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Dunkin’ Donuts Drama Is the Internet at Its Best

Monitor A Weekly column This section is dedicated to all things happening in the WIRED The world of culture: movies, memes and TV, as well as Twitter.

If you live on America’s East Coast—or date Ben Affleck—chances are you have an affinity for Dunkin’ Donuts. Even if you don’t like their baked goods or hate their coffee, you still know that brightly-colored logo as a sign that you’re home. The yellow checkerboard design of Waffle House, in the South, or the In-n-Out arrow West is the same. People feel brand loyalty to the Dunkin’ name. They used to until last week.

Actually, the problems started two weeks ago, when the breakfast food chain swapped its consumer loyalty program, DD Perks, for a revamped one called Dunkin’ Rewards, “designed to help keep you running all day long with the best that Dunkin’ has to offer.” Sounds amazing, but there was one problem: Coffee drinkers can do math. Soon, folks realized that, under the new program, they’d have to get twice as many points to get free Beverages and their loved ones free birthday drinks had disappeared.

“What idiot do you think I am, Dunkin’?” wrote one Reddit user. “This reward system is CRAP,” wrote another. Someone called the removal of the birthday drink “a slap in the face.” In an excellent dig, a redditor with the handle PeepnSheep said, “Good thing I live 5 mis from a Starbs lol. RIP dunks, it was nice while you were actually rewarding, even tho you only got my drinks right ⅓ of the time.” There were calls for boycott; people were encouraged to submit complaints.

The internet is capable of bringing about the type of consumer revolt that this felt. In meatspace, familiar restaurant signs unite people under a common love of “animal style” burgers or Mexican pizzas. They can also come together online to vent their frustrations and share their love of Mexican pizzas. In recent months, chains ranging from Subway to P. F. Chang’s have altered their loyalty programs. The internet can be used to help people mobilize during a recession where food prices have risen, and when they are less loyal. It’s also no surprise that a lot of the chatter on the Dunkin’ subreddit involved people just trying to figure out how to Get the best out of the Rewards program.

It’s unclear exactly what will come of all this. Maybe Dunkin’ will revert back to its old system; maybe customers will just give up on the chain and never come back. No matter the outcome, it’s a helluva way to ring in Posting Your PSL on IG season.

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