Amid the pandemic-caused lockdown, online food ordering and delivery platforms in India including Swiggy and Zomato have been listed under “essential services”, and allowed to deliver groceries and prepared meals from their restaurant partners.
But customers have been calling out these platforms for not taking their “essential services” quite seriously enough.
“We have teams in place which perform a detailed RCA (root cause analysis) for each and every case. This includes reaching out to all stakeholders to ascertain the most appropriate action,” a Zomato spokesperson told Sputnik, while dodging questions on their response to restaurants serving rotten food and procedures for striking off food outlets.
Threads of consumer complaints have been surfacing on Twitter, which along with pictures, claiming that the restaurant-cooked meal that reached them ended up being stale. In the pre-coronavirus era, people would still be happy with a replacement order or refund, but now, during a critical health crisis, people are demanding “investigations” on restaurants that are not checking their food quality.
Sputnik has also obtained recent medical bills of a Noida city-based businesswoman Taniya Tikoo who was recently hospitalised after she consumed cupcakes prepared by popular bakery chain Theos and delivered by Swiggy, which turned out to have been made using stale dairy. Several others have also taken to Twitter to complain about their recent experiences with “bad food” ordered online.
#swiggynotsafe @swiggy_in @swiggy_in can you guarantee us food safety even in the Pandemic or not?? Because of your food I had to go to a hospital and that puts my entire family at risk. Do you even care?— Taniya Tikoo (@tikoo_taniya) May 15, 2020
#swiggynotsafe I am in so much pain because of eating stale food that you guys didn’t check. And Swiggy says cant tell u what action we will take, take 300 rs coupon as a compensation for risking my life. Which I still haven’t received 😂@SwiggyCares @ZomatoIN @harshamjty— Taniya Tikoo (@tikoo_taniya) May 15, 2020
@zomatocare is this your service being a restaurant partner with you i condemn this types of restaurant are on zomato.stale food bad packaging.even in this time.solve it asap or i will throw on the face of this restaurant pic.twitter.com/DxXY7KsDu8— abhijeet samal (@samalAbhijeet) May 14, 2020
@Zomato delivering stale rotten food in times of a pandemic when hygiene and food safety should be paramount . When reported absolutely no action taken by customer service. Lost one loyal customer today. pic.twitter.com/DOqlwzKLhb— Parna Sarkar (@parna_1) May 10, 2020
@swiggy_in @SwiggyCares I guess you really need to change your CSR’s or train them properly since they really don’t Care about ur customers problems.I ordered food through swiggy and received stale food which smelled disgusting.— shruti panwar (@panwar_shruti) May 18, 2020
Recieved stale food from Svadu Sweets restaurant(BTM) & delivery was done @swiggy_in. Tried contacting swiggy and the restaurant. Nobody is willing to compensate. I don't think I can confide in @swiggy_in anymore as providing stale food is norm now from @swiggy_in#disappointed pic.twitter.com/UU7M4bLRIN— arunjit das (@arunjit1990) May 18, 2020
“After I insisted that they take investigate and action against the said restaurant for sending over stale food, Swiggy executives assisted me in filing a complaint with the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI). As a responsible citizen, all I want is that these food delivery platforms take note of these irresponsible restaurants and take necessary actions against them. We are in a very critical health state right now and these essential services must be more responsible,” the Noida-based entrepreneur told Sputnik.
When Sputnik reached out to Swiggy for their comments, the food delivery platform, that claims a presence in 500 Indian towns with 140,000 restaurant partners, conveniently declined to answer while sharing a link to their “safety blog mentioning the measures adopted by Swiggy”.
“Unfortunately we won't be able to participate in this one. Here is the link to our safety blog.”
The government, which has launched a training programme for food businesses under its "Food Safety Training & Certification programme" (FoSTaC), also failed to provide concrete answers to the queries.
“We are not giving any specific comment for online delivery platforms. FSSAI has issued a guidance note and it's detailed as well as quite comprehensive for all food handlers to take precautionary measures. You can use the guidance doc as a reference,” a spokesperson told Sputnik.
The COVID-19 situation has made people sceptical about ordering from restaurants and hotels, but those some who just “have to have a piping hot pizza right now” are still relying on a crave-buster from outside every once in a while.
After the lockdowns, online ordering platforms including Swiggy and Zomato have been garnering user-trust by displaying information on the measures their restaurant and delivery partners are adhering to while preparing and delivering food.
@swiggy_in keeps customers informed about the safety measures its taking while ensuring piping hot and fancy restaurant-made food is reaching customers with necessary precautions and protections. pic.twitter.com/76zLF6IKod— Radhika Parashar (@_RadhikaReports) May 14, 2020
Customers, however, have different experiences to share. Delivery executives also confirmed to Sputnik that despite up to 50 percent salary cuts and heavy lay-offs, the companies have not been provided them with masks and gloves as mart of their “safety measures”.
why he didn't wear a mask...he just food the food down and zoomed away! And attached is Swiggy's response to the issue. They just don't care. I'm going to pull out the footage from the cctv & post it too#swiggynotsafe #dontorderfromswiggy #nomasks #nohelmets #cheatingcustomers— Preetish (@preetishp) May 19, 2020
As obtained by @SputnikInt ..@swiggy_in delivery executuve in Nouda confims no gloves or masks provided to them by the company.— Radhika Parashar (@_RadhikaReports) May 21, 2020
The jobs of these people includes touching packages and going to people's house. pic.twitter.com/A42k1R7ch5
In a bid to keep the customers calm, some restaurants in India have begun live-streaming their kitchens for their customers to see how their food is being prepared.
COVID-19 cases in India have crossed the 100,000 mark as the country has entered its fourth phase of lockdown.