KOCHI: With dining-in prohibited in hotels and restaurants due to the partial lockdown in the state since Tuesday to check the spread of Covid-19, customers depending on online food delivery apps are finding themselves being fleeced by restaurateurs.Since hotel owners can sell food through takeaway counters and with the help of online food delivery apps, many hoteliers have tied up with the online facility. A large number of people, including even families, has also started using the apps, especially after the partial but stringent lockdown came into effect in the state.
Users of the food delivery app said hotels and restaurants listed on the apps are “looting people by charging exorbitant prices” for food items. “I live in a room that has no cooking facility. My only option is to buy food from hotels.
Now, with the curbs, I can only buy food through online aggregators. However, there is a huge difference in the online and offline prices of various dishes. I have to shell out almost double the offline price of the items to purchase food online. It is unfair,” said Akshay A, an employee of a private company.
A reality check done by TNIE in different parts of the city found that hotels are charging more than 20 per cent for the food alone. If a person wants to buy food worth `100, he or she has to spend an additional `60, which includes delivery charges and taxes.
“The number of people coming to the hotels has indeed come down drastically after the Covid pandemic. However, the number of online orders has increased a lot. On Monday alone, I delivered nearly 30 food packets to various customers. We are also getting several complaints from buyers about the high prices charged by hotels for online delivery, “ said a delivery executive of Zomato on the condition of anonymity.
KHRA BLAMES AGGREGATORS
The Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association (KHRA) passed the buck to online food aggregators for the exorbitant rate charged on food delivery. “We are forced to charge extra for the food. Food aggregators charge nearly 30 per cent commission on each order.
We are indeed getting some orders online. If we sell the food for the same rate as the offline price, we will be unable to survive,” said P G Manoharan, district secretary of KHRA. Manoharan said KHRA is in the process of developing its own Android application to prevent overpricing. “Already, we have started the test run of the Rezoy mobile app in Kochi. The customers will not have to spend extra if they are ordering through the app. Some technical glitches need to be rectified. After that, we will launch the Rezoy app across the state,” he added.
Collector orders probe
District Collector S Suhas said an instruction has been given to the Legal Metrology Department to submit a report in this regard. “Appropriate action will be taken against such restaurants. We cannot allow hotels and restaurants to fleece the public,” said the collector.