Is Zomato Using Fraud Practices To Succeed In Its Pilot Project Of ‘Intercity Legends’?

Zomato is known for starting many projects with hoopla and then abruptly ending them. Grocery delivery and nutraceuticals are examples of failed experiments. Given its past, it remains to be seen whether the company can deliver on its promises on Intercity Legends, especially given the scope of the project being minimal.

Online Food Delivery Platform Zomato is in trouble as a customer sued it for delivering food too fast! Shocked, right? How can a customer sue a platform famous for its quick delivery service? In the end, the customer also wants the same. But suppose the delivery between 500 kilometres is done in 30 minutes. In that case, the customer may be shocked that any supernatural power is delivering the food, or maybe the legendary ‘Intercity Legends’ service may be a fraudulent practice running in the company.

A customer in Gurgaon, Sourav Mall, has filed a lawsuit in Delhi’s Saket court, claiming that Zomato’s quick food delivery from a shop in Lucknow, located 500 km away, is questionable. Sourav Mall said that Zomato took only 30 minutes to deliver the food from the Lucknow shop to Gurgaon. In his complaint, Sourav Mall alleges that Zomato’s speedy delivery seems fraudulent and unfair.

He asserts that this practice is intended to mislead and deceive users who rely on Zomato for food delivery. The court of civil judge Umesh Kumar has ordered the summons of Zomato’s defendants and the notice of application. The case will be heard on 20 March 2024. 

Sourav Mall questioned the reliability of Zomato‘s fast service, specifically the Zomato Legends segment. This service allows users to order food from famous shops in cities other than the customer’s place of residence. On October 14, 2023, Sourav ordered four dishes from the Legends service. While three dishes were from shops in his place of residence, Delhi, one was from Lucknow. Despite the considerable distance between the restaurants and Sourav’s residential location, Zomato promised a hot and quick delivery within an estimated time of 20-45 minutes.

Mr Sourav, therefore, states that it is inexplicable how Zomato can manage delivery from iconic restaurants to delivery locations in Gurgaon/Noida within half an hour, that too allegedly hot meals. Such representation to users, customers, and/or patrons of Zomato is intended to deceive the public. 

Mr Mall, represented by advocates  Anurag Anand, Tishampati Sen, and Biyanka Bhatia, clearly shows that the food was not actually being transported from the particular city but was being stored at various places/warehouses of Zomato. This raises the question, ‘What guarantees the food is prepared fresh and hot?

Moreover, the individual also alleged that the food was delivered in Zomato packaging, not the restaurant partner’s.

Why is the food not delivered in the original packaging of the restaurant partner? Further, the paper bag displaying ‘Zomato Legends’ had promises such as “freshly prepared”, “travels using mobile refrigeration technology”, ”not frozen”, and “no preservatives added” written on it.

A series of such compromising practices.

The customer is not the only one who found this misleading. The media house Indian Express, in their article titled ‘Zomato customer in Gurgaon shocked after he gets ‘fresh’ kebab from Lucknow in 30 minutes, moves court’ dated February 12, 2024, mentions that they tried using the service and found that food ordered from Jaipur would be delivered to Gurgaon in merely 29 minutes!!

Zomato gives good food

However, Zomato’s blog in 2022 claims the ‘Legends’ order will reach you the next day. The blog then adds that leveraging Zomato’s incredible network of restaurant partners and delivery persons, a deep understanding of food tech, and insights into what the customers love, legendary foodstuff will be delivered from across India the next day. Hence, it seems that Zomato hasn’t read its blog before functioning, or the blogs are just written to exemplify Zomato’s reputation; therefore, the service ‘Intercity Legends’ needs to answer such claims.

This is not the first time this service, ‘Intercity Legends,’ has been under scanner. Inventiva published a piece of content titled ‘What Went Wrong With Zomato In Last 2 Years?’ on January 5, 2023, highlighting how such a kind of service is doubtful. Can Zomato work on a diverse range of legendary foodstuffs that pass the packaging, storage, and travel safety standards that define its image as a large competitive vertical?

The ‘Intercity Legends’ may include tastes from all over the country, such as biryani from Hyderabad, famous kebabs from Lucknow, spongy rasgullas from Kolkata, delicious Mysore Pak from Bengaluru, butter chicken from Old Delhi, pyaaz kachori from Jaipur, or any legendary category of cuisine. 

This is an excellent concept. However, it may not be as sound as it sounds. CEO of Zomato, Mr Goyal, once wrote in a blog post that all types of foods have undergone lab testing to make sure that the aroma, texture, and taste remain of superior quality; however, food and beverages industry veteran K S Narayanan believes it is an uphill task. Restaurant meals have a short shelf life as they are freshly made and eaten. This food comes in 30-60 minutes and is ready to eat within a few hours, even in the metropolis. How the freshness can be maintained if the food has to travel a distance of 500 km or more is a point of question.

According to Zomato, the restaurant prepares fresh meals and then packs them in reusable and tamper-proof packets to ensure its safety throughout flight travel. State-of-the-art mobile refrigeration technology preserves food without freezing or adding preservatives. Once you’ve received your order, you may microwave, air-fry, or pan-fry it like any other item from the refrigerator.

Can it provide the same flavour and experience as it does at the cooking location if establishments send food to Zomato in a hot state, which the company then freezes, transports to a new location, distributes cold, and asks the consumer to reheat? If the taste is not the same, it will not evoke memories in the consumer, and the experience of eating a famous meal will not thrill the customer, so they will not return to this category the next time.

The amount of things that can be produced using this paradigm, as well as the total accessible market, may not be as large as they appear. A substantial number of legendary meals will be eliminated, and the sector will most likely remain tiny, with limited possibility for growth. This again points to the credibility of the ‘Intercity Legends’ segment of Zomato!

Many iconic dishes will be deleted, and the market will likely stay a niche with little room for expansion. Furthermore, successful businesses rapidly migrate into new cities in this era of cloud kitchens and food brand aggregators. Many authentic, local cuisines and brands have already built a presence in the urban areas where Zomato plans to provide this service. So, can ‘Intercity Legends’ survive in such a competitive space? 


These points highlight why surviving the ‘Intercity Legends’ is an uphill task. Is Zomato unable to find ways to make this pilot project a success? Hence, it seems that the method of serving legendary dishes from several kilometres away is done by proactively storing them in nearby warehouses.

How successful can this venture be?

Zomato is known for starting similar programmes with hoopla and then abruptly ending them. Grocery delivery and nutraceuticals are examples of failed experiments. Given its past, it remains to be seen whether the company can deliver on its promises, especially given the scope of the project. 

Therefore, the case filed by the customer has a valid point about how food prepared 500 km away can be delivered in just 30 minutes!!



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