Dunkin' Donuts Won't Give You A Cup Of Iced Coffee Because You Look Under 18

Coffee lovers, rejoice! Dunkin’ Donuts is giving away free 16 oz. cups of iced coffee today—unless you look under 18 and don’t have identification. Tipster Carolyn watched with disbelief as workers at the Dunkin’ Donuts at 1433 2nd Avenue on New York’s Upper East Side refused to serve two high school seniors who didn’t have identification.

Carolyn writes:

I walked into the Dunkin’ Donuts and there were three people ahead of me in line. The first two were two girls, who were together. One asked for a free iced coffee, and the guy behind the counter asked her for ID.

She asked why he needed it, and he responded that she had to be over 18 to receive the free coffee. She asked if he was serious, and said she didn’t have any ID.

At that point, those of us behind her in line started saying that we’d never heard of that rule, and I said that I’m a high school teacher and many of my 14-year-old students today had gotten free iced coffee.

He replied that he didn’t make the rules, and the girls left.

The woman ahead of me and I then pulled out our IDs to get our coffee, but he said he didn’t need to see them, it was just that those girls looked so young to him.

How odd! Let’s look at Dunkin’ Donuts Brand Marketing Officer Frances Allen’s description of free iced coffee day:

We look forward to treating everyone to a free cup of our delicious, freshly brewed iced coffee on May 15.

Not everyone who look over 18. Not everyone with ID. Everyone!

We called the Dunkin’ Donuts on 2nd Avenue and said that we were 17 and in need of free iced coffee. They told us to get lost, adults only. For the hell of it, we called two more Dunkin’ Donuts’ down the block. Neither is carding customers, and one told us to “bring the kids.”

According to the corporate office, free iced coffee day is for everyone. They’re trying to track down the franchisee to work out a solution. Another free iced coffee day seems in order. Kids only.

(Photo: cheesebikini)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Lucky225 says:

    Another retailer asking for ID for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

  2. musitron says:

    Since when did caffeine become a controlled substance?

    There are Dunkin Donuts where I live, else I’d be tempted to get a vanload of kids (without IDs) and take everyone for iced coffee.

    Screw any company that tries to sue its franchises out of business.


  3. catnapped says:

    “Ah, another slow day on the consumerist. I applaud Dunkin Donuts in refusing to pump out kids full of caffeine.”

    Or something like that…just saving the peanut gallery the trouble

  4. RagingTowers says:

    The guy behind the counter just wanted to see their IDs so he could make sure they were legal before he hit on them

  5. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    I was at three DD’s in Boston today, and one was full of dozens of middle school kids getting their free iced coffees.

  6. ironchef says:

    it’s the same policy at costco for sampling…you need your parents permission.

    It’s a sue-happy society. That’s what you get.

  7. Saydrah says:

    Good for them for being cautious about liability. A bill was recently introduced in my state to ban coffee and energy drinks in high schools after a child was sent home vomiting and in a cold sweat after drinking Red Bulls one after another all day.

  8. TechnoDestructo says:

    @musitron: Don’t forget to screw Quiznos AND Subway, then. (Their approach is mostly just to oversell the franchises, though.)

  9. ChipMcDougal says:

    I’ll take an iced coffee and a copy of penthouse please…

  10. OK, hate to be the guy who sticks up for D&D and their awful burnt coffee, BUT:

    Doesn’t some coffee contain nut extracts? Would a person with an allergy have a reaction? Can a minor give consent to waive the liability D&D might be held to were a child//minor to have an allergic reaction? I think if the answer to 1&2 is yes, and the answer to three is no, then this is a good rule. Especially if it’s the franchise owner responsible and not D&D. While they have deep pockets for a lawsuit, I’m sure a settlement would leave the franchise owner and all of his family out on the street.

  11. amoeba says:

    I’ve haven’t heard that coffee is for adults or at least that’s what Dunking Donuts are saying. I’ve been drinking coffee since I can remember. My mom, and I still do, used to prepare the “afternoon tea”. My mother doesn’t like tea, so she raised us (my brother and I) with coffee (with milk at that time). And the teacher said that her 14 yrs old student got their free iced coffee, maybe the server was just a douche.

  12. @amoeba: The teacher didn’t say which D&D his students went to. Carey tried two other shops who said “OK”, so I’m guessing it’s a specific franchise owner who made this policy.

