Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Foursquare Special

Many predicted that the introduction of Facebook places would be the death knell for Foursquare, but the network is still going strong.

With 20 million users worldwide (although probably only a portion active), Foursquare is a popular geo-social  network, and brands look to make the most of this. When the network first became popular 'specials' were quite common. These offers were created and managed by brands and venue owners to try and attract custom, and were free to the promoter.

I have seen less of these offers in the last year or so - perhaps indicating that they weren't particularly effective in terms of RI - however this collaboration between Amex and EAT caught my eye.

Check in to Eat, pay £5 and you get £5 credit! Sounds good doesn't it?

Unfortunately I think it's another case of 'no such thing as a free lunch'. I think the offer is a bad idea, for both brand and customer, for two main reasons:

User Experience: The process requires you to 'synch' your Amex card. Forms (which will probably be filled in on a smartphone due to the nature of Foursquare meaning you are on the go), and handing over credit card details. Everyone knows this is a big turn off for the online customer, and will likely put off the majority of punters.

The process was also pretty clunky, having to synch, then check in to EAT, then use your amex to pay in EAT, then click load or something (I had lost interest by this point).

Proposition: Let's think about what the customer is actually doing here, and also take a look at the small print. You are paying for your lunch with a credit card. I personally don't usually do this. I will get out cash or pay with a debit card, but to me credit is something to be used in emergencies, or when I need protection guaranteed for a large online purchase. The small print says 'credit is usually issued 3-5 business days, may take up to two billing periods'.

So let's get this straight. We owe Amex £5 for up to 2 months, before our balance is restored. If just 1%  of Foursquare users took up this offer, that would be a credit card debt of £1,000,000. Perhaps I'm being too cautious about this, but considering how we got into the current economic climate should we really be encouraging the 'stick it on the credit card' culture? Why not just pay with a fiver from the cashpoint? I think Amex and EAT got this one wrong to be honest...

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