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Patrons Are Boycotting Dunkin' Over This Major Change: "Final Nail in the Coffin"

The company is catching flack for its recent overhaul of a major customer perk.

Even with plenty of options out there for caffeinated beverages, it's hard to think of a coffee chain with a more profoundly loyal fan base than Dunkin'. The company has become beloved for its fast-and-easy breakfast food options, hot and cold drinks, and donuts, with over 12,600 locations across 40 countries. But even if A-list celebrities like Ben Affleck frequent the chain, its customers' affections are not always unconditional. And now, some patrons are threatening to boycott Dunkin' due to a recent overhaul of a popular perk. Read on to see what's been called the "final nail in the coffin" by some loyal customers.

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Dunkin' has a popular customer loyalty program called DD Perks.

Dunkin' drive-thru

Whether it's an airline or outdoor gear retailer, companies have long used loyalty programs to keep their customers coming back and show gratitude for repeated business. Dunkin' is no different, launching its own DD Perks Rewards Program at the beginning of 2014. Since then, more than 18 million customers have signed on to rack up points good towards free drinks and a complimentary beverage on their birthday.

However, it can also be a time saver: The program has the added benefit of allowing customers to order their food and drink through the app so that it's waiting for them when they arrive at the restaurant or the drive-thru. And it can be used to pay at checkout with a customer's stored credit cards or gift cards. But while the program has made it even easier for some customers to stay loyal to Dunkin', some are now crying foul on the company.

Some loyal Dunkin' fans are threatening to boycott the coffee chain due to recent changes.

Confused angry woman having problem with phone, sitting on couch at home, unhappy young female looking at screen, dissatisfied by discharged or broken smartphone, reading bad news in message

It appears that Dunkin' may have underestimated the power of free coffee. A recent overhaul of the DD Perks app program is now drawing ire from its regular customers online, Jezebel reports. New changes announced last week make it harder for customers to redeem points, raising the amount required from 200 points for any style of drink to a new system that charges 500 to 900 points depending on the type and size of beverage. Others point out that points are now devalued, making it hard to earn and use them as quickly as before. And for some, the sudden loss of the annual free birthday beverage stings the most.

Some loyal fans took to Reddit to air their grievances. "I no longer run on Dunkin," one user wrote in a thread on the company's subreddit. "I officially uninstalled the app after six years of consistent use. I knew I needed to cut down how much I was spending on coffee considering I have a great coffee machine at home, but the new rewards system was the final nail in the coffin."

Others accused the chain of being misleading about the updated rewards program. "What idiot do you think I am, Dunkin'? I did that math. Even while 'boosted' I'm earning 30 percent less points compared to the old system," one user pointed out on the company's subreddit. "I'm making LESS points and unlocking LESS rewards thanks to this new stingy system."

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Longtime customers are saying they'll jump ship to competitors.

Take away iced coffee on table

Long-time Dunkin' devotees say the new system may finally push them into the arms of another coffee chain.

"There's a Wawa just as close to me, and their coffee and cold brew is just as good [in my opinion], and they have better food," one user wrote in a reply on the company's subreddit. "I've been a Dunkin' customer for a very long time, and I liked getting the free beverage reward every so often. I cut down recently because of price increases, but I would still get that reward often enough to keep me coming back."

While some pointed out that other readily available options like McDonalds remain much more affordable, others said it would be easy to switch to another chain. "I still have a free drink holdover from the old system. After I use up that drink, I'm done with Dunkin'," one commenter posted in a reply on the company's subreddit. "There's a Wawa or Sheets or Turkey Hill near just about every Dunkin' I go to. Quite happy to give them a try."

However, the user adds that it's not just the loss of the special perks that's influencing their decision. "Their service has been lackluster lately. I've been going less after they cut the size of the medium hot coffee and the coffee lids not fitting on as easily as the old cups/lids," they wrote. "Couple [of] times already I've had minor spills in the car. Who needs that?"

The company replied by saying it was "time for a change."

closed dunkin donuts store

But despite the outcry of some, other loyal fans aren't quite as upset with the coffee chain about the update.

"I was only using the app to order ahead, kind of saw the rewards as a fun surprise from time to time," one Reddit user posted in reply.

Fans also pointed out that competitors didn't necessarily offer better options when it came to loyalty programs—or even everyday pricing. "Starbucks' reward system isn't any better, and an equivalent iced coffee costs $2 more on average, so I'll stick with Dunkin' personally," one user replied.

Best Life has reached out to Dunkin' for comment but has yet to hear back. But in an exchange on Twitter on Oct. 10, the company explained that the loyalty overhaul was made with customers' demands in mind.

"After a few years, it was time for a change," the company wrote. "We listened to our members' feedback and made several new enhancements like redeeming points for rewards on food and drinks!"

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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