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If you live on the East Coast — or date Ben Affleck — chances are you have a soft spot for Dunkin’ Donuts. Even if you don’t like their baked goods or hate their coffee, you still know that a muted sign is your home sign. The same goes for the yellow checkerboard pattern of the waffle house in the south or the golden In-n-Out arrows in the west. People feel brand loyalty to the Dunkin name. Or, well, they didn’t do it until this week.
In fact, the problems started two weeks ago, when the breakfast food chain swapped its consumer loyalty program, DD Perks, for a revamped program called Dunkin’ Rewards “designed to help you get what Dunkin’ has to offer. Best kept on running all day.” Sounds amazing, but there’s a catch: coffee drinkers can do math. Soon, people realized they had to earn twice as many points to get a free drink under the new program, and their beloved free birthday drink was gone.
“What kind of idiot do you think I am, Duncan?” wrote one Reddit user. “This reward system is rubbish,” another wrote. Some called the cancellation of the birthday drink a “slap in the face”. In an excellent dig, a redditor named PeepnSheep said: “Good thing I live on Starbs’ 5 myths lol. RIP dunk, when you actually get paid, it’s good, even if you’re only in ⅓ of the time Got my drink.” Some call for boycott; people are encouraged to file complaints.
All in all, it feels like the kind of consumer revolt that only the internet can spark. In the meat space, familiar restaurant logos unite people under a shared love of “animal-style” burgers or Mexican pizza. Online, they get together to share their grievances and their fanatics. Chains from Subway to PF Chang’s have all changed their loyalty programs in recent months. In a recession where rising food costs are causing people to look for ways to save, the internet is where they mobilize when loyalty wanes. Not surprisingly, a lot of the discussion on Dunkin’ subreddit involves people just trying to figure out how to get the most out of the new reward system.
It’s unclear what will happen with all this. Maybe Dunkin’ will revert to the original system; maybe the client will drop the chain and never come back. Regardless of the outcome, posting your PSL during the IG season is a great way to go.