Zomato in trouble after agent’s ‘Hindi’ lesson to customer; sacks employee, reinstates later

  • A massive backlash followed on Twitter with many slamming the food delivery app for “imposing Hindi” on its customers.
Zomato in trouble after agent’s ‘Hindi’ lesson to customer; sacks employee, reinstates later.(Reuters Photo)
Zomato in trouble after agent’s ‘Hindi’ lesson to customer; sacks employee, reinstates later.(Reuters Photo)
Published on Oct 19, 2021 04:49 PM IST
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Written by Shubhangi Gupta | Edited by Meenakshi Ray, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Zomato landed in a controversy on Tuesday after a customer from Tamil Nadu alleged he was denied a refund for a missing item in his order as he didn't know the "national language" Hindi. Soon, a massive backlash followed on Twitter with many slamming the food delivery app for “imposing Hindi” on its customers. This also led to hashtags "Reject_Zomato" and "ZomatoSpeakTamil" trending on top on the social media platform.

"Customer care says amount can't be refunded as I didn't know Hindi. Also takes lesson that being an Indian I should know Hindi. Tagged me a liar as he didn't know Tamil. @zomato not the way you talk to a customer," a user who goes by the handle "@Vikash67456607" tweeted. He also shared screenshots of his purported chat with the customer care agent in question.

The customer also urged Zomato to consider giving the agent proper training instead of terminating her. "Hello@zomato. Apart from the clarification regarding the issue, I request you to reconsider on recruiting back the employee rather than terminating. I suggest to give them a proper training instead. The legacy of Tamils is self-respect and not revenge,” he said in a tweet later.

In response, Zomato issued an apology in Tamil and English and also threw in the Tamil greeting of Vanakkam. The company said it has sacked the employee as her "behaviour was clearly against the principles of sensitivity that we train our agents for on a regular basis".

In a statement issued on Twitter, the company also said it was in the process of building a local Tamil call/support centre in Coimbatore in the state. "We understand food and language are core to any local culture and we take both of them seriously," it added.

However, Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal said hours later they were reinstating the agent as there was no reason to sack someone and that these things can be easily learned going forward. Defending the agent further, he said it was "an ignorant mistake" on the part of the employee.

In a series of tweets, Goyal lashed out at people criticising Zomato, stating that the "level of tolerance and chill" needs to be much higher in the country. "An ignorant mistake by someone in a support centre of a food delivery company became a national issue. The level of tolerance and chill in our country needs to be way higher than it is nowadays. Who's to be blamed here?” he said.

"And remember, our call centre agents are young people, who are at the start of their learning curves and careers. They are not experts on languages and regional sentiments. Nor am I, btw.”

“Having said that, we should all tolerate each other's imperfections. And appreciate each other's language and regional sentiments. Tamil Nadu – we love you. Just as much as we love the rest of the country. Not more, not less. We are all the same, as much as we are different,” he said.

To be sure, India does not have a national language.

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Saturday, November 27, 2021