A Dunkin' Donuts Store Exhibits Penny Sanity

One Dunkin’ Donuts store is taking a stand against the penny. A sign at the store reads “We will be rounding your change to the closest nickel. For example, if your change is $2.03, we will give you $2.05. If your change is $2.22, you will receive $2.20. For any customer who still would like their pennies, please just ask the cashier and we would be happy to accommodate you.” The change is designed to speed up service. Here’s hoping the initiative goes viral. (HT: David McCall and Meir Lindenbaum) [%comments]

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  1. msollot says:

    “For any customer who still would like their pennies, please just ask the cashier and we would be happy to accommodate you.”

    First, in principle, I like the idea of rounding to the nearest nickle.

    Second the Dunkin’ Donuts’ store revenue will increase. I think there are a lot of people who don’t like dealing with pennies nowadays.

    The question is, if the ’rounding’ is not in the customer’s favor, how many would ask for the 1 or 2 pennies? I think this would be an interesting behavioral economic experiment. My guess is that if the person was alone and/or no one else in the store, more people would ask for the pennies. If the person was with other people, fewer would ask.

    Maybe you should study this and include in ‘Superduperfreakeonomics’?

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  2. Ian Kemmish says:

    Wouldn’t a more “nudgy” solution be a sign that says, “unless otherwise instructed, we donate every penny in your change to charity”?

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  3. Ray says:

    @Paul, you CAN do it if you set the prices to fractions of pennies. Then you can avoid the rounding issue. Now the only problem is floating point arithmetic.

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  4. Paul says:

    Did no one notice that the store isn’t rounding the prices up, its rounding your change up. This is always to the benefit of the customer.

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  5. I wonder says:

    If the goal were to maximize the financial transaction (and not coin management), then two-fifths of customers would be asking for pennies. This would seriously slow down service, as you add another transaction: “That’s $2.20 in change,” “I’d like the pennies”, “Here’s your pennies”.

    A quicker solution might be a sign next to a small dish of pennies, saying “We round down, but if you want the one or two pennies, you can take them yourself.”

    The costs to the customer in the current system are high: To request the pennies, you have to put your pride in your pocket and communicate to another human that you really do care enough about such a tiny amount of purchasing power as to make them depart from the usual script. I’ll bet that some customers are irritated (especially if they order the same thing each day, and it rounds unfavorably), but are unwilling to pay the social costs involved in “begging” for what is theirs.

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  6. I wonder says:

    I wonder whether penny acceptance varies by gender. The common hassle-oriented complaint is about “pennies in my pocket” — and very few women carry any money at all in their pockets (assuming their clothes have any pockets in the first place; see also gender discrimination, paternalistic fashion design that deems women too decorative or too dependent to need a functional place for keys or money, etc.).

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  7. Eric M. Jones says:

    In Oregon, I once got a fill-up of gas. The pump said $20.80. The attendant said, “$20 is fine”.

    So they rounded down to the nearest dollar. Cool. Works for me.

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  8. Whataburger Fan says:

    I know the Whataburger restaurant nearest to my parents house does what was suggested above (fiddling with the before tax price to make the taxed price even dollar amounts). Since I often pay with my debit card, sometimes it’s frustrating to know the hamburger is costing me 10 cents more, but when I pay cash, the convenience is nice, I’ll admit.

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