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Dunkin' Donuts Rant: Receipt Guarantee at Issue

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on June 14, 2013 9:15 AM

A customer's Dunkin' Donuts rant over the store's "receipt guarantee" has gone viral, and raises the question of whether such policies are worth the trouble.

If you haven't already seen it, check out how Taylor Chapman goes (do)nuts trying to take advantage of the franchisee's policy of giving customers their orders for free if they don't get a receipt at the time of purchase.

Business owners often implement receipt guarantees as a mechanism to prevent cashiers from skimming cash at the register. But it may also embolden conniving customers like 27-year-old Chapman.

Here are a few tips on how business owners can offer a "receipt guarantee" while guaranteeing they won't be taken advantage of by customers:

  • Make it valid only during the same visit, when the receipt is supposed to be given. Customers can take advantage of the guarantee if there's no language specifying time limits. In theory, they could then waltz in a week later and demand follow-through on the guarantee. Even if you can call their bluff, it ends up making your business look ill-managed. Have the rule clearly written so that customers can't come back the next day to claim it, like Chapman did in her Dunkin' Donuts rant.
  • Resolve the issue immediately. A protracted conflict over a receipt guarantee will do more harm than good. Don't let the issue carry over into another day and don't lie -- that's misrepresentation. The longer the delay, the more easy it will be for troublesome customers to poke holes in your policy and take advantage of it. If they end up not getting what they want after all that delay, you may have to deal with a disgruntled customer.
  • Put the policy in writing and post it near the cash register. It's always necessary to have special deals and policies in writing and placed in a very visible location. The more detail, the better. Mom and pop stores might not love fine print, but when you make broad promises without carve-outs, you make yourself vulnerable to getting taken advantage of by customers.
  • Just don't do it -- it could be more trouble than it's worth. Using the customer as the cop isn't a great policy because you might end up losing from both sides and have to deal with both dishonest customers and employees. When customers catch on to the motive behind the rule, they might be turned off by the lack of loyalty between the management and staff. Instead...
  • Find better alternatives. Better employee training and bookkeeping practices might make a more effective alternative to a receipt guarantee. With a receipt guarantee, you're banking on customers to help enforce the rule, and not abuse it. A thorough inventory and accounting system, on the other hand, cuts the middle man out. Another option is to focus your efforts on creating a work atmosphere with sufficient rewards and benefits that will disincentivize employees from shaving off bucks at the register.

From crafting a receipt guarantee policy to drafting a better employee handbook, if you find yourself in need of extra legal assistance, it might be helpful to speak to an experienced business lawyer in your area.

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