  13. ChuckECheese says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: I think restaurants are generally not liable for serving food to people who just might be allergic to it, adult or minor. Taco Bell doesn’t card you for a gordita on the off-chance you are allergic to mystery meat. My grocery store doesn’t ask me if I’m gonna be allergic to those shrimps I’m buying.

  14. linbey says:

    It may have been during school hours and the manager wanted to make sure they werent truants

  15. amoeba says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: I pointed out what the teacher said about the students. I don’t care which D&D was. In my opinion, if one franchise does a bad job, they give a bad name to the whole brand name. So…?

  16. drjayphd says:

    Yeah, none of the Dunkin Donuts I went to today asked any questions, so that’s gotta be one franchiser covering their ass. (although the bigger problem would be someone who’s prepared to hit at least six locations in one day… which, being CT, isn’t THAT hard to do)

  17. B says:

    Is every free item offering going to come with a story of somebody not getting it? I had no trouble getting my free chicken sandwich at McDonalds. Well, except for the fact that it tasted like rubber. Other than that, it was fine.

  18. spinachdip says:

    @amoeba: Well, a we’re talking about a company that’s hand over their direct customer interaction to anyone as long as they’re willing to pay the franchise fee and put up with an onerous franchisee agreement. That company doesn’t evidently really value its brand that much.

  19. I RUN ON DUNKIN!! (see picture)

    No, but seriously, folks… ID’ing over Iced Coffee? Damn, that’s cold.

    Ignore the pun, it was intended.

  20. The guy was horny and the girls were good looking jail-bait.

  21. parad0x360 says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: Dunkins coffee is excellent. If you are getting it burnt then that user error, not the beans.

    Every morning at 5am I get a coffee from a nice old lady at a gas station dunks and its always perfect. Every morning at 8:30 am I get an iced coffee from a Indian man at a Dunks in a mall. Always perfect.

    A couple times someone got me some Starbucks coffee…nasty

  22. Trades Joe’s won’t give samples to kids unless a parent or guardian says it’s ok. I saw that myself I’m guessing for some reason the store wanted to make sure they were adults. I also wonder what high school they went to. back when I was in high school we all had picture ID’s from the school. middle school kids drinking coffee is wrong kids are hyper enough as it is they don’t need any stimulants

  23. TheDude06 says:

    Im sure clerks are fully trained in checking and identifying all forms of identicication… oh wait, wtf… its dunkin doughnuts

  24. SayAhh says:

    Coffee nazis! lol

  25. GilloD says:

    There was an entire highschool at the Columbus Circle store getting iced coffee today.

  26. Lea9017 says:

    My sister and I got our coffee with no problem, we’re not 18 and I doubt the girl behind the counter was any older than us so I’d be surprised if she asked us for id. we also went by McDonalds and got chicken sandwhiches.

  27. TheRealAbsurdist says:

    I’ve been strung out on coffee ever since I was old enough to pour a cup and turn on the TV by myself. And i can’t begin to tell you how glad I am, living in California, that DD is an east coast phenomenon. I’ve had more than enough dealings with their incompentent/uncaring/drunk/cracked out staff when I travel to yhe right coast to know I don’t want them here.

    BTW, Timbit firing aside… Tim Horton’s for the win!

  28. ChuckECheese says:

    @Lea9017: You are busted. I’m calling the Mormon police. You shouldn’t have had that coffee. And then I’m calling the chicken police, just because.

  29. loueloui says:

    I was able to score a cup this afternoon. Unfortunately, it reminded me of why I don’t rust water -er, I meant iced coffee. I’m not sure if the staff was just burnt out by this time and didn’t care, or this was really how it was supposed to taste but whichever the results were not very good. I loves me some Dunkin Donuts regular coffee though.

  30. rg says:

    Here’s the funny part, if they DID give free coffee to a minor then some cholo from California would be taking them to court for contributing to the delinquency of a minor!

