Butter or margarine? For one Massachusetts customer of Dunkin' Donuts, the answer was important enough to sue 23 stores and reach a deal ensuring they provide butter to customers who ask and provide them with vouchers for free baked goods.
Jan Polanik was "shocked" to discover that, despite paying 25 cents for butter to use on his baked goods he received margarine or another type of butter substitute instead, according to a pair of class actions he filed in state court. He sued the owners of 23 Dunkin' Donuts stores in Massachusetts under the state consumer protection law, asserting that he and other customers were deceived because they were not notified that they were receiving margarine instead of butter between June 2012 and June 2016.
The defendants agreed to settle actions and provide a total of 1,400 vouchers that can be used for the purchase of up to three baked goods (defined as "bagels, muffins, or other baked goods offered") at the store. Notice will be posted at the relevant Dunkin' Donuts stores—both at the cash register and the drive-through window—and vouchers that have not been claimed 60 days after final approval of the deal will be donated to a homeless shelter or food bank.
Polanik will receive $500 as class representative, with $90,000 slated for his attorneys.
Further, the defendants will provide butter to those customers who request it for a one-year period. When the year ends, the defendants may offer butter substitutes as long as the store menu and notice boards indicate that a substitute is being offered.
Why it matters: Polanik's lawyer acknowledged that the dollar amount at issue was minimal, but told The New York Times that his client "really just prefers butter for a number of reasons" and wanted the practice of substitution without notification changed. "It's the basic principle that if something is misrepresented to you, it should be corrected," he said. "The main thrust of the case, really, is to get the stores, and hopefully Dunkin' Donuts generally, to change that practice and not deceive people."