Rogue, Penny-Abolishing Dunkin' Donuts Is No Longer Rogue Or Penny-Abolishing

Remember just a few days ago when we wrote about that visionary Dunkin’ Donuts franchise that had started a voluntary no-penny policy? Well it didn’t last long, as NPR has learned from Dunkin’ HQ that the penny-abolishing policy has since been abolished.

The suits at DD tell NPR that the store has removed the sign (seen here at left), but that it was not them who forced the franchisee to change their anti-penny position:

A Dunkin’ Donuts franchisee, who introduced a voluntary policy suggesting the elimination of pennies, has since removed the sign based on customer feedback….

Our franchisees are independent business people and as such make decisions that impact their restaurants, including whether or not to accept certain currencies, unless state law says otherwise.

Obviously, those customers who demanded an end to the policy are not Consumerist readers. When asked if its time for the penny to die already, almost 65% of you voted “yes.”

Rogue Dunkin’ Donuts Brings Back Penny [NPR]


Edit Your Comment

  1. obits3 says:

    This is a good start. Time to get the Halfpenny back!

  2. mikeyz says:

    Again, if they want to eliminate the penny by always rounding the change up, then there would be no problem.

    • Emperor Norton I says:

      You can’t eliminate the penny without eliminating all state sales taxes!
      Those that want to get rid of the penny are always in favor of that obscene national consumption tax!

      • pawnblue says:

        Or you know, prices could just include sales tax. You’d actually pay the stickler price. Then businesses could adjust their prices beforehand rather than rounding at the register.

        • Dover says:

          But I prefer the lax price.

        • aja175 says:

          I don’t think they can do that. In NY (at least when I ran a business here) there had to be a separate and distinct charge for sales tax. Same goes for companies that advertise no tax day sales or even the “we pay your sales tax” sales. They all got slapped around for it.

          • Geekybiker says:

            Almost most all food at sport and music venues is priced tax included. That way they can price so that they don’t have to give out nearly as many coins. (Usually quarters only) Do they not do that in new york?

            • wrjohnston91283 says:

              My guess is there is little enforcement of this law, if it is in new york. Or, what may be priced on the menu as “$7 including tax” is itemized on the receipt as “$6.48 plus 52 cents tax”

        • tsukiotoshi says:

          I found places did this in Australia and I loved it. You always knew exactly what you were paying and it was always even.

    • Dover says:

      How about rounding the change down and donating it to charity? I’ve shopped a place that did this and was fine with it. Just my 2¢, but it really adds up for good.

  3. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    How could they not take pennies? They are legal tender, and as such, they MUST be accepted under penalty of federal law! I bet getting a visit from the FBI is what made them change their tune. Would you rather deal with pennies or spend a month at GitMo?

    • duskglow says:

      Wrong. They are legal tender for *debts*. For example, after you’ve eaten your meal at a restaurant. For things where you give money and receive something in return, there is no obligation to accept any form of currency.

      • Skellbasher says:


        This comes up every time Apple releases a new iPhone, and only takes credit cards, no cash. For a straight exchange of merchandise, nobody is required to accept US currency.

      • Nidoking says:

        So if you can successfully reach past them and grab a doughnut, they’ve got to accept your pennies!

        Now, where to get a cheap pair of lazy tongs…?

    • minjche says:

      Looks like it just affected how they gave change, not how they accepted money.

    • McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

      Only if you somehow got them to loan you donuts.
      Which would be awesome.

    • catskyfire says:

      They don’t have to take any federally issued money. Though dealing with the question of more than 100 pennies, explains it pretty well.

      The Government must accept pennies, but individuals, merchants, etc are not bound to. A company could say that they would only accept payment in live kittens, if they chose.

      • obits3 says:

        Now that I think about it, let’s look at the following:

        1. Total is $1.98
        2. You give them 2 $1 bills.
        3. They now “owe” you $0.02
        4. You can demand that they pay you that debt in legal tender.
        5. The only way to pay you without them giving you free money would be to give you 2 pennies.
        6. Thus they would have to give you pennies or lose money.

        • Doubts42 says:

          Ore they could give you a nickel and balance out at the end of the day from folks like me who would rather have DD keep t he 2 cents and not have the pennies in my pocket.

