Food delivery app Swiggy has ended up having to pay Rs 20,000 after a customer from Haryana’s Panchkula filed a complaint for having been charged Rs 4.50 as GST against a soft drink that he ordered as part of a meal. Half of the penalty amount will go to the customer, Abhishek Garg, a resident of Sector 2, and the other half will go to the account of the Haryana State Council for Child Welfare. The penalty has been awarded by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Panchkula. Swiggy has been termed guilty of unfair and deficient services by the commission, which has ordered it to refund Rs 4.50 with interest at 9% per annum, with effect from the date of filing of the complaint to its realisation. The Rs 10,000 to be paid to Garg is on account of causing him mental agony, harassment and litigation charges, Hindustan Times reported.
The complainant, Garg, had submitted that in August 2018, when he had ordered a meal of cheesy garlic stick costing Rs 144 and three soft drinks costing Rs 90 via Swiggy, he had been charged Rs 4.50 as GST on the soft drinks, even though he was already paying the MRP. This, he argued, was illegal under the Consumer Goods (Mandatory Printing of Cost of Production and Maximum Retail Price) Act, 2006.
Swiggy responded by claiming that it was only an intermediary. It said that there had been no deficiency in its services as all the applicable taxes on the bill are charged by the merchant on behalf of which the app only collects the payment.
However, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission said, “It is not…that Swiggy is providing purely gratuitous service to its customers, without any consideration," The Hindustan Times reported. It further said that Swiggy serves as a link between the buyer and the seller, collecting orders and forwarding them to the seller/vendor for the purpose of delivery and that it is definitely “not a charitable organisation".
Food delivery apps like Swiggy and Zomato have often come under fire for various controversial incidents. Most notably, a video of a woman accusing a Zomato delivery person of assault left everyone shocked recently. In April 2019, Swiggy landed in a soup after it sent an apology and a coupon worth Rs 200 to a woman who complained of abuse by a delivery boy in Bengaluru. These are among a number of incidents that have occurred through the years, involving these platforms.