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Centre Directs E-Commerce Food Business Operators to Submit Proposal within 15 Days

The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) raised the issue of e-commerce FBOs failing to share customer information with restaurants, limiting their ability to better serve consumer needs. Furthermore, the latter determines and collects delivery fees. In addition, the online FBOs charge a commission of around 20% on each order.

Shivam Dwivedi
E-Commerce Food Business
E-Commerce Food Business

Within 15 days, Department of Consumer Affairs has directed major e-commerce food business operators (FBOs) to provide the current framework as well as a proposal for improving the consumer grievance redressal mechanism.

The directive was issued during a meeting with major e-commerce food business operators chaired by Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Rohit Kumar Singh, to discuss pertinent issues affecting consumers in this sector.

Major issues raised by consumers on the DoCA's National Consumer Helpline were discussed during the meeting, including the veracity of the amount of delivery and packing charges and the reasonableness of such charges, the disparity between the price and quantity of food items shown on the platform and those actually offered by the restaurant, the inconsistency between the delivery time shown to consumers when 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.

National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) raised the issue of e-commerce FBOs failing to share customer information with restaurants, limiting their ability to better serve consumer needs. Furthermore, the latter determines and collects delivery fees. In addition, online FBOs charge a commission of around 20% on each order.

The Department directed e-commerce FBOs to show consumers the breakdown of all charges included in the order amount, such as delivery charges, packaging charges, taxes, surge pricing, and so on. Platforms must also display individual consumer reviews transparently rather than only aggregated reviews. It was emphasized that a consumer's right to choose should be respected, and e-commerce FBOs were advised to allow consumers to share their contact information with restaurants if they so desired.

The meeting was attended by major online food service providers such as Swiggy and Zomato, as well as the NRAI. Anupam Mishra, Joint Secretary, and Nidhi Khare, Additional Secretary, also attended the meeting.

The e-commerce FBOs discovered that the prices of food items are set by the restaurants, and they have a grievance redressal mechanism in place, which could be improved given the volume and nature of consumer complaints.

During the meeting, stakeholders agreed on the importance of closely addressing consumer grievances and developing a robust grievance redressal framework. They promised that the concerns raised during the meeting would be addressed and that the proposed improved and transparent framework would be shared with the Department within 15 days.

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