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Lawyer on fast delivered chicken dish Zomato, eatery fined Rs 55,000
The Times of India, July 6, 2019

Nagpur: In a first of its kind verdict, Additional District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum in Pune has slapped Rs. 55,000 cost on food delivery service provider Zomato along with a hotel for supplying non-vegetarian food to a city-based lawyer, who was observing fast, twice instead of vegetarian food he had ordered.

While partly allowing Shanmukh Deshmukh’s complaint, a bench of presiding member Shubhangi Dunakhe and member Anil Jawalekar directed Pune-based Zomato office and Gurgaon based head office along with Hotel Preet Punjabi Swad, located in Hnjewadi of Pune, to pay the entire amount within 45 days or pay it with 10% interest thereafter. Of the amount, Rs. 50,000 is to be paid towards deficiency in service and the remaining for physical and mental harassment.

Zomato regional manager Vipul Sinha told TOI that he wasn’t aware of any such order while its spokesperson didn’t respond to the calls by this correspondent.

Deshmukh, who works in the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court, had ordered paneer butter masala from Hotel Preet Punjabi Swad using Zomato app on May 31last hear when he was in Pune for official work. Being a devotee of Gajanan Maharaj, he use to oberve fast on Thursdays throughout the day. To break the fast in the evening, he had ordered paneer butter masal dish using the Zomato app. A parcel was delivered by an executive at the hostel where he was staying. Later, Deshmukh asked the housemaid to serve him the dish. Soon he realized that the dish was not the one he had ordered, but butter chicken. Since the curry for both the dishes look alike, he didn’t realize that it was a non-vegetarian dish.

He immediately called the Zomato delivery boy who had dropped the parcel and apprised him of the wrong delivery. The delivery boy informed him that Zomato has no role to play as the executives don’t open the parcel and only carry out delivery service. Deshmukh then contacted Hotel Preet Punjabi Swad manager who assured him to replace the parcel with the dish he had ordered for.

Accordingly, second delivery boy brought a new parcel to Deshmukh. The receipt also mentioned delivery of paneer butter masala. However, on opening the parcel, Deshmukh was shocked to find butter chicken inside again.

A couple of days later, Deshmukh through lawyer Sandesh Gundage issued legal notices to the food delivery chain and the hotel for compensation for hurting his religious sentiments by deliberately sending non-vegetarian food, but none of them responded. He then knocked the forum’s doors, demanding a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh and Rs 1 lakh for harassment. He also submitted a recording of his conversation with the both respondents.

Zomato replied to the forum that Deshmukh’s complaint was wrong and deliberately made to defame the company. It told the judges that they work only as online delivery chain and entire responsibility of supplying wrong dish lies with the hotel Zomato further said that it had refunded the amount paid by the complainant, who is misleading the forum. The hotel on its part, however admitted the mistake of sending wrong dish twice.

The judge observed that there was an agreement between both respondents regarding food delivery to the customers. They ruled that both Zomato and he hotel are guilty of deficiency in service as per the Consumer Protection Act. By supplying no-vegetarian food to a customer when he was observing fast and that too when he had ordered veg food, the respondents have caused mental and physical harassment, they said before allowing the complaint.

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