What to do when food deliveries go wrong

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09/04/2018 Whether it is one of those cold days that you would rather stay in snuggled up, a standing Friday pizza night tradition or you just don’t feel like facing the stove, food delivery has become a staple service for many of us. However great it is, food deliveries can go wrong and it will be helpful for you to know what you can do if you are given the short end of the stick, as is often the case.

My order was delivered late or not at all

Late delivery is unfortunately the most common issue consumers experience. Restaurants and delivery companies generally give you an estimate of when your food will arrive, and it is reasonable for you to expect your food to arrive within that period.

There are a number of reasons why your order could end up not reaching you at all, either the delivery person got lost and/or delivered it to the wrong person or they couldn’t get hold of you upon arrival to your listed delivery address and returned the order to the restaurant or they were in an accident, yes that happens too.

Even though restaurants and delivery companies make provision for other factors that may affect timeous delivery in their delivery estimates, it is common practice to allow a five minute cushion outside the expected delivery time, especially during rush hour. While some applications may enable you to track your order in real time, you can also be proactive and call the restaurant in question to find out whether or not your order is ready and has been collected for delivery.

When your order finally arrives, address the issue with the delivery driver. It is hardly ever the case that delivery drivers deal with issues like this, but they may be able to offer you a solution. If that doesn’t work, contact the restaurant or delivery company’s customer service department and raise your complaint. You should also, if you ordered through a delivery app, rate the delivery. As a way of apologising for the bad service, you may be refunded in part, given a discount on your next meal or receive a coupon for instance. Some restaurants also offer a delivery promise and will compensate you should they not meet that promise.

If you feel your order is taking too long to arrive, you can cancel it. Unfortunately, this will be on the terms of the restaurant or delivery company you ordered from. In some instances, you may only be refunded a portion of what you paid. It is slightly different for consumers who pay cash on delivery because you don’t pay until your order arrives. Other restaurants may offer to discount the order or give it to you for free if you agree to accept the late delivery.

When you order food online or via telephone, you have to make sure you will be available to collect the order and can be reached on the number they have on file for you. If an order is returned to the restaurant, they will most likely give you an option to collect it yourself. In the event that you don’t collect it, you may remain liable for the order and not be refunded.

It is however possible that the delivery person misdialed or did not follow a special instruction you noted on your order. If you weren’t contacted or a note you made was seemingly disregarded, you should raise a complaint with the restaurant demanding a full refund or another delivery run citing the error.

It may be tedious, but it will also be helpful if you are aware of the terms and conditions of the restaurant or delivery company you make use of.

This is not what I ordered!

Unfortunately, most times one only realises after the delivery driver has left that your delivery includes items you didn’t order or are a different size meal. Remember, an order that is not yours may very well be someone else's so always check the items before the delivery driver speeds off.  Sometimes you receive a wrong order because the delivery driver gave your order to someone else, the system captured it incorrectly or you selected the wrong item or the item or flavour you wanted isn’t available, in which case you should first be contacted before the order is finalised.

If you do realise the order is incorrect with the delivery person still there, you can simply tell them the order is wrong and refuse to accept the delivery. If you only pick it up when you are about to eat, immediately get hold of the restaurant and explain the situation. The restaurant or delivery company will then review your order and if it is in fact an error on their part, they will offer to correct the error, recollect the order and refund you or agree to a discount if you choose to keep the order as it is. If you eat the meal before complaining, the best you will achieve is make the restaurant aware of the problem and help them prevent it in the future, but the chances of a refund become very slim.

My food was cold… Or warm.

If the meal is meant to be eaten hot, then you shouldn’t have to eat it cold! The opposite is also true, cold drinks shouldn’t be warm. Again, in most situations, it is hard to tell whether or not your food is cold at the point of collection. It is even harder to prove to a restaurant or delivery company that your food was cold upon arrival, but that shouldn’t stop you from raising a complaint with them. Most restaurants or delivery companies want you to be happy as a consumer and will try to make it up to you somehow. The key is to be reasonable in your expectations and to always speak up as it may also help ensure that it doesn’t happen to you or others in the future.

Issues with payments

Whether you were double- or overcharged, or your order was cancelled and you weren’t refunded, you should report the discrepancy with the restaurant or delivery company at the soonest.

Remember, if you order food through a delivery company, your first point of contact for a complaint should be the delivery company. Most times, they will refer your complaint to the restaurant if they can’t address the issue. However, if the complaint is with regards to the quality of the food itself you can complain directly to the restaurant to speed up the process.

Whatever you do, always speak up when things go wrong, even if it may not end up in a free meal, a discount or a refund - companies can’t fix problems or trends that they don’t know exist, your feedback is valuable in ensuring they stay on top of their customer service.

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