Guide to DDPerks for the Non-Millenial

Imagine this, my favorite coffee joint has its own app.

It took me a year to discover DDPerks rewards. Discovering it was inevitable—I have Dunkin’ Donuts coffee at least a few times a week, and the 127th time I saw a placard or sticker that said “Register Your DD Card Online for Rewards,” I actually paid attention and registered my card. It was very exciting—just for registering it, I earned a free beverage, which I promptly used within 24 hours.

That’s marketing success for you—only 127 impressions for a consumer to take action.

But really, it was an easy sell—I’ve been a longtime user of DD cards to pay for coffee. I learned a long time ago it’s a lot easier to reload a pre-paid card $20 at a time than to have to haul out a couple of bucks on every visit.

I also understand the benefits of these rewards cards: the more I buy, the more they suck me in with freebies to buy more. But imagine the possibilities—free hot DD after every New England Patriots’ football win! New Englanders received more than 2.25 million coffees from their season this year from DD.

(Of course, I didn’t discover that freebie until a few weeks before the AFC title game, so I only got one free cup out of it, and now I have to wait another year and to see if my beloved Pats will recover.)

I learned recently that AARP members can show their card at DD and get a free donut with the purchase of a large or XL beverage. My significant other recently qualified for AARP, and to demonstrate his romantic generosity, he got me my own card so we could be twins.

But once you turn 50, the human body is unable to metabolize donuts. So what good does that do?

DD Deals don’t end with the Pats and AARP, though—throughout the month of January, a medium hot coffee was only a $1.39 for DD Perks users. All for the simple price of giving them my name, email address, birthday, and other important information like exactly how many cups of decaf I drink on a weekly basis.

Someday, when my identity is stolen from Dunkin Donuts, some crazy lunatic out there will have a record of every single long trip I have taken over several years and exactly how much coffee I need to drink on workdays to get the job done.

I recently lost my DD prepaid card. I was a little traumatized, because a colleague had given it to me when he took another job, and so that card was special—I always asked for it back so I could reload it when it hit $0.

But even worse, I had put $20 on it the week before I lost it. But then I suddenly remembered, “Wait a minute! I once saw someone who walked up to the DD counter and showed their phone and they scanned it and paid for their coffee that way! There must be a DD app!”

So I went to the Google Play Store and downloaded the DD app. Because I had signed up for DD rewards, a bar code scan popped up for a free coffee so I clicked that reward button, held it up to the drive-through counter, and the DD worker waved a magic wand and I drove away free as a bird.

This is amazing! I thought.

Later that evening, when I was in the middle of a four-hour drive home from Maine, I decided to stop for another cup. This time, I noticed that there was another special—that large coffee for $1.39 anytime after 2 p.m. But I wasn’t sure exactly how to get the special, so I asked the guy at the drive-thru window.

“How do I get this $1.39 special?” I asked.

He said, “I have no idea, I just click the wand, so I’ve never used the app.”

Well, that’s helpful, Mr. Millennial, I thought.

But by then, I had figured it out. I said, “Oh see, I just push the picture of the card, and then click Pay, and that’s how you get to that screen.”

He scanned it and said, “Thank you, that’s $1.39.” I pulled two dollar bills out of my wallet, and he took them and said, Thank you, have a good night.”

But he didn’t give me back my change. So I said, “I gave you $2 and it was $1.39.”

And he said, “Yes, you paid with your phone.”

“Yes, but it’s $1.39 and I gave you $2.”

“You paid with your phone,” he said.

And then I got it. I had already paid with my phone. He was trying to put my $2 in his tip jar for exceptional service.

So then I felt bad, and stupid, so I said “Keep it,” and he grinned and said, “Thank you.”

And I drove away.

Even with this DDPerks coolness, I miss those days when I used to go to Dunkin’ Donuts with my mom. We’d sit at the long, curvy counter, and a waitress in a brown dress with a cigarette butt in her mouth would come pour coffee in my mom’s mug, and mix hot cocoa for me, with a dollop of whipped cream on top. And I would happily eat chocolate-frosting-filled donuts and didn’t even know what metabolizing was.

In those days, nobody cared about whether the Pats won because the Pats always lost. And no one even had visions of a cell phone or cell phone apps in their heads. We would never double pay for our coffee in that simple world without electronic transactions. Probably no one even used credit cards to pay for their coffee then. But I guess we always had to leave the smokin’ waitress a tip.