice words.

See, that whole system is broken.

Obviously it would be better if waitstaff were better paid, and tips were unnecessary, as in New Zealand.

But without such a huge social and economic change, there is still something American restaurant diners can do.

Screw all the hesitation and complex calculation. Forget about percentages. Go with the Eight Dollar Tip for all restaurant meals with table service.

Here's how it works:

No time or brainpower wasted on whether to leave $2.11 or 2.55. Just write "8" on the tip line of the credit card bill without stopping to think about it. —< 8 >— See how easy that is? No anguish, no guilt. —< 8 >— The Eight Dollar Tip reduces stress, saves time, and makes your life easier.
If there are three or more people, the Eight Dollar Tip becomes $4 per head. $12 for a party of three. $16 for a party of four. And so on. —< 8 >— But restaurant guests usually eat in parties of one or two.
If you're going to tip, then why not tip like you MEAN it? That $2.11 or whatever will barely be noticed. —< 8 >— An Eight Dollar Tip might be noticed and remembered.
If you're like most restaurant diners, you make several times as much money as your server. Practically every one is grossly underpaid, and many are single parents. —< 8 >— Have you read the book Nickeled and Dimed? —< 8 >— Eight Dollars means a whole lot more to him or her than to you.
It doesn't make it any easier to serve food to you if you got a $4 hamburger instead of a $12 steak — an Eight Dollar Tip is still the right answer. —< 8 >— The work of being a server has little to do with how much the food costs.
Could you do a better job than your server? If you haven't ever waited tables before, I doubt it. —< 8 >— It is exhausting, stressful work, to do all the running around, carrying heavy stuff, and dealing with the cooks and management, so you can eat in peace. —< 8 >— Show some gratitude: leave the Eight Dollar Tip.
Don't be concerned if the Eight Dollar Tip happens to be more than the price of the meal. —< 8 >— It's the server's effort that counts, not the restaurant's bottom line.
If you're in a Chinese restaurant, eight is an especially good idea. In Chinese tradition, certain numbers are believed to be auspicious or lucky, and 8 is the best. —< 8 >— The word and character for "eight" is associated with concepts like prosper, wealth, fortune, joy, and happiness. —< 8 >— Notice how practically every Chinese restaurant has 8s in its phone number? —< 8 >— Leaving an Eight Dollar Tip is a culturally sensitive way to offer best wishes to the server and the server's entire family, without needing to know a word of Chinese.
If you want to grade the service, make it pass/fail. —< 8 >— Ask yourself, was the service viciously bad? —< 8 >— Was there a total lack of any apology for spilling a bowl of soup in your lap? —< 8 >— Did the server treat you like a personal enemy? —< 8 >— Were your instructions completely ignored? —< 8 >— Did the server angrily refuse to take back burned or spoiled food? —< 8 >— Did the server spit chewing gum onto your plate without explanation, as if it were some weird garnish? —< 8 >— If the answer to any of those questions is "yes", then a Two Cent Tip is in order. —< 8 >— Otherwise, just leave the Eight Dollar Tip.
If you dine in expensive restaurants, where a meal for two would cost $50 or more, do not use the Eight Dollar Tip rule to justify tipping less than is normally expected.
If you are picking up a to-go order to eat elsewhere, it is appropriate to leave a half of the Eight Dollar Tip, that is, four dollars, regardless of the number who will be dining.
If a delivery person brings a meal, such as a pizza, directly to your house, across some distance and/or through heavy traffic, then he or she should get the full Eight Dollar Tip.

I have never waited tables in my life. But I often eat in restaurants. This is a simple, workable solution to that awkward moment at the end of a meal.

And now, if anyone questions it, you can just smile and say, "eight dollar tip dot com."

NEW! EightDollarTip.com has an online shop. Take a look.

Page created: January 23, 2013. Last revision: April 27, 2013.
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