Startup

Startup: A Social Experiment With Coffee

This may be old news to some, but I hadn’t stumbled across it until recently. With the proliferation of smart phones, many printed vouchers (gift cards, airline boarding passes, etc) have been replaced with images of bar codes or QR codes you can display on your smart phone for a scanner. Jonathan Stark, of Rhode Island, decided to try an experiment with his Starbucks card. He put $30 on it, then published the QR image on his web site. Need a coffee? Have one on him. Feeling generous? Buy a stranger a coffee by putting money on the card. Even Starbucks corporate thought it was a neat idea and was following the story with interest. It worked, too. Thousands of dollars were run through the card before it was revealed that Sam Odio had found a way to “skim” small amounts off the card and transfer them over to his own account. While he claims he planned to auction this loaded card (value: $645) on eBay to raise money for charity, Starbucks has decided to close Jonathan’s public experiment down. So except for one moron ruining it, the experiment looks like it was a success. The goal? Restoring a few people’s faith in humanity.

  • And instead proved that scum will find a way to steal no matter how altruistic the situation.

    Also, I just installed the Starbucks app on my phone and it rocks.

    • OA5599

      Sure, Starbucks charges four bucks for a cup of coffee, but I wouldn't call that stealing.

      • dmilligan

        Not after drinking mine, you won't.

  • skitter

    On re-reading, I just wanted to emphasize, for those of us with minuscule attention spans, that it was some other asshole skimming money, not the original guy.

    Faith in humanity: No net change.

    • dmilligan

      Thank you, I somehow missed that. When I hear stories like that, I always wonder about the ones that don't get caught, the ones who are clever enough to get away with it and no one is the wiser. How many of those are there? Will we ever know? Yes, something to think about when nodding off to sleep.

      • skitter

        The ones that keep me up at night:
        Are you that evil, or that stupid that you don't see the ethical problem with what you're doing?
        And which would I rather deal with?

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          The most recent case of is this guy more stupid, evil, or desperate for me: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/02/t

          • skitter

            Wow. Faith in humanity: -1.

            Edit: And he's evil, but does he know he's evil?

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            I think that's the first time I've ever read you write something negative about someone! That that about says it all about him doesn't it? Here he is trying to come off as reformed, but I'm not convinced, start reading at "But I also support the ideal of Western information dominance as a means of protecting our freedoms": https://threatpost.com/en_us/blogs/aaron-barrs-de

          • skitter

            Given an appropriate forum for political/philosophical discussion, I'd kick a few cars out of his train of thought. In my opinion, he contradicts himself several times. My question stands; I'm not sure if he would understand where I disagree with him.

  • TechieInHell

    Well other than the idiot who was skimming from the card, many people were impressed by how many would actually put money onto the card to keep it going.

  • Deartháir

    So, somebody go get a Starbucks QR Code, and let's try it out! The only cards I've ever seen are magnetic stripe cards, so someone will need to get the card with a QR code, but I would like to see if it will work. I'd keep it going.

    Get me a QR Code, I'll publish it here on Toasters, and let's see if we can keep it going.

    • TechieInHell

      I like it, except for two problems:
      1) There is no Starbucks around here
      2) Their coffee sucks anyway

      • Deartháir

        Around here, there's one on every goddamned street corner. They're like prostitutes, but at least prostitutes don't taste like they've been burned and ground up by a poorly-trained teenager.

        Well… they don't taste like that yet.

      • OA5599

        How deep in the boonies do you live in that Starbucks hasn't dared to infest? I'm used to seeing several at the same intersection.
        http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi

        • Deartháir

          Techie is in the advantageous position that Starbucks would actually have a hard time gaining a solid foothold in his neck of the woods. There are coffee shops on virtually every corner, brewing really good coffee in small boutiques. (Well, they used to brew really good coffee… now they're relying on this mediocre coffee from Calgary… but it's still better than Starbucks.)

      • How about a Tim Horton's card then? I love me some Tim Bits. Given the high population of Canukistanis on the Toaster, this might work.

        Maybe not for as frequently as I'd like since I only get to Canada a couple times a year for out of town curling events.

        • Deartháir

          Hm. I wonder if Timmy's even has the ability to QR Code.

    • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

      Actually I have a cooler idea. Remember Hooniversal Ninja Slaus or whoever? Let's do it with coffee! Everybody sends their favorite to someone else.

