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QR Codes at Restaurant: Exercise Caution while using them at Restaurant and also while posting photographs of the dish on social media

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In a recent incident in China, a woman dining at a restaurant, was provided with a bill of about ₹.49,00,000/- (60,000 USD or 430,000 yuan). This amount was based on the orders done using the QR Code that is placed on her table. The ultimate bill for the food consumed by her obviously included the food ordered through the QR Code that she had not even ordered personally.

Post the COVID regime, many restaurants have resorted to the QR Code Scanning system of ordering, and this has been done even for take-aways. Typically, the system is so designed, that the QR Code also contains a ‘designator’ of the table or the takeaway customer, who arrives at the restaurant. Once the guest is at the restaurant, the QR Code is mapped to the customer and the ordering is picked up on the online portal and the kitchen is told to prepare the selected menu, (done by the customer using the smartphone).

In this case, the women, Ms Wang, after visiting the restaurant, placed her order through the QR Code and then on the arrival of the dishes, decided to click a snap. Subsequently, she posted the photo of her meal on social media, she inadvertently included the QR code, which was then scanned by numerous online users who proceeded to place massive orders. Despite the woman’s attempts to rectify the situation, the restaurant was unable to cancel the orders, leaving her with a hefty bill.

While the QR codes on tables which allows customers to order food using their smartphones was for a convenience and also to ensure the adherence to social distancing norms and reduction of contacts; the QR Code, which was included in the snap that was posted immediately on the social media, was picked-up by unscrupulous users and was used as a means to order food. It is not clear if the orders were lifted from the restaurant or were lying pending at the restaurant kitchen. However, it was reported that the QR Code was being used by people online, to order food. The ordering by these online users, was being billed to Ms Wang, as the designator had assigned the QR Code for the respective instance to her. As per the screenshot of the order which Ms Wang later posted online; people ordered 1,850 portions of fresh duck blood, 2,580 portions of squid, and 9,990 portions of shrimp paste, each priced at a few dozen yuan (a few US dollars).

The details of the people who scanned the QR Code other than Ms Wang is available with the Restaurant and the Countries Cyber Backbone, but the prank has been played-upon and the kitchen had gone ahead in preparing the food. As the subject photograph had gone viral among other net users and the ordering was in continuation, the restaurant had to disable the service and blacklist the particular QR Code on permanent basis.

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