Food delivery executives brave abusive customers, eateries

Abuse from customers, hotel managers and fake orders have become a norm
Last Updated 27 May 2021, 20:36 IST

For food delivery workers, long working hours, lack of information on whether a customer is Covid positive, abusive customers and unfair treatment by companies has exacerbated the stress caused by the pressure to work amid a raging pandemic.

Two months after a food delivery executive suffered harassment and abuse due to a false complaint by an Instagram influencer, workers told DH nothing has changed for them.

In the latest incident, Mansoor Ahmed, a part-time executive with Zomato, went to deliver food to LBS Nagar in Kaggadasapura on Sunday night. Anand, the customer, had provided the wrong location, but abused Ahmed and cancelled the order and even filed a police complaint.

On Thursday, Ahmed was shocked when he was summoned by the Jeevan Bima Nagar police for an enquiry. “Luckily, I had the voice recording of the entire conversation, which helped me come out unscathed,” Ahmed told DH.

The recorded conversation shows Anand abused Ahmed. However, Zomato has suspended the worker’s login. “I am a part-time worker with not a single complaint for months. Without any explanation, I have been suspended. Why should I be denied my earnings for two to three days if I have done no wrong?” he said.

A spokesperson for Zomato said Ahmed’s suspension will be revoked once police clarify that there is no objection to employing him. “If found innocent, we will also compensate the partner for the days he was suspended,” she said.

‘Abuse a norm now’

Srinivas G, vice-president of the United Food Delivery Partners’ Union, said abuse from customers, hotel managers and fake orders have become a norm.

“After an order is placed, restaurants update the app aggregators that the food is ready for pick up when they had not even started preparing it. Customers who receive the update, start calling the delivery executives repeatedly and use filthy language many times. We speed through the traffic to reach customers who complain of delay. This has led to quarrels in restaurants and with customers,” Srinivas said.

Harish, a native of Hassan, said food aggregators have not been provided any protective gear. “Some people leave notes in the app, seeking a non-contact delivery. But people opting for cash-on-delivery is normal even now. I come home every day fearing that I may be infected. I have not been given a mask, gloves or sanitiser,” he said.

Vaccination drive

The two leading companies, Swiggy and Zomato, have started a vaccination drive for the delivery partners, but many workers said they were unable to access it due to many reasons.

“One company says that the vaccination drive will end on May 30. None of the persons in our group of 130 executives has got the vaccine. We work odd hours and have immediate commitments that require attention. Multiple vaccination centres with timely information may help,” said Harish, a delivery executive.

(Published 27 May 2021, 19:27 IST)

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