After facing severe backlash for delivering ‘moral science’ lectures to social media users instead of food, food aggregator Zomato seems to be fighting a losing battle against its customers and partners.
As their woes continue, a restaurateur and Indian School of Business alumnus, Raghunandan S Prasad has now written a stinging open letter to the Zomato founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal, who is now the newfound hero of Indian liberal-secular mafia.
In the scathing letter, Prasad has referred Zomato founder Deepinder Goyal as a “glorified broker” and accused him of taking credit for their product. A few days back, Deepinder Goyal had invited the anger of restaurant owners after he had called them a ‘bargain hunters’ while threatening them of consequences if they did not withdraw from a ‘movement’ of logging out from Zomato’s services. Restaurant owners across the country had started to delist from the Zomato Gold program saying that deep discount offered by the food delivery company is hurting their businesses.
In his letter, Prasad wrote, “I remember in your early days when you came on board and started getting people to rate my work. Imagine if I got the public to rate your CEO or your employees on how they did their job.”
“It’s nice that you got customers actively involved with performance improvements but that is largely an internal matter,” Prasad continued, “we have our own mechanisms to get their feedback and although customer satisfaction drives the industry you have no right to display the matter with so much scrutiny and bias to public eyes.”
Prasad said that he knew things would go wrong when Zomato changed their rating system a few years ago. Prasad said that he had sent an email then asking them to explain their new rating system. He accused Zomato of giving a vague response mentioning a percentile grade system with “complex algorithms” that were too intricate to explain to ‘lowly restaurateurs’.
“You were setting the rules for the industry. No one would take your app seriously if beloved places were given a lower rating. No one cares about a new place though. Customers can just write it off as a shitty place and not give a damn, and you can, in turn, make money from new restaurants who want to change that perspective by advertising with you,” added Raghunandan Prasad.
“Your response to the rating query was cold and indifferent. Much like the way you responded now, to the gold fiasco. Until yesterday you rubbished off our protest and when you found that we logged out, you sent a threatening mail to “partners” (mind you we are not your partners. We are your customers, you are a glorified broker who takes all the credit for our product which we so laboriously sell to our actual customers),” Prasad warned Deepinder Goyal for his infamous arrogance.
Prasad recalled the arrogance of Zomato, stating that while all other aggregators were apologizing and feeling guilty for hurting the restaurant fraternity, they tightened the rules of their delivery platform imposing huge penalties on customers/restaurants if they didn’t obey their rules. “All in the name of serving your customers? Sorry they never became your customers. You are merely a delivery agency. It is not your product. Just do your job and deliver the food. Try not to eat it on the way,” he advised referring to the recent controversy involving Zomato delivery guy who got caught after eating the food meant for a customer.
Questioning the ethics of Zomato and its CEO Deepinder Goyal, Prasad wrote, “You sent a cold and threatening mail about how there would be consequences for joining the movement, you said we had to give a 45 days notice. You ensured legal action against us for opposing you”.
Elaborating on how Zomato was brazening it out, Prasad said, “You called us out for cartelising? What about you? You created this whole price war and mess.”
“Despite your enormous funding you haven’t made a single buck in profit ever and you question us? Tell us how to run our business and ask us to reduce our operating costs?” Prasad asserted.
He added that they were customers of Zomato as they paid Zomato Rs.45,000 for the gold subscription. Continuing his ire, he said they should forget the fact that Zomato was providing them with a service.
Slamming Goyal for not honouring his word, Prasad revealed that Zomato had promised them Gold service would be a very exclusive service and would have a choice few customers and restaurants in the program, but the food delivery company did not comply with it.
“For the seller to be so contractually binding means only one thing. You need us way more than we need you. Today after your investors got wind of the shit storm, and ordered you to shut gold down or change it drastically you sent us all “personal mails” asking to reconcile.”
Prasad expressed his worry regarding Zomato’s next big scheme Infinity Dining which will hurt them even more.
“Zomato is a leech. Sucking the life of the industry, it needs to be deep-fried and dumped in the bin because we actually take our food seriously,” he thrashed Zomato.
“You are not fooling anyone. You are not dealing with sheep. We can smell a wolf from a mile away. A whole fraternity has been pissed off across the entire country! And you have the audacity to call us out for being inconsiderate to our customers?! Zomato has never waited a table in its life or cooked a meal for guests, we know what it means to serve and care for our guests.”
Prasad said, “We are generations old, we have given employment to millions. You on the other hand, throw your poor delivery boys under the bus when they ask for some basic rights. Mass fire employees for not meeting your targets.”
The remaining text of Prasad’s letter to Goyal read, “We don’t let our employees do anything they dont want to and take care of their interests and beliefs, something you dont seem to understand.” He seems to be referring to protests by Zomato’s Hindu and Muslim delivery persons refusing to carry beef and pork respectively in Kolkata.
“You say we have free choice but you have gamed the system with your ratings which make us compete with our neighbors and for a spot in your “collections” which we pay to get on to. You have pitted us against each other and manipulated an entire industry.”
“We have been around since your founders were in diapers”, Prasad added.
“We have grown a whole community and fed the people with love, not discounts. Your discount addiction schemes and promise of profits wont last.”
“You haven’t made any profits yet, we cannot take you seriously. You are not really here to help the industry.”
“The two things you are wealthy in, is data ( which we unwittingly feed you ) and borrowed money. All for you to burn. And you scare us with it. You push us to accept your terms because deep pockets and knowledge is powerful. But you abused it, made the very people who feed you fight against each other in the chase for better sales and jump through your rating hoops.”
Prasad ended the letter by saying, “Soon our customers too will see you for what you really are. Your angel investors might not be so generous after that.”