Courtesy of Tony Montini

A glitch in the Pocket Points app last week allowed students to accrue thousands of points that they could cash in for free or discounted food on campus. Many campus eateries experienced shortages. According to the University there is likely to be changes to the offerings over the next few days.

September 20, 2018

Pocket Points Deals Expected to Shift Over Next Few Days

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The redeemable food discounts on the app “Pocket Points” are set to change over the course of the next few days.

“Students will notice over time that the rewards will change, and will continue to change throughout the life of the program. In addition, redemption periods for specific offers will expand and contract,” said Karen E. Brown, director of Campus Life Marketing & Communications.

The University and Cornell Dining are disagreeing on the ultimate direction of the app with members of certain Cornell campus eateries saying deals will no longer be honored after Friday Sept. 21, despite the University assuring users it intends to continue the program.

Pocket Points, first released in fall 2014, was created by Mitch Gardner and Rob Richardson. Within the first year of its release, the app was downloaded more than 200,000 times at more than 100 universities and colleges across the U.S., according to USA Today.

The app is designed to be easy to use. Individuals just have to open the app and lock their phone, and points automatically accumulate. People can earn more points if there are multiple individuals nearby also using Pocket Points.

Users found a glitch in the app’s free points system last week. Individuals are given a unique code their friends enter when they join the app to give the user 10 free points. However, the glitch allowed people to enter their friends’ codes an infinite amount of times.

Students were quick to exploit the glitch, allowing them to earn thousands of free points in minutes. Armed with these points, students flooded campus eateries trying to cash in on the discounted or even free meals. Some even went out of their way to get in on the deals.

“I never used to eat lunch before but now I’ll quickly stop and either get 20% off a meal somewhere or get a free meal entirely,” Megan Hollister ’20 told The Sun. “I use the app to get free food and save money.”

The result was that many places quickly ran out of popular food options that were discounted on the app, such as smoothies at Jansen’s Market, the Blended Burger at the Ivy Room and the cubano sandwich at Big Red Barn.

It is currently unclear how much money, if any, the University has lost.

“We’re currently analyzing redemption rates … Bus Stop Bagels customers redeemed just over 100 Route 81 breakfast sandwiches [on Wednesday],” Brown said.

Certain campus eateries started refusing to honor the deals to combat this influx of traffic.

According to a post on the popular Facebook page Overheard at Cornell, Bus Stop Bagels refused to honor the discounts starting Tuesday, citing monetary losses as the reason.

A worker at Jansen’s Market, who wished to remain anonymous, informed The Sun that the rest of the campus eateries would be following suit by Friday.

Brown said, “All rewards are definitely still being honored at all locations and will continue to be honored.”