Hours after restaurants called Zomato’s new food quality policy one-sided, the delivery platform stepped up communication with its partners to signal peace and prevent hasty action. Fearing a ban based on customer complaints, National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) chairman Kabir Suri previously raised industry concerns during his conversation with Zomato co-founder Mohit Gupta.
In a day of rapid developments, Zomato said Friday night that it was pushing the implementation of the new food quality policy to May 3 from April 18. The food delivery platform has also invited restaurants to provide feedback on the policy framework by April. 22. To allay restaurant fears of a ban, the company said cases relevant to the policy framework were rare (0.001%). “However, these rare issues, if left unaddressed, can damage customer trust and the reputation of foodservice establishments in the long run,” he added.
Zomato added that it would work closely with its restaurant partners to establish the authenticity of any complaints received. Post that only in the event that an appropriate resolution is not offered within a reasonable time, the restaurant can be temporarily deactivated from the platform, he explained.
“The deactivation will be done in consultation with restaurant management and will only be applicable until the necessary corrective actions are taken and verified by an FSSAI-certified health and safety auditor,” the company told reporters. restaurant partners in an email that Business Standard reviewed.
“While the intent of the policy is good, there are concerns about how Zomato is trying to implement it. This could prove to be a drastic move for budget restaurants and small cloud kitchens on the platform” , said Pranav Rungta, head of the Mumbai chapter of the NRAI.
“How is Zomato really going to verify if the complaint is genuine through a customer service manager sitting in a call center and looking at a photo of the food shared by the consumer,” he said. asked. “We can take responsibility for the food until it leaves the restaurants.
After that, confusion may occur on the side of delivery managers or even after reaching a customer,” Rungta added.
There is already a dispute resolution mechanism in place where customers can register complaints about restaurant food quality with the FSSAI and an aggregator does not have the authority to investigate such issues, he said. supported.
According to the QSR Samosa Party brand, there have also been cases in the industry where a competitor has attempted to deliberately sabotage a restaurant by posting quality issues on social media or preparing fake reviews.
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“Our mission is to convince people that the belief that dirty is good is wrong, especially in the dirty segment we play in. One doesn’t have to come at the expense of the other,” he said. said Diksha Pande, co-founder of Samosa. To party.
Zomato previously listed the presence of dangerous foreign objects in food like insects and sharp objects like glass, serving pre-packaged foods, non-vegetarian foods instead of vegetarian ones, wrong type of meat, and rotten foods as examples. serious food quality problems.
“Such a policy will hurt small, friendly restaurants like us the most. Our clientele, like students, often raises complaints for refunds,” said Rajat Jaiswal, co-founder of Wat-a-Burger.
“70% of customer complaints turn out to be false on aggregation platforms. If restaurants are penalized, why not penalize a customer who files a false complaint,” Jaiswal asked.
This isn’t the first time meal delivery platforms have clashed with restaurant partners over quality issues. In 2018, food aggregators Zomato and Swiggy delisted more than 10,000 restaurants after the FSSAI observed that more than 30-40% of food businesses on online platforms did not have a valid license. Delivery platforms had also developed programs that required restaurants to obtain a list of hygiene and standards audits carried out by third-party companies based on which they were rated on the platform.
”The restaurants had opposed these programs because we had to pay a lot of money for these notes. Aggregators were eventually forced to backtrack on those plans,” NRAI’s Rungta said.