Lime is finally dealing with a QR code design flaw on its scooters

To stop people from peeling stickers off its electric scooters, QR codes will now be placed behind a piece of plastic.

Wiesbaden, Germany - February 15, 2020: Electric push scooters of Lime in the city center of Wiesbad...
ollo/iStock Unreleased/Getty Images

One of the reasons Lime’s electric scooters are so successful is how easy the company’s made it to hop on and off one at any time. The process became even easier when Lime introduced an app-less rental option earlier this year — we praised the new feature as one that might sway strangers to try the rental service. It seems the technology powering all those rentals may have been deployed somewhat haphazardly, though, leading to frustration for Lime and would-be scooter riders.

The QR code stickers used for scooter rentals are being peeled off by random people, according to BBC News. Not even for malicious reasons like stealing the scooters for eternal use — just out of boredom or a penchant for general chaos. Riders in London, in particular, have been complaining about the widespread issue. Without a QR sticker, Lime’s scooters remain locked and useless. Lime says most of the damage has been done by “antisocial non-riders,” which we take to mean groups of terrifying British teens.

Lime now says it’s implementing a fix: sealing the QR code behind a layer of plastic. Hopefully it’s enough to actually stop vandals and solve this problem of Lime’s own making.

Antisocial nonriders — It’s unclear just how widespread this issue is as Lime hasn’t said much about it at all. The company does recognize that the problem exists and specifically mentioned London in a statement to BBC News. The company did not speak to any other cities specifically. (We’ve reached out for comment and will update this piece when Lime gets back to us.)

“We have clear steps in place to prevent QR code vandalism, including deploying protective covers on all vehicles,” Lime told BBC News. “By creating a safe and reliable service in London, we are ensuring we have a long-term impact on improving congestion and air pollution in the city we love.”

A sticker? Really? — Lime is right. A reliable fleet of electric scooters and mopeds can be a huge boon to a city’s transportation system. But this QR code debacle has us wondering just how reliable your service can really be when its backbone is a series of stickers that can be peeled off by pesky teens. That’s not just frustrating — it’s bad design.

Nonetheless, Lime has been doing well for itself. The e-scooter rental program has expanded to New York City, and mopeds are available there now, too. The company’s electric bikes have much improved this year, too, and Lime is bringing them to 25 new cities in Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. The company’s profits will probably do even better once those pranksters stop peeling off the QR codes from its scooters.