  31. pigeonpenelope says:

    @RagingTowers: cynical, yet quite funny. i wouldn’t doubt it
    @Git Em SteveDave: good point

    @ironchef: yeah costco is quite particular about that…i was there last week and they were sampling chocolate calciums supplements… one mom wanted to give it to her child and the sampler lady practically freaked out.

    personally, i think this guy was being a douche. i’ve been drinking hot coffee and tea since i was three years old. i even had my own mug. my parents did not police my caffeine intake and neither should dd

  32. pigeonpenelope says:

    @loueloui: ewwww yeah, fast food iced coffee probably not the best

  33. HaloZero says:

    @ironchef: Seriously, I don’t remember that? Myabe its a store specific thing. I never had to present a card when I ran out getting free samples.

  34. Kounji says:

    They’re trying to use the minor not being able to give proper consent to drink a potentially harmful substance. However, they have no basis because caffeine isn’t considered to be a controlled substance.

  35. Kajj says:

    @rg: Cholo? Kinda weird to get all racist over iced coffee. Or is that just the way you are all the time?

  36. Kounji says:

    @Kounji: * cough* okay let me rephrase that. They seem like they’re trying to use the part of contract law that says a minor can withdraw consent due their incapacity to understand contracts. However, coffee is not a controlled substance so they are no more liable serving to a kid then they are any adult.

  37. Kounji says:

    Also I think this is the case of the franchise probably not wanting to lose a ton of money on corporate promotions like this. Another example of why franchises suck from the consumer end.

  38. Voltanis says:

    Ok, here’s my question on this whole thing…

    If they had instead decided to BUY an iced coffee, would they have allowed the sale? Or was it denied simply because it was free?

  39. rabiddachshund says:

    @Saydrah: That’s the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. At what point does the kid assume responsibility? Vicious circles like this are the reason society sucks: All blame gets put on the parents and the children grow up passing it on to someone else like McDonald’s for making their coffee too hot.

    FFS, make the morons take responsibility for their actions. Either they’ll learn not to touch the stove or they’ll die. Natural selection shouldn’t only apply to nature.

    And as for Dunkin Donuts, fail.

  40. thejynxed says:

    We have no Dunkin’ Donuts in our area, and the McDonald’s here didn’t offer any free chicken sandwiches. I feel deprived. They only have Sausage McMuffins 2/$3. Yuck. Then again, when you live in an area where the major shopping consists of Wal-Mart unless you want to drive about 45 minutes to an OfficeMax, well… (yet we have an Applebee’s, go figure).

  41. utensil42 says:

    @hypochondriac: Yes, most schools have photos on their student ID cards, but they do not have birth dates on them. Thus, they are useless for proving age.

  42. pfeng says:

    I wouldn’t want my children served coffee.

    Of course, the oldest is only 4 :P

  43. B says:

    When I was younger, I was told that caffeine would stunt your growth. Is that an old wive’s tale?

  44. spinachdip says:

    @rabiddachshund: McDonald’s DID make the coffee too hot. Again and again and again. The much misunderstood and misrepresented coffee case has nothing to do with personal responsibility or faux-Darwinism.

  45. JDAC says:

    @pigeonpenelope: Me too! It’s practically the law growing up in england anyway. I always found it odd watching cartoons making a big deal about kids drinking coffee…

    In any case, iced coffee? What’s wrong with people?! Gas station coffee FTW!

  46. @B: I drank coffee all the time when I was young, and I didn’t notice anything. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put the box in the car so I can see over the wheel.

  47. nedzeppelin says:

    caffeine should be a controlled substance way before pot… caffeine is extremely toxic and pure caffeine just on your skin would kill you

    pot – totally nontoxic!

    time to legalize it.

  48. Lambasted says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: Love it! LOL!

    I have to say, I like the idea of young’ins not drinking coffee. I miss the social mores that used to define us as a people. Not that it was illegal but everyone understood that coffee was for grown-ups and most wouldn’t have dared to serve it to a kid.

    Coffee was viewed as a right of passage when I grew up and was off limits until I was “old enough”. I still remember the look my father gave me the first time he saw me make a cup at home. I think it was my first visit after I went to college. He was stunned and shocked to see his “little girl” drinking coffee but he realized I wasn’t a kid anymore and said nothing.

    Years ago, I was so curious about our cultural reluctance to let kids drink coffee I searched the internet to find out what other people thought. I found a couple of forum topics on the subject and it seemed the majority of comments were also against kids drinking coffee. Some Europeans chimed in and commented that Americans are too uptight (what else is new) and that it is perfectly acceptable behavior in Europe (what isn’t).

