Worth Checking Out This Checking In

, , , , , | Working | May 30, 2018

(Our particular chain of gas stations developed an app that, in addition to sending you discounts for certain items, allows you to “check in” whenever you are at one of their locations. After a certain number of “check-ins,” you get a code for $2 off a purchase of gas. It works via the GPS on your phone, so you don’t have to actually be AT the store to check in just nearby. Furthermore, while you can only use one discount per transaction, there is no limit to the number of discounted purchases you can make in a day, and no minimum purchase required. We have one customer who is some sort of delivery driver, just driving around all day. He comes in several times a day and asks for $2 in gas, presents his $2 discount code, and drives off with free gas. I ask him about it; he isn’t doing anything technically wrong, but I am curious. He says as he drives around, any time he passes one of our stores, he hits the check-in button, and racks up the $2 discount codes. When he has time to stop, he gets another free $2 worth of gas. This gets me thinking. I live pretty close to another of our stores. I discover I can “check in” from my living room. So, sitting at home at night, watching TV, I check in every 30 minutes or so. Next day, I stop and ask for $2 in gas, pump it, then go back in and ask for another $2, repeat, repeat… As long as they are separate transactions, I’m not breaking any rules. I admit, I am taking advantage of the poor design of the app; somebody didn’t think it through very well. One day I go into work and the manager approaches me.)

Manager: “Are you the one who’s been abusing the app?”

Me: “I’m not abusing it; I’m using the discounts it’s offering me.”

Manager: “Well, you’re not supposed to do that.”

Me: “Why not? The rules, restrictions, and limitations are clearly stated in the user agreement. I’m not violating a single one.”

Manager: “That’s just not how it’s supposed to work.”

Me: “Then the problem is with your app, not your customers.”

(It didn’t take long for the app to be changed to limit the number of discounts and frequency of use… and ultimately they scrapped the whole thing altogether. But at one point, I did go an entire month without paying for gas.)

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