The Department of Consumer Affairs directed the major e-commerce food business operators (FBOs) to furnish their current framework as well as future plans for improving the consumer grievance redressal mechanism.
The Narendra Modi government on June 13 has directed major e-commerce food business operators (FBOs) like Swiggy and Zomato to submit a proposal within 15 days on improving their consumer grievance redressal mechanism.
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"The Department of Consumer Affairs has directed major e-commerce Food Business Operators (FBOs) to furnish the current framework as well as a proposal on improving the consumer grievance redressal mechanism within 15 days," an official statement.
The directive was given during a meeting chaired by the Department of Consumer Affairs Secretary Rohit Kumar Singh with major e-commerce FBOs, to discuss pertinent issues which affect consumers in this sector.
"During the last 12 months, over 3,631 grievances have been registered on the National Consumer Helpline (1915) for Swiggy and 2,828 have been registered for Zomato," the statement said.
During the meeting, major issues raised by the consumers on the National Consumer Helpline of DoCA were discussed, including the veracity of the amount of delivery and packing charges and the reasonability of such charges; the 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.
Also, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has raised the issue of customer information not being shared by the e-commerce FBOs with the restaurants, which impacts their ability to serve consumer needs better.
The department directed the e-commerce FBOs to transparently show to 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. It was emphasised that the right of choice for a consumer should be respected and the e-commerce FBOs were advised to allow consumers the choice to share their contact information with the restaurants if the consumers so want," the department said.
The meeting was attended by major online food business operators including Swiggy and Zomato as well as the NRAI.
The e-commerce FBOs observed that prices of food items are decided by the restaurants and admitted that they have a grievance redressal mechanism in place, which does have a scope for improvement considering the number and nature of grievances registered by consumers.