Starbucks Employees Are Cheating If They Are Foursquare Mayors

Reader Robert writes in to point out that according to Foursquare’s FAQ, any rogue Starbucks baristas that are mayors of their locations are cheaters.

For those of you who are confused, Foursquare is this thing you put on your phone. When you go somewhere, you “check in” and you get credit for being wherever you are. If you are the person who checks in the most at a location, you get to be the “Mayor.” Starbucks gives coupons for this honor, but some people are annoyed because the employees are always checking in (because they work there), and are sort of impossible to beat if you are just a customer.

From Foursquare:

What is a foursquare “mayor”?

Foursquare mayorships are awarded to your customers with the most days checked into your venue over the last 60 days. The mayor will always be visible on your foursquare venue page as well as on all the mobile clients (good for special verification/redemption). This title is up for grabs for customers that visit you often, but is not achievable by employees, owners, or manager. You can provide rewards to those crowned in the specials management section, once your venue has been claimed.

This doesn’t agree with the response that a Starbucks Gossip reader got from Starbucks. In it, the company claimed that Foursquare mayorhood was open to anyone.

So much drama for a coupon! Granted, it’s not a horrible coupon. We do not, however, blame Starbucks for not wanting to mess around with policing foursquare.

foursquare help [foursquare]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    The solution, then, seems to be to contact Foursquare and report the mayor of your Starbucks to them, hopefully removing them as mayor.

  2. Harmodios says:

    So imagine my surprise when I found out today that I am not the foursquare mayor for my wife.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      “This title is up for grabs for customers that visit you often, but is not achievable by employees, owners, or manager.”

      Depending on your culture, you might own your wife, so you are ineligible. In other cultures, you’re probably her employee.

      • Gramin says:

        OMG… need to clean the Mt. Dew off my monitor. “You’re probably her employee” was simply priceless.

        For the first time, +1MM.

    • TheMonkeyKing says:

      Maybe you’re the King? And we all know, it’s good to be the King.

    • Michael Bauser says:

      Yeah, and you should see the coupon she’s offering the mayor.

  3. friendlynerd says:

    I have my own definition of Foursquare mayor: person who has been blocked from all friends’ news feeds after constant stream of useless check-in information.

    • DarthCoven says:

      Those notifications are easily turned off. I’m mayor at quite a few of my regular retailers and not a thing goes onto my Twitter or Facebook feeds.

    • UltimateOutsider says:


    • aloria says:

      I only “announce” my foursquare checkins when I want a quick way to let people in the area know where I’m at– it’s much easier than trying to figure things out via a busload of text messages or phone calls. I’ll never understand the people who constantly advertise the fact that they are at work, the post office, the grocery store or something.

  4. FatLynn says:

    This is Foursquare’s problem, not Starbucks’

  5. AjariBonten says:

    OK, so there are people who worry about this stuff? Enough that it’s an issue? Good thing there isn’t anything important to worry about …………

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I’m guessing Foursquare cares if the money they are spending in rewards is being abused and completely destroys the purpose of the rewards which is to build a fan base.

      And I’m sure fans of fouraquare care that their rewards are being abused.

      I’m sorry, did you have anything to actually say?

    • Murph1908 says:

      There’s still badness in the world. How DARE they have fun!


  6. u1itn0w2day says:

    I don’t think this gimmick will work. If Starbucks keeps on using gimmicks like this they will not work.

  7. NarcolepticGirl says:

    i don’t understand foursquare aside from it probably being fun just to check in to different places (and maybe score discounts)

    Are you able to leave notes/reviews at checked-in location (like google buzz type of thing)?

    When people say they use it so “that everyone knows where I am and so I don’t have to call everyone to make plans”…
    Can’t you just multi text anyone you think might be interested in where you are? Or let people know ahead of time so they adjust their plans or have time to shower?

    If I see that a friend “checked in” at a burrito place 10 miles away – am I supposed to think that he’ll be there for another hour so I can go hang out with him? What if he doesn’t want to hang out with me?

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Also, wouldn’t you have to convince all your friends/family/business associates to use this app as well? i don’t think any of my friends in this state even know what an ‘app’ is

      • TheWillow says:

        dude, my grandparents know what Foursquare is- perhaps you need more tech savvy friends?

      • Michael Bauser says:

        You could have said the same thing about Facebook three years ago.

        Really, the “none of my friends use it, so it must be doomed” argument is one of the dumbest arguments one can make on the Internet.

    • DarthCoven says:

      “Are you able to leave notes/reviews at checked-in location (like google buzz type of thing)?”

      Actually, yes you can. You can also see who is already at the location you’ve checked into and how long ago they checked in. For example, at the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island, there were hundreds of others already checked in when I got there and I was able to browse profiles (until, of course, the mobile networks started hiccuping from the sheer mass amount of users)

      “Can’t you just multi text anyone you think might be interested in where you are?”

