Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

Summary: Enjoy some free Starbucks coffee karma by buying a drink with Jonathan Stark's Starbuck Card on your phone.

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After today's global stock market meltdown over the United States' recent credit downgrade and European debt worries, you're probably in need of a cup of joe to calm your nerves but don't really have the budget for a Starbucks? No problem. The generous programmer and writer Jonathan Stark just decided to share his preloaded Starbucks card with you.

All you have to do is download the above image of his Starbucks Card to your phone and pay for your drink by scanning the barcode at any location within America (including the kiosks in Target), assuming there is any money left on the card, of course. You can get up-to-minute updates on its balance by following Stark's Twitter feed and Facebook page. Unfortunately, Starbucks fans in Australia or the Cayman Islands will not be able to use this card; Canadians can give the card a try but it's not guaranteed to work.

Still waiting for the catch? There really isn't any. Stark only asks that people who use his card to get their Starbucks fix to tweet what they bought or take a photo of the store, drink or receipt. Hopefully the good Samaritans out there will top up the card to keep this experiment going. Earlier today there was $180 US on the card and the balance has dropped to zero a couple of times, but people have been refilling the card throughout the day according to its Twitter feed.

Stark insists he is not affiliated with Starbucks in any way but wants to apply the "take a penny, leave a penny," trust-based practice to digital currency like a Starbucks dollars and social media. In fact, the idea of enjoying a pre-paid coffee from strangers is an old Italian tradition (Caffe Pagato).

While it's tempting to enjoy free drinks on some unknown stranger's dime, I suspect the social element will deter some people from abusing the privilege; after all, tweeting about your free drink would tie your freebie to your online identity. Of course people can use the card without revealing their identity as the feed currently does not link users' Twitter account to the amount spent.  Or will this feel-good experiment just implode due to the inherent greed of netizens? Make your predictions in the comments below. Let us know if you were able to use Jonathan's Starbucks card at all.

[Source: TechCrunch, JonathanStark.com]

Topics: Banking, Enterprise Software

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19 comments
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  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    Interesting, I would try it but I don't know if I would have the time before the card does go empty.

    Honestly, I think it will get refilled quite a bit but don't know if it will go on more than a week.
    slickjim
  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    It is well known that the majority of the wealthy are wealthy still, in part, by the lack of ambient generosity. This very interesting experiment falls under the umbra of ambient generosity. Those that can afford it less will be paying for the anonymous drinks of those that can afford it more, on the average. In the end, it would be better to be less anonymous about such things. Whether this works or not, and for how long, will be interesting to see.
    mps1773
    • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

      @mps1773 "well known...lack of ambient generosity."

      Not well known to me, buddy. Thanks for the insult, tho.

      "ambient generosity" - interestingly phrased.
      mcwong1
  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    I'm sure it will last for a few hours, then return to zero at some point; but be filled again by a few generous people.
    mclairmont
    • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

      @mclairmont

      Following the twitter feed, it's going up and down a LOT faster than I originally expected. Looks like its been working so far....
      mclairmont
  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    And if you happen to be a Canuck ? Hello ! There are computers up here as well, Spencer
    pjsvalli
    • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

      @pjsvalli@... I think she said that it might work in Canada too - its probably the currency thing more than the computer thing keeping it from working in other countries.
      awkward hug
  • Smart!

    An interesting idea. One fact omitted from the story: every time it's used, Jonathan gets Starbucks rewards points. And if people keep refilling it when it gets low, he could get free coffee indefinitely.
    PepperdotNet
    • stupid forum software

      Why does editing my post result in "This message has been reported as spam" ?
      PepperdotNet
      • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

        @Pepper.dot.Net Wow I didn't think of that either! Jonathan you cheeky bastard!

        Also, I get that same error message when I try to edit my posts too! What's going on here?
        awkward hug
    • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

      @Pepper.dot.Net

      Good point! I've never owned a starbucks card before so I didnt know of this feature.
      mclairmont
  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    Fascinating. Will people be interested in racking up points on my Subway card for me, too?
    Joking aside, this is a pretty interesting "experiment" and I hope the author will publish detailed results for us to read!
    jmwells21
  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    i think it's cool! no matter if he wants free points or not! the thought is still there!
    let's not downplay that!
    i've watched it some today. people have good hearts...well, at least some!!! LOL
    HBCASurfer
  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    So far more than $6,500 has been funneled to Starbucks through this card. Interesting "experiment."<br><br>The usage summary is here:<br><a href="http://jonathanstark.com/card/api/summary" target="_blank">http://jonathanstark.com/card/api/summary</a>
    ShuaiJan
  • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

    Starbucks has been alerted to this, and they are saying that they will be putting a stop to it. Jonathan is indeed racking up beaucoup rewards points, and since the free drinks he's getting through this activity are in the form of non-transferable certificates mailed to his home address (and not just more credits added to the card), he is benefiting greatly from this little "social experiment." The percentage of good to bad people is not as favorable as is being reported. A great many people are parking themselves at Starbucks, monitoring the Twitter feed, then going up to the counter and moving much of the accumulated balance off to their own cards. This is a failed experiment which is in violation of the Starbucks Card Terms & Conditions, and it will end soon.
    skygeex
    • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

      @skygeex Why would Starbucks want to end this experiment? So far they have moved more than $7100 in product.
      ShuaiJan
      • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

        @ShuaiJan Yeah, I don't see anything online about starbucks stopping this.
        awkward hug
    • RE: Get a free Starbucks drink on Jonathan, share in a social payment experiment

      @skygeex Why would they stop a promotion that they probably invented. Look at the press coverage, the connection between Stark and his employer Mobiquity Inc. (who develops applications and marketing programs for Starbucks), the negligible cost of having thousands of potential consumers visit a Starbucks store and pattern a behavior of use for their electronic payment system. It all looks like a marketer's dream... at least to me.
      ahetzel
  • Not Any More

    According to his Twitter feed, Starbucks shut off the barcode at 12 PM last Friday.
    DT2