        • Jezz1226 says:

          And they said that they would give pennies to those that requested them as part of their change…

    • RevancheRM says:


      A business providing a product is not required to sell said product, if it chooses to not accept the pro-offered form of payment. If a service has been rendered, however, all forms of legal tender must be accepted. (Details are lacking in my explanation, obviously.)

      And, as was said in the original article, the policy was voluntary on the part of the customer.

    • ajaxd says:

      “under penalty of federal law” – where do you get that? Money is a legal tender but that’s about it. If somebody only accepts pixie dust as form of payment you can’t force them to accept something else.

    • thanq says:

      So… what’s the penalty of federal law if a private (non-government) seller/business entity decides not to sell the item?

    • lacabaleza says:

      As many times as I’ve seen this rehashed on this site (as an occasional reader, no less), and pointed out that stores need not take cash as legal tender, with credible sources linked, it’s a shame a month in “GitMo” isn’t the penalty for asinine comments.

    • humphrmi says:

      You’re the devil. Reminds me of the line from Wayne’s World – “Fished In!” (makes gill movements with hands on neck.)

    • TheUncleBob says:

      Wow. I’d accuse you of trolling if it wasn’t for the fact that it was so darn funny reading the responses. ;)

  4. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I’d like my change in munchkins, rounded up please.

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Well, now I want a donut. Thanks, Consumerist.

    • Chris Morran says:

      No problem. Some day you will find out that we are secretly owned by a consortium of Dunkin’ Donuts and Tim Horton’s franchisees… oops, cat’s out of the bag now.

  6. MutantMonkey says:

    This idea works well on overseas military bases with little issue. I dont see why this cant take place here.

    Just make sure all prices always end up in a 5 or a zero.

  7. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    The problem is that even if 65% of the general public also wants to do away with pennies, those people have no non-penny alternative and are going to keep shopping there whether this business implements this policy or not. However, the people opposed to the policy may object to its implementation by not shopping there, so it’s not a matter of what the majority wants, but more of a matter of how strongly a minority will cling to their copper-clad zinc disks.

  8. scratchie says:

    Ha ha ha, you’ll have to fund your retirement accounts somewhere else, bloodsuckers!

  9. BigNick73 says:

    A Arby’s I used to frequent did something similar, they adjusted the prices so all the combo meals came out to even money no change needed.

  10. DanRydell says:

    I knew stupidity would prevail as it always does in this penny debate.

  11. Rachacha says:

    I wonder if DD pricing was such that the majority of sales resulted in the change being rounded down (in DD’s favor). Assuming that they had 2000 transactions in a day and 80% were rounded down, that results in $32 “change profit” per day or $224/week and almost $12,000/year. Not bad for keeping a couple of pennies with every transaction.

    • ElDiablo says:

      What’s the difference — they can bump up prices so they always round in the customer’s favor too. If people are pissed about 2 cents, well, at least you’re angry about something.

      Where’s the outrage over retailers that round tax up (for instance, when tax is 5% and the total is $10.11 — tax is 50.55 cents but will normally round up to 51). Yet, they will only remit sales tax to the state based on the total. A large retailer could price their items such that the rounding favors them, multiply it times thousands or even millions of transactions.

    • SabreDC says:

      How would DD know what I was planning to order? I can see your point on single-item orders, but what about multi-item orders? If a donut comes to $0.98 and I pay with a dollar, they might make off with that $0.02. However, what if I get a donut and coffee, which now comes to $2.03 or something? How can they manipulate a price when combining orders may reverse if a number is rounded up or down?

    • DanRydell says:

      This possibility has already been debunked many times.

      Suppose you price every item so that it would round up by 2 pennies (i.e. the price is some multiple of 5, + 3).

