So, just when I was just getting ready to have a nice lazy Sunday afternoon post a nice long run (for real), I opened up one of the multitude of apps available to the Indian consumer these days, called Swiggy, which got my install cause of its USP of owning the delivery chain for timely deliveries plus no minimums. Swiggy has raised at least 3 publicly disclosed venture rounds at a time when money is tough for the food-tech operators.
Unlucky for Swiggy, lucky for the restaurant, uncomfortable with an element of fun for me – I decided to order myself a ‘The Green Lantern’ sandwich from this place called Big Fat Sandwich only because me and a friend happened to discuss this place just the previous night. Usually, I am the one to use the COD option because you never know what these apps might / might not bring to your doorstep but this time around I decided to go with the Paytm (go ‘War on Cash’) option to make this quick. I am pasting screenshots along with the timestamp on the top for everyone to follow the timeline but do not judge me by my eating & ordering habits which are being disclosed in this post.
The menu in the app said my sandwich was for Rs. 220/- and at checkout the app added some taxes to take the total to Rs. 260/-. The whole ordering experience was quite seamless and smooth. I was updated at regular intervals about the location of the delivery person, when my food was picked up and given an estimate as to when my food would be arriving (aren’t they spoiling the Indian consumer to the core). So the delivery guy comes and leaves the food with my guard. I notice the nice packaging and jump right into my food (with my new Netflix subscription of course). So the restaurant included a copy of their menu along with my food (now here is when it becomes really unlucky for Swiggy) I decide to take a look at their menu to see what I might want to indulge in sometime in the near future if they managed to do this sandwich well. To my complete surprise, the menu card says Rs. 220 inclusive of all taxes for ‘The Green Lantern’ (great choice of name; just wishing DC Comics did a better on-screen adaptation of this awesome superhero).
This is when I asked my guard if the delivery person (Mr. Ravi Kumar was in charge of the delivery according to a message from the app thanks to live tracking and a call from him) left any bill because there wasn’t any with the food that came, and he assured me that they did not leave a bill.
When I raised this issue with Swiggy over email and social media, they said they don’t charge anything extra and put it on the restaurant. So I decided to just be a quick pseudo Sherlock and call up the restaurant to verify that the total thing should amount to just 220 or was it in fact 260 (including some magical taxation by Swiggy for the additional 40). They said it shouldn’t be more than the 220 mentioned on their menu.
(Btw there goes my ‘Netflix and Chill’ time cause of all this alternative entertainment)
So they went for their ‘deep dive’ as mentioned in their last message to me. Things which happened next (notice timestamps on the top bar again) – Some restaurants became ‘non serviceable due to heavy demand’ (never seen this happen in last 3 months, only increase in delivery time but never ‘non serviceable’), they all come back shortly after and voila the price of the same sandwich from the same restaurant has been changed to reflect the real price. Now it stands to be verified if they have done this for other restaurants as well or not.
One of their incompetent manager kept calling me until late at night even when I said I was out and sitting with someone (Btw, great Sunday night since you asked). His last call was quite awesome – “How do you think we should solve this” and he kept asking me to mind my language while calling me at odd hours when Swiggy should really be minding their accounts. (To Swiggy’s management / disaster management team – An year’s worth of doorstep Frappucinos would be awesome and rest can be decided by the relevant authorities for such cases of deception, cheating and lalaland taxation). Thus far – they have not even offered to refund this extra amount they charged nor consulted with their seniors / legal team (if they have one) / accountants (if they should even keep one when committing such fraud to disguise additional charges in taxes) to come up with a real solution to this massive mess up. Their unapologetic support and social media team have done a great job of copy-pasting those premade responses which I feel any open source AI bot will do a better job at in the near future. (Protip: Apologizing and accepting the mistake soothes most issues – in business and in personal life).
All this makes you wonder if these ‘hyper-funded’ startups have any semblance of investor & internal audits in place or is it just about the whole vanity metrics and providing instant gratification to the consumers story every single time you go out to raise. Anyway, I just wanted to do my bit in sharing this (along with my extremely ill / casual writing skills as always), just so everyone can keep a lookout whenever you decide to fire up that app to avail some of those discounts and all of that convenience next. Swiggy – See you at the consumer forum? #SwiggySwindle.
Editor’s Note: We have reached out to Swiggy for their official response on the matter.
Post publishing this article, we received following reply from Swiggy:
[Disclosure: This is a guest post written by Utsav Somani. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his personal capacity and do not in anyway represent the views of the any organization or that of Inc42.]