FHRAI joins chorus against online food apps, threatens protests

New Delhi (IANS) As online food aggregators faced the heat from offline restaurants under the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI), the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI) has joined the chorus, warning of nation-wide protests against the “unethical” deep discounting practices of players like Zomato Gold and Dineout, among others.

In a statement, the FHRAI called for a review of the agreement of online food apps with restaurants.

“Restaurants are constantly but subtly threatened to participate in deep discounting schemes without respite through the year with one scheme getting replaced by another.

“Our members are neither given an option nor the opportunity to agree nor are they even consulted. Promises made while launching any new scheme is almost always broken by changing the rules itself,” said SK Jaiswal, Vice President of FHRAI in the statement late Sunday.

The FHRAI also highlighted the “unreasonably high commissions, payment terms and arbitrarily applied additional charges” the restaurants are being charged to bstay on online food aggregators’ platforms like Nearbuy, EasyDiner and Magicpin.

A request for Zomato’s reaction to the FHRAI’s statement went unanswered.

According to the umbrella body of hotel and restaurant associations, restaurants are willing to do business with online food apps but the current policies need to be reconsidered.

As hundreds of restaurants delisted from online food aggregators’ platform across the country, Zomato’s Founder Deepinder Goyal requested restaurant owners to stop the #logout campaign.

In a tweetstorm, Goyal said that young entrepreneurs (much like him) in the restaurant industry are feeling the pressure to such an extent that they had to launch such a campaign.

“Zomato Gold has been a major hit, but we understand that bargain hunters have also joined Zomato Gold and they are hurting some segments of the restaurant industry very badly,” Goyal tweeted.

His reaction came after hundreds of restaurants under the umbrella of the NRAI — beginning from Gurugram — challenged the deep discounting practices of online food aggregators.

According to NRAI President Rahul Singh, the situation for restaurants is aggravated through the anytime, anywhere, any day discounting behaviour by aggregators.

Zomato in an earlier email asked its Gold restaurant partners to serve a notice of 45 days if they wish to opt out.

The restaurants under the NRAI in several states have further threatened to delist from online dining platforms.

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