Gas pump with dollarsEnlarge Photo
Gas prices in the U.S. hit the $4 mark earlier this week, and Murphy USA is hoping to ease the burden on drivers by offering discounts on Foursquare. Judging from comments on Facebook and Twitter, though, we're not so sure that customers are pleased.
The offer was announced yesterday on Murphy's Facebook page and Twitter feed, and it works like this: use Foursquare to check in at any Murphy USA gas station (typically found on the parking lots of Walmart and Sam's Club stores), and they'll shave $2 off the price of your gas purchase if it's $20 or more. Rumor has it that the check-in will earn you a free pack of Stride gum, too.
Of course, $2 may not sound like much, but think of it this way: buy ten gallons of gas at $4 a pop, and you'll spend $40. Shave $2 off that, and your per-gallon cost effectively drops to $3.80. Much better, no?
As nice as that sounds, though, a number of Murphy's Twitter followers have complained that some stores aren't honoring the deal. And quite a few of the company's Facebook fans are upset because they don't have smartphones or they think it's a scam or "what's the foursquare"? Which leads us to wonder: is this campaign already in the tank?
Probably not. In a promotion like this -- one dependent on a fairly tech-savvy consumer who owns the requisite hardware -- there are bound to be a few bumps along the road. Murphy's PR team is on fire when it comes to customer responses, and its Twitter squad seems especially aggressive at answering questions and assuaging concerns. From where we sit, Murphy USA is showing a lot of chutzpah with this campaign, and we fully expect to see the company's competitors roll out similar deals if and when gas prices rise further.
We should point out that the promotion is a nice win for Foursquare, too, and it shows off the versatility of the software. Facebook Deals, which is tied to specific locales, would have problems handing this sort of promotion, as would many other geolocation apps. Looks like a win all around.