How Foursquare improves on coupons

By Felix Salmon
March 10, 2011
Dan Frommer, is that it's completely invisible to your server and to your guests.

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There is nothing shameful or embarrassing about saving money, and restaurants wouldn’t pay Groupon lots of money for the privilege of using its service if they didn’t want lots of people to come in and claim a discount. But still, it’s undeniable: there’s a faint whiff of cheap associated with any coupon, to the point at which some restaurants are implementing built-in gratuities to try to stop people from tipping on the discounted amount. And I have friends who are adamant that they’ll never use a groupon or anything like it, for fear of the perceived stigma involved.

Enter Foursquare. The thing I like most about the Foursquare partnership with Amex, as explained by Dan Frommer, is that it’s completely invisible to your server and to your guests — in that respect it’s a bit like iDine, only even easier.

The obvious partner here, of course, is not Amex so much as Groupon itself. You buy your groupon online, and you don’t even need to print it out — the next time you check in to the merchant and pay the full amount for your meal or other service, you automagically find the amount of the refund on your credit card statement.

Technically, this whole system could probably work fine even without Foursquare’s cooperation: so long as you add Groupon as a friend on Foursquare, it’ll be able to see your checkin and take care of the rest of the process itself. But it’s always nice to see a little button come up on Foursquare saying you’ve activated a deal.

Between this and the other new features that Foursquare just announced in time for SXSW, I’m beginning to see how Foursquare could become the vital hyperlocal app. Now we just need them to change the search-results display, so that it shows results in order of distance rather than in order of popularity. That annoys me every time.

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