    Starbucks has ruined the innocence of kids. Let them eat cake, drink milk and but no latte mochachino’s for them.

    Thank you Dunkin Donuts!! I’m buying a chocolate creme donut tomorrow in honor of you doing the right thing instead of pandering for a buck like Starbucks.

  49. lovelygirl says:

    damn. Well its a good thing that I didn’t go because people never believe me when I tell them my age :( I hate it! I feel like it’s discrimination–age based hehe

  50. mikelotus says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: You should of hated it more and not do it. Should we not allow anyone under 18 to buy things that they may put in their bodies?

    @Saydrah: ban coffee? your school must not be in America? Some place like China or Japan where they drink tea mainly perhaps.

    @hypochondriac: They stopped with the ID’s after the Korean War evidently. Guess the fact that in the south we drank a coke and 2 Ice Teas a day by age 9 was wrong too? Go away.

    @spinachdip: yea, that is was too hot was obvious to anyone that bought it. it was scolding hot for no good reason except to cover up the crappy taste since improved greatly.

  51. takotchi says:

    Ridiculous. I would have told the cashier to shove it as soon as they asked me for ID. I refuse to show ID for anything unless required by law. That includes video games, coffee, correction fluid, permanent markers, and whatever other bologna stores have come up with.

  52. mrearly2 says:

    Talk about rule-bound (idiots)! And there was no rule…
    WTF! It’s only coffee!

  53. josh42042 says:

    At the D&D in Jersey city’s journal square today, they were out of ice. we brought our own.

  54. Lambasted says:

    @mrearly2: Sorry buddy, I wasn’t raised by wolves. Where I came from and when I grew up (you must be young no doubt) kids sipped Ovaltine not Maxwell House.

    Yawn…to each his own really. If you find nothing wrong with it then by all means get the Columbian tankers flowing and serve your kiddies up a double shot of Espresso with their mac n’cheese and chicken fingers. Your little Juan Valdez, Jr. will love you for it.

  55. ClayS says:

    The’ve got every right to ask for ID. Customers have every right to refuse, but they aren’t entitled to a free iced coffee if they will not comply with the terms of the promotion.

  56. Jaysyn was banned for: https://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @Git Em SteveDave:

    It’s not a “rule”. Please try to read the article before you comment.

  57. Nick1693 says:

    ClayS, it wasn’t in the promotion in the first place, they’re just spewing a bunch of BS because they don’t want to lose money.

    Saydrah, It was more than one Red Bull, and it can happen anywhere. In my opinion, the kids lucky it was in school where there was someone who could treat him.

  58. Brewtang says:

    All it was is a cheap a** franchisee and/or manager that realized they were giving away a lot of coffee to minors and decided and came up with an excuse to not have to anymore. I’m sure they could care less about your allergies or espicially your health at Dunkin Donuts.

  59. tape says:

    I saw a couple of kids who could not possibly have been older than 8 drinking iced coffee outside a Dunk’s last evening.


    my mom would have slapped me if I tried to drink coffee when I was 8.

  60. ViperBorg says:

    @Saydrah: Hmm… some parenting can take care of that.

    @Git Em SteveDave: And thus violated his agreement with DD.

    @linbey: I don’t think so. If that was the case, then shouldn’t the teacher writing this be at work at the time? And even if it’s lunch time, when I was in HS, we were allowed to leave school property to get lunch that wasn’t cooked in the dungeon.

    @B: Hang upside down for a while each day, you’ll be fine. :P

    @Lambasted: Ovaltine tastes nasty.

    @ClayS: Show me where it said that you need to be a certain age or show ID to get your free iced coffee.

  61. WampaLord says:

    Everyone who is wigging out over coffee for kids:

    Isn’t it much much better than them chugging soda? I believe soda/coffee have similar amounts of caffeine and at least coffee doesn’t come loaded with sugar (unless you add it) or chemicals.

    Ideally, sure, we want them drinking water/orange juice/V8, but if they are going to drink something that’s bad for them, I’d rather it be coffee than soda.

  62. rdunlap says:

    @Brewtang: Of course, franchisees looking to save money had other options as well. In an echo of the recent Ben & Jerry’s story, the normally-open-until-9PM Dunkin Donuts nearby was closed at 7:45 PM when my wife stopped by.