      If you’re not on an unlimited text plan, this can add up real quick. Keep in mind that a smartphone unlimited data plan does not mean unlimited texts.

      “i don’t think any of my friends in this state even know what an ‘app’ is”

      Just because your friends don’t keep up with modern technology, doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t have friends who do.

    • Michael Bauser says:

      If your’e both on Foursquare that means you and your friend both own cellphones. You can call him/her and ask if s/he is still there and if s/he wants some company. Sheesh.

    • Charlotte Rae's Web says:

      I don’t use Foursquare but a local version of it. I don’t see it as something you use to communicate directly (or indirectly) with people – it’s not that kind of a tool for me. I use it for coupons, giveaways, to find new places to try and convenience places nearby where I am.

  8. [MG]LooseCannon says:

    The solution here is to frequent your locally owned coffee shop, rather than a mega-chain coffee empire.

    • DarthCoven says:

      The issue is mayorships equate to coupons at the mega-chain. The local coffee shop may or may not offer these coupons to mayors. Also, what if there is no local shop in your area? A lot of suburbia is stuck with nothing but the chains.

  9. BuyerOfGoods3 says:

    Nice. I assume some people Pay for ‘foursquare’? Hence it being on ‘consumer’ist? Or is the Starbucks involvement newsworthy enough? Probably. I’ve never heard of it, and it would’ve died without me hearing about it if it weren’t for C’s article. :)

    • Jack T Ripper says:

      Consumers are involved, so that is why it is reported here. It doesn’t have to be for profit to have consumers. By definition they are just ‘consumers’ of products. In this case, coupons.

  10. Jack T Ripper says:

    The way I see it, Starbucks is giving out a coupon regardless of who earned it. It isn’t possible to restrict employees from earning it, so while unethical perhaps, an unenforceable rule is going to be broken. Starbucks still gives out the coupon and loses no additional money either way. I would wager that every location would have this problem if they have employees who compete with paying customers. Hell, I’d like to have something like that in my office so I could reward employees who come to work more often than those who call in sick twice a week.

    • Michael Bauser says:

      Except only person per store at a time can “earn” it, so the mayor offer is as much a contest as a coupon promotion. It’s pretty standard for businesses to ban their employees from entering contest meant for customers.

      Does anybody know if Starbucks employees are even allowed to use Starbucks coupons?

  11. narcs says:

    only americans would complain about this.

    • Jack T Ripper says:

      That’s not true. I know a lot of illegals who complain about it too. They don’t like it when people cut into their free stuff.

  12. sagodjur says:

    I’m pretty sure I go to my local Starbucks more often than any individual employee of the joint, save maybe the manager. They have days off. My addiction to expensive candy coffee doesn’t.

  13. 3rdUserName says:

    There cant be many baristas that do this if they do, it cant be for a coupon.. I know if I worked at a place like Starbucks I’d be drinking all the coffee and tea I wanted while I was there anyways so why would I care about a coupon to get more of it?

  14. Hitchcock says:

    Couldn’t you always just “fake” check-in? Its not like they can verify you’ve actually gone there. If you want to be a mayor bad enough, can’t you just constantly keep checking in until you’re number 1?

  15. Michael Bauser says:

    Right now, Foursquare is “hands off” with this issue. (They’re “hands off” with too many issues, if you ask me, but I digress.) They occassionally mutter something about making employees of a business ineligible to be mayor, but they never actually get around to it. Right now, they’ve got a half-implemented feature where business managers can identify which Foursquare users are employees, but very few businesses use it.

    As for whether this is cheating? I thiink “cheating” might be too strong a word, since the employees really are where they say they are when they’re checking in. I’d rather classify it as “poor sportsmanship,” because employees are checking in someplace they’re paid to be, while eveyrone else is checking into someplace they’re (effectively) paying to be at. It’s like signing up for a neighborhood softball league and finding out the opposite team “just happens to have” a few MLB players in their neighborhood. What’s the poinf of playing?

  16. El_Fez says:

    “Who am I? I’m tha mayor of the fookin’ block, now move your car!”

  17. kimmie says:

    I shouldn’t care, but I do find this annoying. Most of my mayorships have been taken away from me by people working at places as summer help. I do try not to spam my friends with 4sq checkins unless i specifically want to let them know where I am.

  18. areaman says:

    I make my own mayor at home.

  19. DanGarion says:

    But Foursquare isn’t all about businesses there are many non business related locations. Looks to me that Foursquare needs to fix their FAQ.

  20. Swag Valance says:

    Foursquare mayors? Why are we debating the issue of becoming King Turd of Doo-Doo Mountain?

  21. Swag Valance says:

    Foursquare mayors? Why are we debating the issue of becoming King Turd of Doo-Doo Mountain?

  22. Swag Valance says:

    Foursquare mayors? Why are we debating the issue of becoming King Turd of Doo-Doo Mountain?

  23. Swag Valance says:

    Foursquare mayors? Why are we debating the issue of becoming King Turd of Doo-Doo Mountain?