A QR Code That Alienates Potential Customers

Debenhams seem to be persisting with their policy of using indirect QR Codes (see previous post Debenhams QR Code). An ad on page 5 of today’s London Evening Standard (image below) offering 10% off ‘beauty and fragrance’ contains a QR Code that decodes as “DB::LIST::static-0011445” and is obviously meant to be scanned with Debenhams iPhone app. So lets see what this means…

  • Everyone who scans the code without the app sees a useless character string, what kind of impression does that give?
  • If you have a BlackBerry, Motorola, Nokia, HTC, in fact any other Smartphone the message seems to be “…don’t use Debenhams until you get an iPhone”.
  • If you have an iPhone and you have download the app then you get the special offer but so does everyone else who visits the website.

Now I don’t don’t know who advises Debenhams on their app and QR Code strategy but whoever you are give them their money back.

QR Code ad in the London Evening Standard

6 thoughts on “A QR Code That Alienates Potential Customers”

  1. Well, I’d place 100::1 odds in favour of this being done by an iPhone developer. Myopic beings that they are, they (all too) often believe their bubble and the world-all-around are one in the same (iOS is less than 10% of the overall mobile market, an elite minority, but a minority all the same).

    For all the in-fighting about QR v. 2D v. image detection v. new technologies looming on the horizon, the example above is why QR may fade away before it arrives.

    If anyone uses a QR code that does not resolve with a generic QR reader, they should realize they have polluted the stream they drink from. As well as destroying the stream for many others.

    What happens if even 10-20% of the QR codes in the public spaces do not resolve with a QR Reader?

    I’ll bet the team over at Microsoft Tag are having a really good laugh. Perhaps proprietary systems are more intelligent than we give them credit for?

  2. Thanks for lumping us iPhone devs all in one Bob, appreciate it.

    I would put money on it being added by someone in the design department who was told to add it without any real knowledge of how they work. Most of the issues I see with QR Codes right now are down to a lack of understanding. It will improve with time as all these things do.

  3. I would agree with Steve here, that it’s most likely someone tasked with an assignment with no real knowledge of how to do it. I think people would be surprised to know just how little thought goes into the task of doing business.

    The unfortunate result is that the offending company has a marketing promotion that not only fails at it’s task but goes one step further, confusing and alienating potential customers. There’s so much choice in the free market that companies often get one chance, if that.

  4. Hi Roger, I work at Debenhams and picked up on this post. You’ve raised some interesting issues and so we thought a bit more info from our side might be useful. We know that iPhone users are the largest percentage of smartphone users for Debenhams customers and so we felt it was a good place to start with our work in this area. We do however have plans to develop the app out for further handsets and ultimately we want to develop a mobile site so that all smartphone users can shop for Debenhams products from their phones. We know there’s more work to be done, and we’re expecting to learn along the way and so your feedback and comments are very helpful. Thanks.

  5. Bit like Waitrose. Pop it on the screen for 1 second so people can’t scan it. It’s these people that really should do thier homework first.

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