  63. RandomHookup says:

    How close was the outlet to a high school? I could just see what would happen to a DD across from a school once word got out about free anything. No one else would be able to get anything, free or not. Just a way to keep the HS crowd from overwhelming the place. Not cool, but kinda like the malls that limit the hours teenagers can hang out.

  64. Tank says:

    i was done with dunkin donuts when i found out they were fucking small franchisees out of their businesses. i hope this added bad pr takes out the third engine and they tailspin into the ground.


  65. Scuba Steve says:

    1. Do not feed the trolls.
    2. Do not pretend to be the trolls to feed the anti-trolls.
    3. Don’t confuse the new posters who don’t understand the joke.

    That is all.

  66. smirky says:

    I’m confused. I didn’t even ask for a free cup of iced coffee and I most certainly don’t look under 18.

    Damn these headlines.


  67. Crymson_77 says:

    This kind of shit just pisses me off. Someone, ANYONE, near this asshat store…please stop by, buy 3 coffees, and then ACCIDENTALLY spill them all over the counter!

  68. jsttheman says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: That doesn’t make sense. If someone knew that they had a peanut allergy why would get get coffee in the first place? As long as somewhere it is posted that it may contain peanuts then there is no liability. It’s free coffee for everyone so by checking their ID, to me that’s a form of discrimination. That’s the liability they should watch out for!

  69. LibertyReign says:

    @Git Em SteveDave:

    LOL. What is wrong with you?

  70. LibertyReign says:

    Too far yet, slaves?

  71. LibertyReign says:



  72. midwestkel says:

    The dude was trying to get thier address so he can stalk them.

  73. jsttheman says:

    @takotchi: But some stores are required to check ID for video games, which is the law, so, by that definition you do show your ID for video games.

  74. Crymson_77 says:

    @jsttheman: Actually, it isn’t the law. If it were a law, they could be fined for allowing children to buy M rated games. The ESRB is a non-government sponsored body that provides recommeded ratings for games. It is the same as for movies. It is only enforceable in the manner of kicking the person who “violated” the “rule” out of your establishment. No one can be arrested for it (unless you didn’t pay for the 2nd movie you were trying to watch…in which case it is considered theft if you get caught)

  75. Crymson_77 says:

    @midwestkel: I rather think you may have a good hint there…although, they did verify with the store’s management that this was their policy (and not the policy of Dunkin’ Donuts corporate)

    BTW…not sure why anyone consumes anything from DD…their stores are typically the filthiest I have ever encountered…

  76. reznicek111 says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but are there any U.S. jurisdictions where you can’t legally serve minors coffee? I think in this case, it’s more a truancy/anti-teen issue than an unspoken “coffee drinking age.”

    If the idea is to keep caffeine away from kids and teens, then you’ve got the entire soft-drink industry to deal with.

  77. dequeued says:

    I find miserable people who have crappy jobs LOOOVE asking for ID.
    I think it makes them feel important, I guess.

    I was in my school’s computer lab, and this lab “tech” demanded to know why I had my laptop plugged into the ethernet switch on the wall.

    “Because I just rebuilt my kernel and I haven’t gotten my wireless drivers working yet.. but don’t worry, this switch is on the same network segment as the school’s wireless network, so it doesn’t matter since I am authorized to have my laptop on -this- network.”

    He replies “Uh, umm, that use of a computer resources is illegal! Lets see some id or I am calling pubic safety!”

    “LOL, you’re funny. I am done anyway, keep it real, dude”

    “Come back here and show me ID or you’re in trouble!”


  78. wesrubix says:

    Why aren’t you carrying ID? Come on.

  79. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    I’m surprised the teacher isn’t freaking out over pumping kids full of caffeine and sugar. =)

    Still screwed up though. When I was still a teen I always got discriminated against because I looked too young to ever take anything seriously. -_-

  80. Crymson_77 says:

    @dequeued: Good response! LOL!

  81. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Coffee is a drug.

  82. groverexploder says:

    Cheap franchise owners, what’s the big deal?

    Corporate makes a promotion.
    Franchise doesn’t like it.
    Franchise tries to find ways to get out of it.
    Customer probably doesn’t notice.
    Franchise keeps a liiiiittle more money.