A certain Web site demonstrates once again that there's no purient interest someone on the Web won't cater to. In this case, Re-Code.com lets visitors print UPC symbols (bar codes) to affix to packages at the grocery store or whatnot. By substituting, for instance, a name-brand product's UPC for a generic (or otherwise cheaper) competitor--and assuming the cashier doesn't notice the discrepancy--the
thief shopper gets the desired name-brand quality at a bargain price. This practice is simply foul.
It's one thing to shop carefully and make considered value judgements when at the store. And there's nothing wrong with naming one's own price when the seller agrees to the practice, as is the case with certain bargain travel and auction sites. It's quite another to "re-code" packaging to dishonestly substitute a genuine price tag wiht a bogus one.
Re-code.com claims in the following disclaimer to be satire: We in no way endorse the theft of products or services. Re-code.com was created as satire. We intend only to make aware the prevelance of barcodes and begin a critical discussion about what their pervasiveness means. This is not a product designed to be used in any malicious or illegal manner. Any such use is strictly prohibited. You should not use any of the barcodes available from this site for any illegal activity. They are here for your amusement only.
This press release, however, confirms the site's intent: To help unscrupulous consumers fraudulently game the UPC system. Even with the fig leaf of supposed satire, it's difficult to imagine how this sleazy site can pass legal muster, and I look forward to the relevant authorities taking interest promptly.
(via Ipse Dixit, which sums it up best: "There's a word for what Re-Code.com helps people do. That word is 'stealing'.")
Update: A Salon.com article on the site, via BoingBoing