India’s leading food delivery company Zomato landed in a soup after one of its employees informed a customer, during a grievance redressal conversation, that everyone should know Hindi as it is the national language. The exchange soon triggered a Twitter storm with many slamming the company for imposing the language on customers.
Now, Zomato has issued a public apology for the incident with detailed statements in Tamil and English, and informed the customer that they have “terminated the agent for their negligence towards our diverse culture”.
On 18 October, a Zomato customer identified as Vikash tweeted screenshots of his conversation with the company executive. The screenshots indicate that Vikash was having an issue with his order and had asked the executive to check with the restaurant. The Zomato employee informed Vikash that they had tried calling the restaurant five times but wasn’t able to communicate with the staff due to the “language barrier”.
The customer then said that if Zomato is available in Tamil Nadu, they should hire a Tamil-speaking person to understand the language and went on to ask the executive to contact the outlet to initiate the refund. In reply, the executive said, “For your kind information Hindi is our national language. So it is very common that everybody should know Hindi little bit.”
The executive then apologised for the trouble and added there was no way they could compensate the customer for the unfortunate incident.
Before long, the customer took to Twitter to raise the issue. “Ordered food in zomato and an item was missed. Customer care says amount can’t be refunded as I didn’t know Hindi. Also takes lesson that being an Indian I should know Hindi. Tagged me a liar as he didn’t know Tamil. @zomato not the way you talk to a customer,” he tweeted.
With more than 4,500 likes and 2,500 retweets, it soon went viral and #Rejectzomato began to trend on the microblogging site with more than 20k tweets.
Netizens were quick to question the food delivery firm. They joined Vikash in asking them to issue an apology. Dharmapuri MP Dr Senthilkumar asked when Hindi was made the national language.
Responding to Vikash’s complaint, the company’s customer support page Zomato Care said that the incident was “unacceptable” and promised to check out the company statement, which was as follows.
The company later insisted that the employee’s remarks did not represent Zomato’s stance on language and diversity. A Tamil version of the app is in the works, it said.