      • Deartháir

        Do you remember how smoothly HNC went? I think there are some people who still don't have their presents. If someone wants to set that up, by all means. I'm staying way the hell out of any attempts to organize it! Haha

        • Us Toasterites are way less* slacktivist than those Hoons.

          *Considering how slacktivist those Hoons are, my ambiguous "way less" qualifier is virtually meaningless.

          • Deartháir

            That's rather like saying "somewhat drier than the ocean"…

        • I received mine; it was pretty darned nifty. Still don't know whether the one I sent was received, however.

          Count me out on any sort of coffee-of-the-month-club deal. I think I may perhaps have consumed a cumulative total of one cup of that stuff in my entire life, despite going to grad school in Seattle. I prefer tea.

          • Deartháir

            HEATHEN!

            I still think skitter won the Hooniversal Ninja Claus game. He sent CaffeineFuelled a parcel full of MINI stuff that was absolutely perfect. Including a MINI t-shirt that fit her perfectly.

            Did I mention she drives a Cooper S? I'm not sure if he even knew that.

          • skitter

            I was actually wondering the other day if she got that.
            I worried I screwed up the customs stuff and you would have to pay for it.
            I almost sent tools, then remembered, so I had to go deep into the comment history.
            I'm so glad she liked it.

          • And all skitter got from me was…crap…I don't even remember what I sent skitter.

            I do remember ordering a hat that apparently never showed up. I'll do better next year.

          • skitter

            The gloves lived short, exciting lives, with a hand in many projects.

          • Deartháir

            Liked it? Loved it is more like it. We were both absolutely gobsmacked. You done awesome, don't think you could have done better if you tried.

          • tonyola

            I'm not a big coffee drinker either. I like one cup first thing in the morning for a kick-start, and that's it. If I have even a Coke after 3PM, I'll be up half the night. I'm such a Philistine about coffee that I'm content to boil a cup of water and toss in some instant coffee. Pay $4.00 for a cup? Fugetaboudit.

          • dmilligan

            Oooh, aren't we bourgeois. Pardon me while I play the grand piano and sip my tea…

          • Sip? I didn't say sip.

            <img src="http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6206/6057168748_e3e5288f0d_b.jpg&quot; width="450">

            This cup used to be the same color inside and out; that's now a photo of it empty. My hope is that eventually all I'll need to do is add more hot water whenever I want more tea.

          • OA5599

            You bleached the outside of the cup?

            How did you leave the stripes? I would have guessed a rubber band, but it looks like one passes through the handle.

          • You caught me. The stripes stop at the handle.

            Hmmm, no, wait, that wouldn't help….

          • dmilligan

            Wow, I'm impressed. That's even filthier than the cups used by the dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking mechanics that I used to work with. That's what you call a "well-seasoned" tea cup/mug.
            I have several Japanese tetsubins that I brew tea in (gasp!) and the proper way to maintain them is, after the initial wash when you first buy them, the insides are never washed again, just rinsed. That's how their pots are seasoned so they mellow with age. But you already knew that, right?

          • "…even filthier than the cups used by the dirty, rotten, filthy, stinking mechanics…."

            I'm a geologist.

            [Also, yes, I knew about the traditional avoidance of washing, but my personal motivation is sloth.]

          • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

            I've a Korean pot, may be similar. One time my mother in law washed-out the inside and told me it was, "quite difficult." I wanted to cry.

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          Yeah didn't think about that, there are always some rotten apples aren't there. But mine was great, though I think my youngest son thinks Jo Schmo the ninja santa is a real Christmas tradition now.

      • SSurfer321

        I'd rather not be investigated for drug trafficking.

        • Deartháir

          …again.

          • SSurfer321

            I was acquitted by hung jury due to improper handling of the evidence by the local police department
            ummm, whatever are you referring to?

        • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

          Ha, I guess we better not then, or if we do, we might as well send kinder eggs as well, since we are already in for it! During the '80s we sent packages to family in Poland. Sometimes the coffee would be stolen, but that's about it.

    • dmilligan

      Am I going to have buy one of those bloody toy phones just to be able to read bar codes now? Bollocks.

  • Looks like you need a cup of my famous java…

    <img src="http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lod7if8MFD1qe0eclo1_r7_500.gif&quot; width="300">

    from http://iwdrm.tumblr.com/ check out their other cool movie gifs

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