The Union Government has asked e-commerce food business operators (FBOs) to furnish the details of the current framework as well as a proposal on improving the consumer grievance redressal mechanism in the next 15 days.
Rohit Kumar Singh, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, has given this direction to major e-commerce FBOs, while chairing a meeting to discuss pertinent issues which affect consumers in this sector.
E-commerce FBOs were 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. Platforms must also show individual consumer reviews transparently and refrain from showing only the aggregation of reviews.
According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, during the last 12 months, the National Consumer Helpline No. (1915) –NCH received 3,631 grievances for Swiggy and 2,828 grievances for Zomato. Both the companies are convergence partners on NCH.
The grievances were for deficiency in services, non or delay in delivery of product, defective or damaged products’ delivery, delivery of wrong products, non refund, charging more than MRP, non-veg food delivered instead of veg or vice versa, wrong promises, account suspension and amount debited but not credited to beneficiary.
The department official stated that during the meeting, major issues raised by the consumers on National Consumer Helpline of DoCA were discussed including veracity of the amount of delivery and packing charges and the reasonability of such charges, disparity between the price and quantity of food items shown on the platform and actually offered by the restaurant, 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.
Present on the occasion, representatives of 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 online FBOs. Also, a commission of around 20% was charged by the online FBOs on each order, the officials were informed.
The meeting was attended by major online food business operators including Swiggy and Zomato as well as the NRAI.
According to a statement by the DoCA, during the meeting, stakeholders acknowledged the need to address consumer grievances closely and develop a robust grievance redressal framework. They assured that the concerns raised in the meeting will be duly taken into consideration and the proposed improved and transparent framework will be shared with the department in 15 days.