      If you buy any one item, the total would round up by 2 cents
      If you buy any two items, the total would round down by 1 cent
      If you buy any three items, the total would round up by 1 cent
      If you buy any four items, the total would round down by 2 cents
      If you buy any five items, the total would not round

      From here on, +1 = round up by 1, -2 = round down by 2, etc

      If you price every item so the price ends with a multiple of 5, +4:

      1 item = +1
      2 item = +2
      3 item = -2
      4 item = -1
      5 item = 0

      If you price every item with so the price ends with a multiple of 5, +2
      1 item = -2
      2 item = +1
      3 item = -1
      4 item = +2
      5 item = 0

      If you price every item so the price ends with a mutliple of 5, + 1
      1 item = -1
      2 item = -2
      3 item = +2
      4 item = +1
      5 item = 0

      Really, if a retailer wanted to get an extra penny or two out of each transaction, they would raise the prices of ~10% of their items by a nickel apiece. Believe me when I tell you that the only motivation behind eliminating the penny is to eliminate the hassle of dealing with pennies. I have been the guy who had to carry a week’s worth of change from the bank back to a retail store. Pennies are evil.

      • DH405 says:

        Nice math, but it’s all worthless. They know the exact frequency of certain purchases that lead to certain totals. You see, these days the cash registers have computers built right in! And they don’t take up a whole room, either!

        • DanRydell says:

          It’s not at all worthless, but you’re right that it doesn’t tell the whole story. Fit a reasonable looking frequency distribution curve on any of those 4 pricing options that results in a substantial swing in DD’s favor. The only two option that have a prayer of working in DD’s favor are the two that have +2 and +1 adjacent to each other. The problem is, they also have +2 and -2 adjacent to each other. It’s unlikely that their frequency distribution would let them price their products to take advantage of rounding.

          And if you’re imagining some more complex pricing scheme based on data that shows that X% of their customers buy 1 coffee and 2 donuts, Y% of their customers buy 1 coffee, 1 donut and 1 bagel, and Z% of their customers just buy a bagel, then you’re living in a fantasy world my friend.

          If you really think this is a scheme to rip off customers for an average of less than 2 cents per transaction, let me introduce you to my buddy William of Ockham. You can use his razor to slit your wrists, because you’ve failed at life if you can’t recognize the reality of this situation – pennies are a waste of time, effort, money, and natural resources.

          Why the hell aren’t you people campaigning to bring back the half penny? Where is the outrage over all those fractional cents that gas stations rip you off for?

          • DH405 says:

            Well, first, I wasn’t arguing about the merits of people accusing DD of ripping them off via this scheme. I was arguing about the math here.

            Do I think DD is doing this? No way, it seems like a really stupid course of action as a moneymaker. Much easier would be upping the price of their coffee by a penny or two.

            As for the math, it’d be a simple matter of looking at the distribution of receipt totals. Looking at the digits, compare the ones ending in 0/5, 1/6, 2/7, 3/8, and 4/9. If they have more points of the 1/6 & 2/7 (With 1 point for 1/6 & 2 points for 2/7) than the 3/8 & 4/9 (According points, only negative) then you do it. If the negative points have it, you don’t. Also, you’d have to figure in the odds of people asking for their pennies and how that’d change the points balance.

            It’s stupid, and it’s not happening. It could, but it isn’t.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      Dunkin’ Donuts shops have FAR less than 2000 transactions a day – 500 per day would be be a good guess for an average.

  12. PLATTWORX says:

    While I dislike pennies, DD is full of it and there had to be something in the franchise agreement they invoked. You can’t have ONE DD suddenly deciding it will not longer accept one denomination of US currency. What on Earth was this owner of this store thinking? The negative PR alone makes it foolish.

    • kataisa says:


    • Gulliver says:

      Why not? It took MANY years for all MCds to accept credit card payments. There is nothing in the franchise agreement that requires they accept any form of payment. By law, it can not be there. DD can advise, but not demand.

      • psm321 says:

        Wait, what? Why would McD be forbidden by law from putting that in an agreement if they wanted to? (or did I misunderstand what you’re saying?)

      • wrjohnston91283 says:

        Franchise agreements CAN require certain forms of payment. For instance, if corporate wants to start a gift card program, they can require franchisees to accept gift cards (which means buying the equipment and enrolling in the program). Same thing with credit cards – buy equipment, sign up to accept payments, and pay the transaction fees.

    • davidc says:

      “You can’t have ONE DD suddenly deciding it will not longer accept one denomination of US currency.”

      Why not? … besides, they were not stopping YOU from giving THEM your pennies so they were in fact “accepting” all denominations.

      Pretty dumb though as they could just price their items in such a way to generally eliminate pennies in all but a extremely small percentage of transactions.

