After getting more than 3,500 grievances against Swiggy and Zomato on its consumer helpline, the Department of Consumer Affairs on Monday directed the two major e-commerce food business operators (FBOs) to furnish, within 15 days, ways to better address those problems.
The e-commerce FBOs were also directed by the Department to transparently show consumers the breakup of all charges included in the order amount such as delivery charges, packaging charges, taxes, surge pricing etc.
The direction to furnish the current framework as well as a proposal on improving the consumer grievance redressal mechanism within 15 days was given during a meeting chaired by Secretary, Consumer Affairs, Rohit Kumar Singh with the major e-commerce food business operators, to discuss pertinent issues which affect consumers in this sector.
The meeting was informed that during the last 12 months, over 3,631 grievances were registered on the National Consumer Helpline (1915) against Swiggy and 2,828 against Zomato.
For Swiggy, it included the maximum 22 per cent for deficiency in services (803 complaints), followed by 17 per cent for non/delay in delivery of products (628 complaints) along with delivery of defective/damaged product (456 complaints or 13 per cent), delivery of wrong products (401 complaints), paid amount not refunded (391 complaints), product/product accessories missing (240 complaints), charging more than MRP (213 complaints), and non-veg food delivered instead of veg and vice versa (105 complaints).
For Zomato, deficiency in services topped the list too at 25 per cent (707 complaints) followed 18 per cent for delivery of defective/damaged product (499 complaints) along with non/delay in delivery of product (319 complaints), paid amount not refunded (307 complaints), and delivery of wrong products (298 complaints).
All these major issues raised by the consumers on the National Consumer Helpline were discussed. It also included inconsistency in the delivery time shown to consumers at the time of placing an order and the time at which the order is actually delivered, and absence of any mechanism to separate genuine reviews from fake ones.
The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) raised the issue of customer information not being shared by the e-commerce FBOs with the restaurants, which impacts their ability to serve the consumer needs better. “Further, delivery charges are determined and levied by the latter. Further, a commission of around 20 per cent is also charged by the online FBOs on each order,” it said.
“Platforms must also show individual consumer reviews transparently and refrain from showing only the aggregation of reviews. The right of choice for a consumer should be respected and the e-commerce FBOs were advised to allow consumers the choice to share their contact information with the restaurants, if the consumers want so,” the government said.
The e-commerce FBOs observed that prices of food items are decided by the restaurants and they have a grievance redressal mechanism in place which does have a scope for improvement considering the number and nature of grievances registered by the consumers, a government statement said.