Kerala

Bev Q goes kaput disrupting liquor sale

Customers wait outside a Consumerfed liquor store.

Customers wait outside a Consumerfed liquor store.   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

Liquor sale across the State was disrupted on Friday after Bev Q, the virtual queue management app for maintaining social distancing at liquor outlets, went kaput denying access to majority of users trying to book time slots.

Only a couple of customers turned up with tokens issued over the app at a premium outlet of the Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) in the heart of Kochi city till afternoon.

“There seems to be some trouble with the app and we are awaiting directions from KSBC on how to go about the sales if the situation continues as we are not supposed to sell liquor without tokens,” said a staff at the outlet.

A large number of users complained of not being able to access the app to book tokens for time slots. “Initially, a message of 'connection error' was flashed and later when I eventually managed to get through there was this other message that slots can only be booked from 3.45 a.m. to 9 a.m,” said Arjun B, a private company executive.

Faircode Technologies Private Limited, the startup which developed the app, could not be reached despite repeated attempts. Interestingly, the startup has removed its post on the app from its Facebook page along with all the scathing comments that it attracted.

Jose Pradeep, treasurer of Association of Approved and Classified Hotels of Kerala, said that the customer turnout was less than half of what it was on Thursday since only a few who booked the slots early in the morning seemed to have been issued tokens.

He also complained that though bar hotels have been issued user id and password for accessing the app to record their stock levels,that system was yet to take off. “How can they issue tokens judiciously unless our stock levels are taken into account,” Mr. Pradeep wondered.

Despite being ready with necessary stocks, around 50 hotels affiliated to the Federation of Kerala Hotels Association (FKHA) across the State weren't allotted a single slot on Thursday much to the chagrin of their owners.

“The app should have allowed users to choose their outlets based on availability of slots as we were originally told rather than randomly allot slots based on pincodes alone. There were many instances in which tokens were unused after the users were allotted slots in far away outlets and then they were not allowed to book slots for next five days,” said Davis Pathadan, State Working President, FKHA.

The random allocation of slots also had the inherent flaw where customers looking for reasonably-priced liquor brands ended up in premium hotels dealing only in high-end brands leaving them furious.

The absence of QR Code scanner continued to plague the service at liquor outlets and bars for the second day running forcing staff to note down the code and token number manually slowing down the entire process.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 10:43:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/bev-q-goes-kaput-disrupting-liquor-sale/article31702034.ece

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