China’s restaurant meal delivery companies find themselves once again in the soup. Following repeated instances of their couriers causing accidents with their high-speed and reckless operation of electric bicycles, the latest public backlash is now erupting over the collateral environmental damage they inflict, as well as concerns over the cleanliness of their fare and whether it may harbor interlopers.
Case in point: One Ms. Sun ordered delivery of an egg curry and bacon-mashed potato dish from a Yummie House curry restaurant in Beijing’s high-tech Zhongguancun district. She bit into a staple and strips of plastic packaging in her mashed potatoes, then discovered a dead cockroach in her rice. Yummy indeed.
Cases of this kind are starting to proliferate as rapidly as the roaches themselves breed, and a perception is arising that these courier companies are not only delivering dead roaches as protein additives, but also live roaches that, in the biblical phrase, “go forth and multiply.” Consumers who complain to their customer service hotlines get the sense of being subjected to a runaround that produces little tangible and certainly no satisfactory result, and many come away with the belief that these delivery firms take no follow-up action against offending restaurants, and really do not care about the quality of the food they deliver, only its quantity.
A second wave of public reaction is mounting over the ecological impact of their activities.
A non-governmental organization (NGO), filed suit against China’s big three meal delivery services, Meituan, Eleme and Baidu Waimai on Sept. 5, as DoNews reported. The NGO, Chongqing Green Volunteers Association, has sued the three separately in a Beijing court.
The association alleges the three defendants’ business model is defective in that it fails to offer customers the option of declining disposable eating utensils, which it includes by default, and argues this not only wastes resources, but also harms the environment. The court found that the preliminary evidence showed the plaintiff made a prima facie case of harm to the public weal and accepted the case, and informed Beijing’s environmental protection bureau and administrative police to that effect. The case still awaits trial, but whatever its outcome, the implications of this sort of public interest vigilantism alone hold forth staggering future ramifications for China’s industry and commerce.
Keywords: Meal Delivery