  13. ElizabethD says:

    Umm. Today I got a nickel in change at a DD in Rhode Island when I was actually owed only four cents.

    • minjche says:

      I wouldn’t chalk that up to a policy against pennies but instead to a cashier with a case of the I-don’t-give-a-fuck’s.

    • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

      And today, I bought a pack of cigarettes that cost $9.86. I gave the cashier $10 and he gave me back 15¢. Guess he doesn’t like dealing with pennies either.

  14. HoJu says:

    “A whole straw’penny??” :)

  15. barty says:

    Who are these people who are so in love with pennies? In the end, the rounding, both up and down, probably favors neither the business or consumer over a long enough timeline.

    I would LOVE going into a fast food restaurant, or other business where I normally pay cash and not have to get pennies in change.

    • frank64 says:

      Very petty people.

      Or it could be older people who still think money is still worth the same. I think I do this too, just not with pennies.

  16. Pax says:

    It certainly is time for the penny to die – but until it does, failing to give me my pennies is theft.

    • minjche says:

      It was actually a voluntary thing, so if you wanted your pennies they were yours for the taking.

      Random bold text.

  17. SuperQ says:

    A number of smaller shops, mostly coffee places, do “tax included” prices. Instead of charging $1.79+Tax for a coffee, they just charge $2.00 and deal with the sales tax later. No change at all. Most of them round the prices to the $0.25.

  18. stormbird says:

    I hate pennies. A friend and I would collect our pennies at the end of the night and try to slip them in the other person’s coat or car or shoes. Eventually we discovered that pennies fit in those little toy guns that fire disks.

    Cheap beer is a hell of a drug.

  19. notgoodenough says:

    “Rounding” has been standard practice in Australia for at least 10 years and it works really well. The Government then took the 1 and 2 cent coins out of circulation. Our smallest denomination coin is now 5 cents.

  20. EyeintheLAsky says:

    November 2, 2010 2:53 PM

    How could they not take pennies? They are legal tender, and as such, they MUST be accepted under penalty of federal law!

    i use to think the same thing.

    However, that is NOT true. There is NO such law.

    Merchants have the right to NOT accept us currency for payment. The US Treasury says so:


    “There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services.

    Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.

    For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills.
    In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.”

  21. jim says:

    I find it amazing that none of you have bothered to read the note correctly.

    It states that they will be returning the customers change rounded up to the nearest nickle. in other words they would be eating the cost of the extra pennies.

    This has nothing to do with not accepting them as ‘legal tender’.

    • minjche says:

      I find it amazing that you didn’t read the note correctly either.

      In the first example, yes, DD is rounding up to the next nickel, thereby giving the customer extra pennies. In the second example, however, DD is rounding down, so the customer would be losing a few pennies.

      Please check your own facts, especially when they are literally handed to you, prior to going into pedantic mode.

  22. DragonThermo says:

    Looking at the comments, more than one person misunderstood the policy.

    It’s NOT that DD does not ACCEPT pennies. It’s that DD wants to avoid giving out pennies as change in cash transactions. This policy would not affect anyone who paid with credit card or debit card or personal checks. You can even give them all the pennies in your change jar if you want.

    if someone REALLY wants their 1 or 2 cents back in change, they can request pennies and they will accommodate. But how many people are going to complain about receiving 1 or 2 cents more than they should?

    “Hey, I’m supposed to get two dollars and THREE cents in change, not two dollars and FIVE cents. I want three pennies, not a nickel!”

  23. oblivious87 says:

    I used to only give change in quarters when i used to wait tables. If the bill was $9.24, I’d give them $1 back, $9.49, $0.75 back… etc…

    Most of the time, that change was left in the book anyways so I wasn’t losing anything and it made my life easier only having to carry around $2-3 worth of quarters every night rather then a pound of change like some of the other servers did.

    Plus when we added some arcade games, parents loved the fact that they could send their kids away for 5 minutes while they finished up their drinks and my tip reflected it.

  24. LucasM says:

    Stats I found said that in 2006 it cost 1.4 pennies to mint and another 2 pennies to distribute each new penny. In that same year an estimated 9.6 billion of them were made. If I calculate that right, it means we lost $55,296,000.00 on that process… and again that was in 2006. If we want to start eliminating the national debt, maybe eliminating this useless coin would be a good place to start.