Updated: Jun 18, 2020
There's a problem with Zomato delivering during Covid-19: Not everyone is on the same page in the delivery scheme.
June 18, 2020 UPDATE: Matter has been resolved. Skip to bottom for Zomato response.
On the evening of May 31, 2020, two small errors were made in Zomato's delivery protocol which resulted in an on-time delivery, a complaint for a missing order, a refund, a delivery driver being penalized 1,500+ rupees, and a customer service nightmare for Zomato customers (us) and the delivery driver (whom I shall keep anonymous). An ongoing customer service nightmare.
This likely wouldn't have happened pre-Covid-19. Zomato et al. used to deliver straight to your door. But with Mumbai's lockdown, deliveries, if at all available in non-containment zones, were delivered straight to the guards at the gate. This usually wasn't a problem. Zomato customers would check their apps, seen their orders had arrived, and gone to fetch their orders outside. But what if there are many people ordering and retrieving orders, and the bags of food contain no bill and no flat number? What if the bag is completely unmarked, like it was today when I received a Zomato order, except for Zomato stickers?
Adding to this non-hypothetical event, what if the food was delivered on time, and the wrong people from the wrong flat picked up the order by mistake because they were expecting an order around the same time too? And what if the customers expecting this order were told that it had in fact, been delivered. But customers claimed, no! No order here. Where is it? We want a refund! Refund given by Zomato. And then...
What if this order magically appeared a few hours after the fact from the guard? And Zomato checks back with irate customers to check to see if the order was finally received? Customers say, yes. And then... Zomato penalizes the delivery driver 1,500+ rupees for the refund given for late/non-delivery. And how would I know about the delivery driver being penalized for the cost of our order? Because the delivery driver told us. Over. And over. And over. And over again. It became apparent to us, one week after this incident, that Zomato and the driver weren't communicating effectively. It was also very apparent that our initial complaint to Zomato customer service, explaining what had happened, had fallen on deaf ears.
Feeling much pity for the delivery driver, my wife made one more call to Zomato customer service to try to rectify the matter. Surprisingly, the customer service rep (who's name I shall also keep anonymous) wasn't interested in reimbursing the delivery driver (or charging us back for the full amount in order to do so) but seemed very keen on having him fired. He told my wife that he was going to do just that. Frustrated that the takeaway from our complaint was 'fire the driver', my wife threatened the customer service rep. that we'd have him fired if he did such a thing. He was told to fix the problem, not make a whole different matter out of it.
We heard absolutely nothing from Zomato after this phone call. But two weeks later, we continue to hear from the Zomato delivery driver, who continues to try to collect from us. My wife had told him that we would pay him if Zomato doesn't resolve the issue. And we told him to wait until the 14th of June because we were trying to get Zomato to handle it officially. Nothing was handled. June 16th arrives. Multiple calls from the delivery driver. Now, things have turned ugly. Fearing that we would not be paying him, his calls became more frantic and heated. We ended up blocking him on multiple numbers.
Now, let me point out right here that the delivery man's course of action probably wouldn't have been much different from what I would have done if I'd been in his shoes. First, my employer penalizes me for delivering ON TIME and then TAKES IT OUT OF MY PAY. Then it looks like even his customers won't be paying up.
Here's my problem now, since this thing has gotten way out of hand. The money for us isn't the issue. My problem is that Zomato side-stepped the problem and left their employee to fend for himself and deal directly with the customer - off the record. Next, I'm taking time out of my day to Tweet out to Zomato from my Twitter account. I'm messaging them yet again to solve the issue. I re-explain everything, tell them not to bother calling us back again, to simply solve the matter. Which ideally would be paying their driver for the good work that he had initially performed in good faith.
I even spelled out what resolutions would make us happy:
1) Please bill us.
2) Please re-imburse the delivery driver
3) Stop this driver from harassing us
4) Do not fire the driver please if possible
Everyone knows what's been going on during lockdown in India. Times are indeed tough. Workers are scratching for every last rupee in order to survive. And big companies like Zomato should be listening to their customers more closely, especially when it concerns the well-being of their employees, and doubly especially if they had done nothing wrong to begin with.
Mind you, all of this happened, in my estimation, because there was no order receipt in the food bag; there was no address (at least a flat number) written on the bag itself. I think it's plain to see that the driver had done nothing wrong to deserve being penalized some 1,500 rupees for an order he delivered on-time. I'm hoping that Zomato does the right thing and reimburse him. An apology to him wouldn't hurt, either. I'll even make it cost-free to you, Zomato. Reach out to me and I'll personally pay you to reimburse your delivery driver. Even though our order was a few hours late.
Stay tuned for an update to this story. I'm really hoping for a positive outcome for everyone.
June 18, 2020 update from Zomato. From a Facebook DM: "We escalated the concern to the delivery management team, and spoken to the delivery partner regarding the concern he raised. We have assured him that the penalty imposed on him will be revoked as the order was successfully delivered to you and he was not at fault. We deeply apologise for all the trouble faced by you, we will ensure that the rider contacts his support team for the grievances . Please reach out to us, incase you require any further assistance."
Hats off and kudos to Zomato. I was surprised at how quickly and professionally this matter was handled at the upper levels of management. Great job!