The Chandigarh state consumer disputes redressal commission (SCDRC) has asked Zomato Pvt Ltd to provide one free meal and pay a compensation of Rs10,000 to its customer for deficiency in service and unfair trade practice.
In an order passed earlier this month
, the bench of justice Raj Shekhar Attri (president) and Rajesh K Arya (member) says, "...when the respondents (Zomato) charged Rs10 extra for 'on-time or free' campaign launched by them from the appellant, they were expected to deliver the same on time and in not doing so and simultaneously, cancelling the order on their own amounted to deficiency in rendering service and unfair trade practice on their part."
"In case they were not able to deliver food items timely as per the 'on-time or free' campaign, then they should not have charged Rs10 extra for the same, which further contributed to unfair trade practice on their part. In given circumstances, we are of the concerted view that such like an alluring advertisement or campaigns should not have been published or launched by the respondent, in case they cannot fulfil the same," the order says.
In March 2020, Chandigarh-based Ajay Kumar Sharma had ordered a pizza from Zomato and paid Rs287.70 inclusive of taxes and Rs10 for 'on-time or free' scheme. However, till 10.30pm, he did not receive the pizza. After that, he received a message from Zomato saying that his order had been declined and the refund process was initiated.
While his money was refunded, Mr Sharma prayed to the district consumer commission to ask Zomato either to fulfil its promise or take back its promotional advertisement, 'kabhi to late ho jaata'. He also sought compensation for harassment. However, his complaint was dismissed by the district commission stating that the refund was initiated just about 15 minutes after cancelling the order.
SCDRC observed that, despite charging Rs287.70 for Italy Treat Pizza as ordered by Mr Sharma, Zomato failed to deliver it on time. It says, "It is not the case that delivery was made late. Had it been the case of the respondents, the matter would have been different but in the instant case, they cancelled the order of the appellant on their own without giving it a single thought that how the said cancellation would affect the appellant both mentally and physically. Thus, the appellant was deprived of food at late night hours, which he specifically ordered for his children."
"The feelings of the appellant would have definitely got hurt, when he came to know about the cancellation of the order by the respondents on their own and at that time, how he would have, with heavy heart, told the same to his children who were already waiting for the meal at late night hours. Had there been any difficulty in delivering the item at the relevant time, the respondents should not have made the booking, which they later-on cancelled. Thus, grave deficiency in rendering service is attributable on the part of the respondents on this account," it added.
Further, SCDRC noted that when Zomato charged Rs10 extra for 'on-time or free' campaign, it was expected to deliver the food on time. "... in not doing so and simultaneously, cancelling the order on their own amounted to deficiency in rendering service and unfair trade practice on their part," it says.
Setting aside the order passed by the district commission, the Chandigarh SCDRC held Zomato responsible for deficiency in rendering service and for indulgence in unfair trade practice and asked it to pay a compensation of Rs10,000 and provide or deliver one free meal to Mr Sharma within 30 days.