Dunkin’ Rewards Fans With Lack of Transparency

Thom Weidlich 10.13.22


Dunkin’ is being told by loyal (or formerly loyal) customers to wake up and smell the caffè macchiato: The donut chain’s newly revamped rewards program has a bitter taste, they say. The fact is, the company could have done a better job with its coffee talk.

The story is getting an amazing amount of attention — and blowback. Rolling Stone headline: “Dunkin’ Coffee Drinkers Are in Revolt After Changes to Rewards Program.”

Dunkin’, née Dunkin’ Donuts, announced the changes on Oct. 6. The problem is the news release contained a latte chatter (get it?) about how wonderful the revamp is, but customers were quick to sniff out the downsides too.

The positive changes are that the program now covers food, and customers get 10 points for every dollar spent rather than five. There’s also a “boosted status” for repeat customers.

Refreshment Type

On the other hand, the number of points for a free drink has gone up from 200 to between 700 and 900 depending on the type of refreshment. Customers have done the math and they’re not happy. They seem especially irate that the program no longer includes a free drink on one’s birthday. “That’s okay starbucks got me with my free bday drink,” one person commented on TikTok. Ouch.

To be honest, the new program, called Dunkin’ Rewards (replacing DD Perks), also seems unnecessarily complicated.

Dunkin’ should have predicted the alterations would upset many customers. It should have been more forthright in its press release about some products requiring many more points. Instead, it played coy by stating that “rewards start at just 150 points instead of 200 points.” But, in terms of java, the 150 is for a shot of espresso added to a drink.

Cost Saving

The lapse is especially weird because Dunkin’ President Scott Murphy told The Wall Street Journal (“Fans Are Dumpin’ on Dunkin’ After Rewards Change”) that cost saving was one reason for the switch. He even made a logical argument for the higher points requirement: Some drinks are more expensive to make.

The backlash has been intense. Customers are saying they’re deleting the rewards app. Some say they “no longer run on Dunkin’” — echoing the company’s “America Runs on Dunkin’” campaign. The Dunkin’ subreddit is particularly inflamed. One pleading post: “I know everyone hates the new reward program but wondering if they’ll end up revising it further due to backlash?”

So far, the company hasn’t responded much to its customers’ complaints. “Change can be hard for people,” Murphy told the WSJ. That seems a little insensitive given that we’re talking about something as important as one’s morning cup of joe.

Photo Credit: pancha.me/Shutterstock

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