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Shopkick Cheats

May 13, 2012 4 comments

Shopkick enables customers to get great rewards practically for free. The only thing customers have to do is to walk into a store, scan a product, or make a credit card purchase. The rewards you can redeem are very desirable, ranging from gift cards to a luxury cruise. Unfortunately, whenever something is desirable, people tend to try to get it whatever it takes. Therefore, some users of shopkick came up with ways to cheat the app. They get kicks for walk-ins without actually walking into stores and they get kicks for scanning products without scanning the actual products. There are even websites supporting such fraudulent activities.

Users post here pictures of bar codes so that other users don’t have to go into a store in order to scan products. They even post recordings of the inaudible sound that is played at store entrances for recognizing walk-ins. Those websites are a real threat to the business model of shopkick. The idea behind shopkick is to draw customers into the stores and to point their attention to specific products. Scanning barcodes from a website and faking walk-ins from home does not encourage the behavior that shopkick and the partnering stores desire.

Shopkick seems to have noticed those activities. The large amount of users commenting on the app about their ban from the app are an indicator for this. However, banning users is not the best possible solution. It reduces the number of users and might even hurt users by mistake that do not try to cheat the app.

Therefore, shopkick has to find better ways to prevent that type of fraud. One way to handle the recording and replay of the walk in sound, might be to install sound emitting devices that dynamically play the sound signal, i.e. changing the played sound after a certain time. In order to counteract  the fraudulent barcode scanning from websites, shopkick could only allow scans after a customer has checked in to the store buy getting walk in kicks.

Whatever solution shopkick will find, it has to do something about the current situation. Otherwise, the value of the app for the stores will be diminished. That might lead to less desirable rewards, or more kicks required to redeem the rewards. This in turn might decrease the attractiveness of the app to users, leading to a break of the current popularity.

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