Top 10 hot issues concerning consumer protection in China 2020

By Zhu Bochen
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 7, 2021
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8. Relaxing meal delivery times: Platforms criticized for shirking responsibilities

Photo taken on Nov. 15, 2019 shows a food delivery motorcycle of Eleme in Beijing. [Photo/VCG]

Social influence index: 88.5

Chinese food delivery giants Meituan and Eleme were at the forefront of a social media debate on Sept. 8, 2020 as an article went viral describing takeaway riders' dangerous working environment and low wages. The article, entitled Takeaway Rider, Stuck in the System, reported on the companies' controversial algorithm, which left riders no choice but to violate traffic rules and risk their lives in order to meet the tight and ideal delivery time thus created.

Eleme responded on Sept. 9 that it would add a new feature on its app allowing consumers to choose to wait for five or ten more minutes for the food. The move immediately triggered a strong backlash on social media platforms. Most consumers believed that, instead of calling for consumers to make a concession, delivery companies should reflect on their own algorithm-based business model designed to control costs and improve efficiency by exploiting riders and setting impossibly short delivery time regardless of their safety. 

They called for food delivery companies to act and optimize their algorithm and technologies. They believe that coordinated efforts should be made amongst takeaway platforms, restaurant owners, riders, supervision bodies and consumers themselves. Companies are also encouraged to shoulder their corporate social responsibilities, instead of shifting responsibilities to consumers.

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