Zomato shocker: Restaurateurs, delivery boys, customers weigh in on food tampering scare
Long working hours mean most millennials hardly have time or ability to cook. Hence, they depend on online food ordering platforms. And a recent video of a Zomato delivery boy, eating and putting back food meant for the customer, has gone viral on Twitter. In the two-minute clip, the delivery boy is seen eating the food, resealing the package and replacing it in his bag.
In an official response, a Zomato spokesperson reiterated their commitment to eliminate any possibility of tampering with food. The spokesperson said Zomato will soon introduce tamper-proof tapes, and other precautionary measures to “ensure we safeguard against any chances of tampering of food. Zomato has a zero tolerance policy for tampering of food. This incident only makes our commitment to fleet training, scheduling and process even stronger. We stand behind our extensive fleet who do the right thing across many hours of the day.”
The video, the authenticity of which has not yet been verified, has drawn flak from Twitter users with several people making memes and debating the services of such food delivery portals. And this is not the first time a video like this has surfaced on Twitter, a similar video of an Uber Eats delivery boy taking a bite from a customer’s order in Australia was earlier viral.
We got in touch with restaurateurs, online delivery and boxed catering portals, customers and of course delivery boys, for their views. While all agreed such things are rare, delivery personnel were apprehensive a single incident would give all of them a bad name.
Harsh conditions, but few cheats: Delivery boys
“We delivery boys work day and night. We don’t get any breaks, not even for meals. All the time we are driving from one place to another, non-stop. So I can understand the temptation for this delivery boy to indulge in such an act. Ideally, delivery boys should be given lunch breaks or at least restaurants or delivery portals should provide us a meal service,” says a delivery boy, who wished to stay anonymous.
“There is no official lunch break. Delivery boys are supposed to take out time to eat right in the middle of work. And that’s the problem. Imagine you are about to eat your lunch and suddenly you get a delivery request? There is always a shortage of time in this job. However, most delivery guys are well trained and well behaved, I think this is a one-off case,” says Muhammad Shahid.
“This is a classic case of one bad apple affecting the entire bunch. All of us should not be blamed for his mistake. The outrage on social media makes it even worse. It’s got nothing to do with food delivery companies or restaurants, but everything to do with the individual. Blame the person. Anyone can do this,” says Sachin Verma, another delivery boy.
“It’s an extremely demanding and a thankless job, but which job isn’t? However, what this person has done is inexcusable. It only makes jobs of people like me tougher. At times, the delivery guys eat leftover food; and this is only in rare situations when the company they work for don’t provide them meals. People like this should be fired and such incidents are very rare. Most of the delivery personnel are not like this,” says Mithilesh Yadav.
Tamper-proof Packaging essential: Restaurateurs
“Restaurants have to ensure they are extremely careful. Food should be packed and sealed in such a manner that once the seal is opened, it can’t be fixed or tampered with. It’s inevitable the restaurant’s reputation is also affected in such a situation. Restaurants and delivery portals are interdependent and so far, the relationship has been good. This is a one-off case, I think,” says Umang Tewari.
“This is an individual mistake, not that of the restaurant or the delivery portal. And it should be seen as such. As for packaging concerns, I agree that maybe we can change a bit, introduce locking containers I guess. Moreover, no system is perfect. Give the delivery guy a break as they virtually work 24x7. Unnecessary outrage on social media doesn’t help,” says Inderjeet Singh Banga.
Require more checks: Online caterers
“Before hiring delivery guys, we do a background check and driving test. After 15 days of being hired, the boys undergo hygiene training. They are also taught how to communicate and deal with customers. However, the most important aspect of a delivery boy’s job is teaching him how to handle boxes while delivering orders. The motivation to pilfer for delivery boys with online food portals like Zomato and Swiggy is more given that they hardly get time to eat through the day. They get paid as per the orders they deliver. On the other hand, delivery boys directly employed by restaurants are provided food as part of their job,” says Gaurav Mehta.
“Delivery is a huge market, there is manpower shortage while competition is high. Therefore every competitor hires delivery boys in bulk without adequate screening or training. The boys need to be trained. And there has to be a rating system as well. We call the customer and get feedback once our person has delivered the food. Also, you need to understand delivery boys are under a lot of pressure. There are also instances, where packaging from the restaurant itself is shoddy. Finally I’ll say there are loopholes at every end — the restaurant, delivery service provider and delivery boys — which have to be addressed,” says Varun Khera.
An isolated incident
“In my opinion, delivery guys are overworked. They work round-the-clock. Maybe this guy was hungry and just wanted to grab a bite. Delivery guys don’t do the packaging, they just deliver the food. Restaurants need to take some responsibility when it comes to packaging as this affects their brand too. If this becomes a trend then it’s obvious that people will lose faith in delivery boys. And this will be a big loss to the whole online food delivery ecosystem. I admit this incident got me thinking. Maybe, from now on, I’ll pick up my food rather than ordering online,” says Srishti Doonga, HR professional.
“This is an isolated incident, it doesn’t affect me much. But I’ll just be a bit more careful with the orders I receive. Why did the delivery guy do this? These people work round the clock, they hardly get any time to eat. The other possibility could be that they must have done this out of spite for the company/owner or rude customers who repeated orders and feel entitled; like asking the delivery guy to pick extra stuff such as a cold drink or cigarettes. I don’t think one incident will make customers, especially bachelors and millennials like me, lose trust in food delivery services. However, this is a shocker for the older generation. The take-away from this is to blame the individual, not the company,” says Abhimanyu Harlalka, consultant.