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New Jersey man wants his $4.54 back from his Dunk's gift card, so he sues for at least $5 million, as one does

A New Jersey man who says he wants the balance of the remaining value of his Dunkin' Donuts gift card has filed what he hopes will be a class-action suit against the coffee takeout giant because he claims the company won't give him his damn money.

Daniel Crooks, of Manchester, NH, says this is a violation of consumer-protection laws in several states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts. filed his suit in US District Court in Boston because Dunkin' Brands is headquartered in Canton and because "a substantial portion of the events that gave rise to this cause of action occurred here," although he does not specify whether that's because he made frequent stops at turnpike Dunk's on trips here, so many Massachusetts residents are Dunkaphilic or for some other reason.

Crooks said he bought a gift card for himself in March of last year and he was quite put out when he attempted to get repaid the remaining $4.54 on the card only to be rebuffed.

Defendants have been unjustly enriched in retaining the revenues derived from Plaintiff’s and Class members’ Gift Card balance remainders. Retention of those moneys under these circumstances is unjust and inequitable because Defendants did not disclose that their Gift Card balances were non-refundable despite the explicit terms stating that the balances were refundable under certain conditions.

Crooks is represented by two law firms, one a New York firm that claims to have represented fully half of all Americans in various class-action suits.

Free tagging: 
PDF icon Complete complaint254.24 KB

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While 5 million seems excessive, I sympathize with his struggle. I've gotten some of those egift cards from class action lawsuits and there's basically no way to spend it all because the total cost must not exceed the balance.

So unless I find something that's exactly the right price I have to leave money on the card. There should be a cash out option once you're under a certain balance, so that the company doesn't get to keep all the leftover funds.


I had a Mastercard from a lawsuit with a balance of like $18.79. As you say, you could not buy a $20 item and pay the rest with another card. Leaving money on the table was going to kill me. Instead I used the card to buy an Amazon gift card for exactly $18.79 (you can do that!) I added that Amazon balance to my account and I can buy whatever I want (on Amazon) with that money.


There are many places that can use "the rest of a gift card" on your total and then have you pay the remaining balance with another means. I've used up many a gift card in that way all over the place. I bet Dunks can even do that. It's not material to his case/complaint, but I have found it rare that places these days won't take partial payment for your balance on multiple forms of payment.

Also, I found this on the MA gift card law tip website:

Dunkin Donuts: Terms and conditions are governed by Maine laws. Dunkin Donuts has no fees or expiration date associated with its gift cards.


It's possible his lawyers didn't do fuck all for leg work on this case. Fortunately for them it appears Maine also has a refund law similar to MAs, so I foresee an amended complaint in the future...


Such a good tip, thank you!

or transfer its balance to another DD card that you already have. There's no reason that you can't spend the entire thing down if you want to.

In any event, he should be able to exhaust most if not all of the $4.54 by buying two coffees.

Also, I have in the past bought something at DD with an insufficient balance on a card, and paid the rest with cash.


The legal theory in this lawsuit is based on this Mass law that explicitly says if a gift card is worth less than $5, you're entitled to cash it out.

Whenever I get a prepaid MasterCard with $8.00 or whatever on it, I immediately use it to pay a utility bill and then toss it out.

The most annoying gift card I am in possession of is a lousy BP gift card that has a balance of 27 cents. The pumps won't take it, there seems to be no way to redeem it at the counter inside the station for a piece of gum, and customer service hasn't been helpful.


is another good way to quickly use up a generic gift card (not a merchant-specific one like DD)

Nowhere in the complaint does it say he actually tried to get the card redeemed as cash in either NJ or MA and was rebuffed. It only states that the rules on the card say he can't have cash in opposition to the state laws that say he can when the stored value is below $5 after a purchase is made with the card.

I've not tried to cash out the last few bucks on a Dunks card (I just put them into my stored value on my standing balance and use it as I use it). I wonder if he even asked to get his cash back and would have been provided it at any MA location (in accordance with the law).

Nowhere in the complaint does it say he actually tried to get the card redeemed as cash in either NJ or MA and was rebuffed. It only states that the rules on the card say he can't have cash in opposition to the state laws that say he can when the stored value is below $5 after a purchase is made with the card.

Wouldn’t you count them telling him in writing that he can’t have the cash as him having been rebuffed? I would.

I hope he wins. All these companies have their scams.


Who let it go this far? He’s obviously wrong. That’s how gift cards work.
But it’s shocking a manager at Dunks didn’t just give him $5 to get rid of the guy.

How gift cards work is regulated by law. Why are you siding with a company that appears to have broken the law against the individual whom the company appears to have wronged?

...to get its app together. If you've earned free drinks and try to order via the mobile app, you have to have enough money pre-loaded on to your card to cover the order. So you wind up having to give them more money to get your free drink. Which seems pretty scammy to me.

[Edited to add: Problem Solved! See below.]

They’ve actually updated their app in recent months so that this isn’t the case anymore. You just have to scroll down and apply the free drink coupon on the total screen before placing the order.

I've redeemed free drinks online with no balance, or a minimal balance like 50 cents, and the order has gone through.

I gave up trying a while ago and just add more money, but maybe they've fixed it since. I will have to try again next time my balance is low.

I don't see any way to order anything on their website.

Not sure if they fixed something on the app or I was doing something wrong the whole time, but it looks like it would work. Thanks for the info. Once again, the Universal Hub hive comes through!

No, this is an update. I've been using the app for years and when I first started using it, this was my frustration. I had to have a balance to cover the free drink in order to use it, I wouldn't lose my $ but the cost had to be covered (you just were never charged)

That changed over the past 2 years. Now you can do free items without having the right balance.

And good on Dunkin' for fixing that annoyance!

Starbucks is one of the largest banking institutions in the USA based on it girt card balances.


I don’t know how many unused or partially used gift cards I have in my junk drawer that I’ve received as gifts because somehow people think they are giving you a wonderful thoughtful gift instead of being crass and just handing you cash.
I’d much rather have the cash.
Or have a thoughtful donation made in my name.

I will buy a Springsteen CD at Goodwill and give it to the plaintiff. Guys from Jersey can't get enough of that crap. It should easily be available at Goodwill for under $5, if not on Amazon.

The MBTA does the same thing. You can’t get the remaining money from your unused paper ticket and you can’t make a partial payment on the T. So if you have les than a full fare on your paper ticket you can’t use it. It adds up.

When a large corporation perpetrates a minor scam that hits thousands and thousands of individuals for a little bit of money, perhaps on the cynical theory that “we can make millions on the seigniorage and no one individual is going to go to the bother of going after us to get $4.00 back”, it always astounds me that people stand up to defend the corporation and mock the guy who decided to do the actual work of making a case.

Personally, I love these kind of cases where a big national bank or the phone company ends up paying out millions, all because some persistent SOB stood firm and demanded they repay some eighteen cent overcharge. I hope the guy and his lawyers make good coin: we the public are getting a good deal here: we’re getting the law enforced, a misbehaving company punished, and it doesn’t cost the taxpayer a cent.