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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - There is a new way to get free stuff and it all starts with the GPS in your cell phone. Several new companies have created apps for your cell phone that utilize the GPS tracking in your mobile phone. Foursquare is part social networking and part game, with a little savings thrown in.
Here is how it works. You download Foursquare to your Blackberry, iPhone, Palm or Droid and then find your friends. This way, wherever you go - whether it is the grocery store or a restaurant - you 'check in'. This notifies your friends in a constant stream where you are.
The game works this way. The more you visit a place, the more you earn points or unlock badges. So, it becomes a competition among friends. Each participating establishment will set a certain amount of visits to become 'Mayor' of the establishment. With the title of 'Mayor' you get deals and even free stuff. It is a way of rewarding loyal customers.
Lisa Smith of Charlotte is all about Foursquare. She knows the restaurants that are participating, so when she goes, she 'checks in' with Foursquare.
"I become a brand ambassador," Smith said.
When she is done, she writes a note about her experience in the 'tips' section of Foursquare. It means honest advertising from those who are actually shopping or visiting the establishment.
Friends enjoy the game because it lets them share good deals, say a coffee special at your neighborhood java joint, or a dry cleaning special at your favorite cleaners.
"I see Jim is at Starbucks right now, so I could swing by and have coffee with him after lunch," Smith said while looking at her iPhone.
Restaurants love the game. Jim Jones is General Manager of Big Daddy's Burger Bar on East Boulevard.
"It is almost like a frequent diner program," Jones said.
Lisa is a regular customer at Big Daddy's and has been 'Mayor' for a while.
"They offer free appetizers to the Mayor, so I love that, and I always bring a few friends with me," said Smith.
In some cities, you'll find Foursquare deals at places national chains as well. In Charlotte, the game is just starting to take off, but already has some self proclaimed Foursquare addicts already.
"I love it, I absolutely love it," said Smith. "You've got to sign up."