The Zomato Assault Case Has Lessons For Each One Of Us

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The Zomato delivery case has opened discourse on elitism and privilege in India. Aren’t we all guilty of jumping to conclusion hastily? When a customer said that she was assaulted by a delivery man, or when someone alleges that a certain shopkeeper or waiters at a restaurant are rude, doesn’t that instil doubt in our hearts? However, as events continue to unfold in the Zomato case, so must the conversation from multiple perspectives.

So here are some takeaways from the Zomato case that we all need to mull over:

Social media allegation is serious business: Social media has emerged as the new grievance box for consumers worldwide. Rather than getting on the phone with customer care, or filing an official complaint with the consumer department, many people prefer to post their problems with a service provider on social media first.

There are many reasons for that. The response from the other party is much faster, plus there is increased visibility for those who seek it. Also, other people who may have faced a similar problem may rally behind you and help you get a refund or an apology from the service provider. But does this mean raising allegations on social media comes with zero accountability on a consumer’s part? Especially, in cases that concern allegations as serious as physical assault or abusive behaviour?

When the Bengaluru-based beauty influencer shared her compliant via videos, would she have ever imagined that an FIR will be filed in her name one day? Not giving anyone clean chit in the case, because it is still being investigated, this case is indeed a lesson for customers. We should know what we are signing up for and what possible consequences could it incur for us, no matter whether we are in right or wrong, in the case.

Do we feel entitled to be “right” as customers? The customer is the king/queen. A customer is always right. Customer bhagwan hota hai. The customer has been put on such a high pedestal by service providers that today most of us feel entitled to be right. We feel entitled to a full refund if our food is late by 15 minutes, even if it is raining cats and dogs outside. We feel entitled to an apology from an entire restaurant chain, if one person serving us misbehaves or sometimes for an accidental error.

Where does this leave service providers and delivery executives like Kamaraj? The fine line between the perfect execution of duties and intolerable errors that they are forced to walk on, doesn’t it set them up for failure in the near or distant future? Saying that “the customer is always right” is a way of service providers telling their employers and consumers that they intend to offer unconditional appeasement. But who pays the price?

What’s the future of human interactions: In a world increasingly growing intolerant, what’s the future of human face-to-face interactions? We all find ourselves in situations that escalate from discord to heated arguments in a matter of seconds. In the Kamaraj and Hitesha Chandranee case, whoever is at the fault here, may have had many moments to scale back their anger and prevent escalation. There must have been a point where one of the two people crossed the point of no return and resorted to violence.

This situation could befall any of us. Do you keep on escalating the situation, or do you check your behaviour and step back a little. Do we even have a choice, considering the baggage of anger, entitlement and ego that most of us tend to carry? Will this case change the way consumers and service providers interact forever?

Image Credit: Hitesha Chandranee/Instagram

The views expressed are the author’s own.