Zomato Briefly Sacks Staffer for Telling Tamil Customer He Should Speak Hindi After Public Outcry

© AFP 2022 / INDRANIL MUKHERJEEIn this photo taken on December 24, 2018, an Indian delivery man working with the food delivery app Zomato sits on his bike in a business district in Mumbai.
In this photo taken on December 24, 2018, an Indian delivery man working with the food delivery app Zomato sits on his bike in a business district in Mumbai.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.10.2021
While issuing a public apology, Indian food-delivery app Zomato said that it has enlisted well-known Tamil musician Anirudh Ravichander as its local brand ambassador. It also announced that a Tamil version of the app and a local Tamil call support centre are also being built in Coimbatore.
Indian food delivery company Zomato has become embroiled in a furore after a customer from the southernmost state of Tamil Nadu alleged that he was denied a refund for a missing item in his order as he didn't know the "national language", Hindi.
Vikash, the customer, shared screenshots of his chat with the customer support staff. It showed that the customer care agent was supposed to refund him after speaking to the restaurant in Tamil Nadu. However, after unsuccessful attempts, the agent replied that there was "a language barrier".
After Vikash said that Zomato should hire customer support staff who understand the Tamil language if they are serving in Tamil Nadu, the agent replied: “For your information, Hindi is our national language. So, everyone should know Hindi a little bit.”
After a severe backlash, Zomato issued an apology in Tamil and English.
The food-delivery app also said it had sacked the employee as her "behaviour was clearly against the principles of sensitivity that we train our agents for".
"We understand food and language are core to any local culture and we take both of them seriously," Zomato added.
But after Zomato's statement, Vikash asked that the company re-employ the customer support staff and "train" her instead.
Hours later, in a series of tweets, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal announced that he was reinstating the employee as there was no reason to sack someone for such an issue.
He also stressed that the employee had made made a "mistake borne of ignorance".
Goyal also hit back at people criticising Zomato and said that the "level of tolerance" needs to be much higher in the country.
The customer shared his ordeal on Twitter on Monday, prompting massive outrage on social media.
Netizens slammed the food delivery app for "imposing" Hindi on its customers. Hashtags such as "Reject_Zomato" and "ZomatoSpeakTamil" started trending on the social media platform.
Later, the uproar against Zomato took a political turn after Kanimozhi Karunanidhi - a key parliamentarian from Tamil Nadu's ruling party Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) - took to Twitter where she said that such companies support customers who speak a "specific language".
"Some companies' customer service is only available in specific languages. Companies should make it mandatory for their customers to speak the state language. Customers do not need to know Hindi or English. Tamilians need no lessons on who is Indian", the DMK politician tweeted proudly in Tamil.
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