Dunkin’ Donuts screws up cards, Starbucks gets them right

Dunkin’ Donuts, my favorite coffee chain, offers cards that you can use to buy coffee, donuts and other tasty treats. The company promises, “Auto-Recharge and never run out of funds.” They’re lying, and yesterday I canceled the the auto-recharge on my own card.

Like Starbucks, you can tie your Dunkin’ Donuts card to a credit card. But unlike Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts implements its auto-recharge feature in a very stupid way.

Twice now, in the past month, a Dunkin’ Donuts store has told me that there wasn’t a large enough balance on my auto-recharge-enabled card to cover the purchase, and has me pay the difference in cash.

If you have to carry cash because the card won’t get the job done, then what’s the point? Why promise, “Auto-Recharge and never run out of funds” if that’s not how it works?

In yesterday’s transaction in New York, the tab for coffee (for two people) and some donuts came to about $5. Evidently, there was about $2 left on the card, so I had to pay $3 in cash. Good thing I had it.

This is the customer-hostile algorithm that Dunkin’ Donuts apparently uses, even for auto-recharge cards:

IF (purchase price

A few hours after that unhappy transaction, I received an email from DunkinDonus.com telling me that my card had been recharged. Fat lot of good that did me while I was in the store, guys. Stupid, stupid.

Having now canceled my Dunkin’ Donuts auto-recharge, I’ll use up the remaining balance one final time, and then discard the card. If I have to ensure that I have enough cash for the transaction, why bother carrying it?

By contrast, I’ve been using a Starbucks card a lot longer than I’ve been using the Dunkin’ Donuts card, and it gets a lot more transactions. It has never, ever failed to cover a purchase in full. Here’s the customer-friendly algorithm that Starbucks apparently uses:

IF (purchase price

That’s why I’m keeping my well-worn Starbucks card, but tossing the newer Dunkin’ Donuts card once it’s empty. Dunkin’ Donuts: great coffee, lousy software.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick