The government has told food delivery platforms like Zomato and Swiggy to submit the current framework as well as a proposal on improving the consumer grievance redressal mechanism within 15 days.

The direction was issued during a meeting chaired by Department of Consumer Affairs secretary Rohit Kumar Singh with major e-commerce food business operators including Swiggy and Zomato as well as the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI).

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 government says.

One-fourth of the complaints registered against Zomato on the national consumer helpline were regarding "deficiency in services". About 18% of the complaints were regarding "delivery of defective/damage product". Grievances registered under "non/delay in delivery of product" constituted 11% of the overall complaints.

Similarly, about 22% of the complaints registered against Swiggy were regarding "deficiency of services". Around 17% of the grievances lodged against the food ordering portal were over "non/delay in delivery of product".

Major issues raised by the consumers on the national consumer helpline included veracity of the amount of delivery and packing charges and the reasonability of such charges, 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.

During the meeting, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) raised the issue of customer information not being shared by food delivery platforms with the restaurants which impacts their ability to serve the consumer needs better. A commission of around 20% is also charged by food ordering apps on each order, the restaurant lobby said.

The Department of Consumer Affairs directed e-commerce firms to transparently show 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," the government said, emphasising to respect the right of choice for a consumer.

Food delivery platforms were also advised to allow consumers the choice to share their contact information with the restaurants, if the consumers want so.

Online food delivery platforms said that prices of items are decided by the restaurants and 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.

As per NRAI, Swiggy commands an overwhelming market share of nearly 70% in the southern region, and in northern India it is Zomato that commands an overwhelming market share of 70%. Zomato and Swiggy collectively hold around 90-95% market share in almost all regional markets.

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