Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal said that delivery workers are not informed of the time constraints and will not be penalised or incentivised.

A person holding up the Zomato app on their phone
Atom Gig Economy Tuesday, March 22, 2022 - 14:33

On the heels of 10-minute grocery delivery, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal announced on Monday, March 21, that the company would soon be starting food delivery in ten minutes. This led to a furore online, with questions cropping up yet again on the safety of the delivery personnel delivering the food — and how it was possible for food to be completed and delivered in ten minutes. The idea of the 10-minute delivery was first put forth by a company that Zomato has invested in — Blinkit (formerly Grofers) — which received considerable backlash at the time. This model has now become more common among quick commerce players in the grocery space, with this being the USP of companies such as Zepto. 

At the start of his statement, Deepinder Goyal said that Zomato does not put any pressure on the delivery workers to deliver faster and that they are not informed of the promised time of delivery. “Time optimisation does not happen on the road, and does not put any lives at risk,” he said. Goyal claimed that customers are demanding quicker answers to their needs, and he felt that the 30-minute average delivery time of Zomato is too slow and will become obsolete. 

“The fulfilment of our quick delivery promise relies on a dense finishing stations’ network, which is located in close proximity to high-demand customer neighbourhoods. Sophisticated dish-level demand prediction algorithms, and future-ready in-station robotics are employed to ensure that your food is sterile, fresh and hot at the time it is picked by the delivery partner,” he said.

It should be noted that Blinkit was seriously cash-dry, was forced to shut down dark stores, lay off employees and was rescued by Zomato with the help of a loan last week. 

Read: Do you really need your groceries in 10 minutes?

Last week, Congress leader Karti Chidambaram urged the government to issue guidelines and regulate delivery companies such as Swiggy and Zomato to protect delivery agents from unrealistic targets and ensure their safety. Raising the issue during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Chidambaram spoke about the gig economy.

In India, there are 15 million workers in the gig economy and it is bound to grow to 25 million and even 100 million in the long term, the MP from Sivaganga said. Their valuation is based on a principle called turnaround time, the shorter the turnaround time of them providing the service, the greater the valuation is, he pointed out. "So we have delivery companies that promise food and groceries or any products within 10 minutes or 30 minutes but this delivery is not done by employees of the companies," Chidambaram said.

They drive a two-wheeler which is a personal vehicle but are doing a commercial delivery and carry a huge weight in the pillion seat or carrier, he said, adding there is no protection for these workers. "There is no classification whether these vehicles are for commercial delivery. Insurance companies refuse to give compensation if there is an accident. There have been accidents and there have been fatalities. In Zomato, a person died while making a delivery, so these delivery companies need to be regulated," he said.

Read: Food delivery workers tell their story on Twitter, say it's a losing game

Chidambaram asserted that they can't have these "unrealistic and unreasonable" delivery times which is putting the lives of these workers in great peril. Chidambaram reiterated his stand on Monday after Zomato’s announcement, to which Goyal replied to with a clarification. 

His clarification said that 10-minute delivery is as safe for its delivery workers as 30-minute delivery, and have a popular, standardised menu for specific nearby locations. He added that there are no penalties or incentives for driver partners for late or on-time deliveries, and they are not informed about the time limit. “We are building new food stations to enable the 10-minute service for specific customer locations only.” Items such as bread omelette, poha, coffee, chai, biryani, momos and Maggi will be delivered, he said.

Read: The ‘customer is king’ motto has invisibilised the food delivery rider

With PTI inputs

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