2022 has been the year of large coffee chain loyalty program controversy. First it was Tim Horton’s using their app to track users every move without their consent (and then trying to make it up to them with $6 worth of coffee and pastry). Then Starbucks heard that people were into NFTs, so they said sure why not, releasing their new Odyssey loyalty program that’s basically a stamp card but with more blockchain. Not to be left out, Dunkin’ figured it was time to release a spanking new loyalty app, and so far it’s going poorly.
As reported by Jezebel and a million other websites—not to mention every stoop and window in the greater New England area—Dunkin’ recently rolled out Dunkin’ Rewards, a new loyalty program to take over the legacy program, DD Perks. Under the old regime, customers would receive five points for every dollar they spent, which they could then redeem for a free drink of their choice at 200 points. With 100-point Mondays, per Jezebel, some customers were pulling in a free drink every week or two.
With Dunkin’ Rewards, customers earn double the points they did per dollar under the previous system. Sounds great, right? So what’s the hub-bub about? Well, turns out Dunkin’ jacked up the amount of points you needed to get a free drink. Freebies now required anywhere between 500 and 900 points. Put in real dollars, a Dunkin’ signature latte that once required $40 worth of purchasing to earn now needs $90. Throw in removing free birthday drinks, and the Dunkies are ready to revolt.
Points manipulation aside, many users are upset over the messaging surrounding the new rewards program. “Because our members deserve more! Dunkin’ Rewards is designed to help keep you running all day long with the best that Dunkin’ has to offer,” states the Dunkin’ website about the change, leading many to head to the Dunkin’ Subreddit to sound off. “What idiot do you think I am, Dunkin’? I’m making LESS points and unlocking LESS rewards thanks to this new stingy system,” one user stated. “Don’t try to piss on me and tell me it’s raining,” said another.
This has led many to swear off Dunkin’ for good, opting instead for Starbucks or McDonalds or even the Wawa. Who knows—if even a few New England Dunkies enthusiasts use this as an excuse to check out some delicious independent specialty coffee options in their area, it’s a net win. But boycotts are a tricky thing, as protests against major brands like the NFL, Nike, Marvel movies, and just about anything people once loved before getting really mad at have shown. It’s real hard to make them stick, especially if that means driving past Dunkin’ after Dunkin’ in the course of your daily life. I mean, Tim Hortons illegally harvested data on millions of people and we still came back for Crullers and Honey Dips. We get the coffee-adjacent data-driven surveillance state para-social sub-economy we deserve.