Foursquare is currently testing a new, improved process for claiming venues with a “small portion” of merchants. It represents the first major change to their claim process since September 2010.
The biggest change is an instant credit card verification option. For a one-time $10 fee, merchants can be verified instantly, giving them immediate access to all the tools foursquare provides.
The $10 fee appears designed to discourage invalid claims rather than as a money-maker for foursquare. It’s a relatively small amount that shouldn’t serve as a deterrent for most merchants. Those who are concerned about the cost still have the option to receive a code via snail mail.
To start the process, merchants will be required to enter their phone number (mobile or landline), which foursquare’s automated system will call immediately. The system will ask for their name and the name of the venue, then give them a secret code to enter on the foursquare site. From there, they’ll be given the choice between credit card verification and the snail mail code.
Giving merchants the option to use any phone number should make verification much easier. The previous phone sytem checked a national database of numbers and would only call those numbers. If the number wasn’t found in the database, users were forced to have the code sent via snail mail to the venue address. That presented problems for places like food trucks, merchants with multiple locations (fewer than 10 stores) or even those who simply weren’t there the day the code arrived in the mail.
Like the previous phone verification system, the instant verification option is currently US-only, but a foursquare spokesperson says they “hope to make the service available internationally soon.” International merchants have been clamoring for an option other than snail mail, because the claim codes often take weeks to make their way overseas.
In their support document for the new process, foursquare is quick to remind merchants that they should create a page for the company before claiming the venue rather than using their personal account. Manager info is visible on public profile pages and often results in unwanted friend requests.
I haven’t been able to test the new system yet, but it appears that it should alleviate some of the problems found in the previous iteration — especially for US merchants. Hopefully foursquare will roll out instant verification for international venues soon, because they’re the ones most in need.
Have you been through the new process? What do you think of the changes?
UPDATE (5/1): Foursquare announced they’ve rolled this new process out for everyone (in the US, at least).
UPDATE (5/17): The new claim process is now available worldwide.