There has never been a better time to be a lazy foodie in India than now. With a new app launching each week promising to deliver sumptuously, mouth watering delicacies at your doorstep rubbing the smartphone each time feels like unleashing a genie with a hot pack. Despite the plethora of options, the ground reality is far from juicy!
The early pioneers of food delivery were pizza companies that offered a 30-minute hot-or-not promise, but I am yet to get a free pizza. I can understand that in a country like India, bad roads and traffic make it tough to meet the stringent delivery schedule. And also I do not want the poor delivery boys risking their lives and others on the way. To me, a reasonable waiting time would be 45 minutes (within a 3–4 km radius), given the fact Indian delicacies take a longer time to cook as compared to tossing dough into an oven. But nobody wants to respect the customer.
I have had several bad experiences, but I would like to point out to three of them that made me cringe and roll my eyes with a WTF plastered on my forehead. I have no ill-will against any of these restaurants and do not wish to malign them by my comments. I am merely stating my experience.
I wonder why a brand as popular as Dominoes has a pathetic online ordering system. There is a dominoes outlet about 1.5 km from my house. I ordered online and soon enough got a call from a branch that is 3 km away saying they have heavy orders and will not be able to deliver in the next 45 minutes. I explained to the person that he could re-route my order to the branch nearest to me, but he said it cannot be done. I cancelled the order and dialled into the customer care. Again routed to the branch further away from me!
If Dominoes sent my order a bit far, Faasos wanted a gold medal for apathyand routed my order to an outlet at least 7–8 km away. This is despite me writing my address clearly down to the pin code. The worst part is they called me half an hour after preparing the food and informing they will be late to deliver. Seriously! Were they playing peek-a-boo with my order? Again I cancelled the order and hope I will get the refund back in a week.
MK Dabbawala (Mast Kalandar)
Almost every Mast Kalandar branch I have ordered food has a notorious reputation to not deliver food before I pass out in hunger. Recently they have launched the MK Dabbawala service hoping to cash in on the office crowd ordering lunch takeaways. Despite my concerns, I ordered lunch to be delivered to my office. There is an outlet in the mall adjacent to my IT park and wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes to walk to my office. Guess where they routed my order? To a branch 6 km away. After explaining to the restaurant to re-route my order, I was told I would get a callback. I didn’t for an hour and fifteen minutes. Frustrated I ended up having lunch elsewhere. Then the delivery boy calls and asks where he should come. I directed him upwards to hell.
In all these scenarios, the one thing in common is a hare-brained routing algorithm. A monkey throwing darts on the map might have better accuracy.
Sometimes it’s the restaurant owners who take their sweet time to deliver. I hope they realise I have a credit card in my hand and not a begging bowl. I do not mind paying extra as long as I get quality service. Receiving groceries an hour late is acceptable because a pack of biscuits isn’t going to melt butfood needs to be delivered hot. Period.
So my suggestion to the startups and established restaurants in the food ordering and delivery business are
1. For god’s sake learn to read a map. When Ola and Uber are able to pick me up in minutes why not use my GPS location and then route to the nearest branch. All the examples I mentioned were done via the mobile app. Heck, even desktop browsers have reasonable accuracy in determining location.
2. Please do not treat your customers like beggars. You are not doing them a service, they are by visiting you. Honour the time commitment.
Whichever service solves these hassles, gets my money.
What were some of your experiences while ordering food online and are the new age food delivery services making it better or worse?