Several vendors operating in a building owned by Accenture in Hadapsar have gone up in arms against Zomato after the food aggregator deducted large sums of money from them, allegedly without explanation.
Apart from Zomato, the vendors are also suing TongueStun, a subsidiary of Zomato which aggregates vendors and caterers.
The vendors had initially signed contracts with TongueStun, which was later taken over by Zomato. The issue came to light in the first week of November where the vendors, who have been operating as caterers six to nine years in the building, found that unaccounted deductions had been made from their accounts.
The vendors say the practices of Zomato have made it difficult for them to operate and they were thrown out of operations on November 26 after they protested by logging out. “We are seven vendors with 15 different kiosks in different wings of the company. Earlier, we operated alone and directly signed with the company for operations. However, in 2017, a company called TongueStun came into the picture and took over operations,” said Rahul Chavan, one of the vendors.
Chavan said that initially, it was an experiment and everyone decided to embark on the contract for five per cent commission plus taxes. Things went well till TongueStun became a subsidiary of Zomato. They were given a new contract which the company claimed was the same as the one they signed. It wasn’t, and, according to Chavan, the company did not inform them about the several clauses when they signed.
“Zomato took over TongueStun in 2018 and they brought us a different contract. We were unaware of the deductions mentioned (in clauses) and were informed about them only a few months ago,” he said. Another vendor, Venkat Kamanaboina, said he only realised about the deductions after the money was deducted from his account. “I was supposed to get a sum of Rs 26, 370 as part of the earnings. However, I was shocked to see the statement that only Rs 387 were credited in my account,” he said.
Jimmi Joseph, another vendor, said that he expected a sum of over Rs one lakh in his account but only received Rs 9,000. “All the vendors faced the same issue and, when we asked Zomato about it, the company said nothing. This resulted in all the vendors logging off the app as a form of protest,” Joseph said.
The company asked them to log back on November 25 but when they refused, the company ejected them the next day. Vendors say Zomato has prohibited access to them and they are not even allowed to pick up their equipment. Gurvinder Bindra, president of National Association for Facility Management and Corporate Caterers said, “The complaint was received by the body from the vendors after which it was decided to act on the issue.”
Sanee Awsarmmel, chairman of National Union of Hospitality Industry of India (NUHII), said that legal action has been initiated against the Zomato for wrongful behaviour. “The vendors have been cheated as they were not given any clarity about the details the contract entailed. The documents were signed and later, the stamp paper was added,” he added.
The notice issued, a copy of which is with Mirror, says that Zomato is an aggregator should only be liable for digital management for the supply of food. Pawan Wagh, facility head of Accenture and responsible for vendor management said, “We have hired Zomato as our vendor for the company to provide the services. The practice is implemented across all our offices.”