Apr 2, 2023 - Business

Tampa Bay hates QR codes, according to readers

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The pandemic changed so much about how we interact with the world, and while some changes have come and gone — so long, Lysoling the groceries — some are here to stay. One example? QR codes at restaurants.

What's happening: Axios Tampa Bay asked readers what they think about the trend, and let's just say the answers were pretty clear: Nearly all of you hate it.

By the numbers: Before we dive into your responses, let's review just how popular the little square codes have gotten.

  • In 2019, about 52.6 million U.S. smartphone users scanned a QR code at least once, according to Business Insider.
  • By 2022, that number ballooned to 83.4 million.
  • QR haters are far from the minority. One poll found that 88% of diners prefer paper menus.

Between the lines: The codes, which just a few years ago seemed to be going the way of the fax machine, can now be found on billboards, in stores, on wedding invitations, and even in Super Bowl ads.

  • But nowhere are they more ubiquitous than restaurants, where contactless menus save money and time when no one has to clean them between uses and updates don't have to be reprinted.

What you're saying: Reader Adrian W. pulls no punches: "I absolutely loathe the QR code menus. They are (at best) difficult to read. I understand the necessity of their use during the height of the Covid epidemic, but much prefer the menu I can peruse while holding it in my hands."

  • Lorraine S. likes paper menus because you can "look, ponder, flip it over," which you can't do on a phone. Plus, Lorraine prefers "phones away at dinner … well, after you photo your food ;-)"
  • Others, like Alicia S., call QR codes discriminatory toward older patrons, and those without smartphones. Kathy R. has even walked out of a restaurant because they didn't have a traditional menu.

The other side: Reader Lynda Z. admits to loving QR codes. "Much cleaner than old school menus!"

Thought bubble: It's hard to deny the environmental and health friendliness of a QR code menu, but no one is about to design a dining room gallery wall with QR codes.


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