Why some people should not be allowed to QR Code

The other day while shopping in Trader Joes, I was trying to find a bottle of wine for dinner, and a younger preppy mother was next to me with her 3-year-old son also looking at the selection.

QR Codes Stupid

“Which one do you want honey? Go pick one.” I could not believe this was happening, and found my face in total disgust.

“Wait, do you want this one or that one?” The little boy then grabbed the shinier looking bottle of Champaign off the shelf and “mom” put it in the cart.

I think she noticed the intense look of “I-am-so-judging-you-right-now” on my face and then nervously said “Well… it’s not like you can have some anyways honey…”

I tweeted about it and left it with the tag, #youshouldnotbeallowedtoreproduce.

That is how I feel about most people using QR codes. I have seen so many misuses of QR codes as of recent, and I’m developing a new pet peeve.

So in an effort to avoid me tweeting about you with #youshouldnotbeallowedtoQRcode, I’ve written down some rules.


1. Do not put a QR code on your website.
I can’t believe I even have to explain this, but I’ve seen people putting QR codes to link to their website… ON THEIR WEBSITE.

2. Do not use QR codes on food.
One person thought it was a really good idea to put them on cupcakes. Okay –first, try scanning it. Second, I already have a QR for cupcakes – I EAT THEM.

3. Do not put QR codes on clothing.
If you think you are being “clever” or “cool” by putting a QR code on your shirt…think again.

Clothing moves. And it wrinkles. You have to get the person to be perfectly still, unwrinkle the shirt, and probably try scanning it a few times before you actually get it to work.  By putting a QR code on a t-shirt defeats the purpose of a “Quick Response” code by definition. In the time it would take to do this, the shirt-wearer could tell them what it links to and why. And you could tell them why they’re an idiot.

4. Make sure the QR Code actually works.
You know how your teachers always told you to double check your work? If you don’t remember anything from K-12, at least remember that. There have been countless numbers of complaints from major companies using QR codes that don’t work.
GOOD QR Codes uses:

1. For food nutritional information
McDonalds has been using QR codes in Japan on their packaging for nutritional information. Now this is a great idea – a QR code that saves additional paper by handing out nutritional guides.

2. The real estate industry
The real estate industry has been making use of QR codes to direct to landing pages on homes buyers visit homes to give them more information.

3. Business cards
This can get screwed up easily, but if done right, this could be an innovative way to people to check out your website, and show you’re “tech savvy.’ Just make sure you give them more than just the info on your business card. Make it worth it to the person to scan the code.

These are just a few ideas I found to be good ideas for QR codes. Basically, use it on print items, and make sure the code makes it worth the person’s scan. People want something that’s valuable to them, and worth their time. We use QR codes to show that we’re smart or tech savvy or something like that in our marketing efforts. But if you use it incorrectly, it’ll backfire and make you to be a true idiot.

Let us know what QR Code FAILS you’ve witnessed!

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Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.


  1. Devan, GREAT commentary! I especially love this little ditty: “I already have a QR for cupcakes – I EAT THEM” lol…Becka

  2. Thanks, Becka! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed.

  3. If you have content that people can store on their smartphone for further reference, like a picture or a map, a qr code on a website can work

  4. Hi Mark! Totally agree – QR codes can be really great if you use them well!

  5. Nice post! Here are few more tips from me (related to usage of QR codes):
    – Don’t put it on posters in underground stations – there is no network there.
    – Don’t put it in magazines (in airplanes) – cellphones are prohibited there.
    – Don’t put it on highway billboards. Do I really have to explain why? It puts a driver into danger! Plus it’s almost impossible to focus and scan it.
    – Don’t attach it to airplanes. Yes, I know – it sounds stupid, but someone attached a giant QR code to a plane. Here’s more info – http://marketingshmarketing.net/post/123828169596/12-epic-qr-code-fails

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