These quick response barcodes are offering discounts through scans, but cell phone use is prohibited near the pumps.
Those black and white squares known as QR codes are popping up virtually everywhere, including some places that are causing a considerable amount of confusion among consumers.
Though some marketers have been using these barcodes very successfully, others are doing more harm than good.
A prime example of this struggle has been popping up in Minnesota, where gas stations are posting QR codes to encourage smartphone users to scan in order to obtain a discount offer. However, also present at the pumps is a notable amount of signage telling consumers not to use their electronic devices – including cell phones – on the premises due to a risk of sparks that could cause fires.
This type of confusing use of QR codes only contributes to the struggle that this method is experiencing among consumers.
At the same time, the State Fire Marshal, Jerry Rosendahl, has expressed that there really isn’t any known danger associated with cell phone use near gas pumps. He said that “Somebody had service station video of a person talking on their phone, getting out of their car and then they had a flash fire so they naturally jumped to the assumption that it was cell phones.”
Rosendahl went on to say that his office does not believe that cell phone use could be a cause of this type of fire and therefore, they are not the ones issuing the signs that are posted near gas pumps. Therefore, it is the gas stations themselves that are posting both types of signs – those that encourage smartphone use to scan QR codes and those that say that it is not permitted to use cellular phones near the pumps.
Exxon issued a statement that said that in Minnesota, the posting and placement of ads with QR codes and of the warning signs are up to the individual gas station owners and that they are not the policy of the brand as a whole.
Rosendahl did point out that there is one primary concern about using cell phones while at the pumps, but that it doesn’t have to do with scanning QR codes. He said that “I don’t necessarily worry about being on your cell phone but I’d rather have you concentrating on using the hazardous material of gasoline.” He added that “That’s nothing to fool with.”