Trade Competition Commission sets up protection for restaurants

Trade Competition Commission sets up protection for restaurants

Officials crack down on unfair practices

The Trade Competition Commission (OTC) is setting guidelines for online food delivery services to prevent unfair trade practices and keep online food delivery platforms from taking advantage of restaurants.

Santichai Santawanpas, the commissioner of the Office of Trade Competition Commission (OTCC) and the office's spokesman, said the commissioners have already finished the draft guidelines to regulate online food delivery services after the business mushroomed during the lockdown starting in April.

Mr Santichai said the guidelines focus mainly on governing unfair practices between online food delivery platforms and restaurant owners.

The OTCC is preparing to open public hearings from stakeholders and will be open for comments on improving the draft guidelines, he said.

Once the public hearings finish, the working panel on the draft guidelines will edit and send the draft to the Trade Competition Commission for approval and a later announcement on enforcement.

Mr Santichai said the guidelines come after close monitoring of new business models that started during the pandemic.

The OTCC's supervision will help ensure fair practices among business operators whose models are in flux, he said.

"Without the OTCC's supervision, we're afraid some online food delivery platforms may dominate the market," Mr Santichai said. "We've already consulted the food delivery service providers and restaurant operators and all have agreed on the guidelines."

He said the guidelines will include preliminary prohibition requirements on calls for unfair economic benefits such as unreasonable income-sharing charges and advertising and special sales promotion fees without proper rationale and clarity.

Food delivery platforms are also required to notify restaurant operators in advance of the reason and the need for changes in their service charges at a reasonable time.

The guidelines also stipulate trade conditions that restrict or hinder the operation of other business operators, such as determining conditions that restrict restaurant operators' rights by prohibiting food distribution to other food delivery operators unfairly.

Online food and parcel delivery service transactions surged after the lockdown to contain the outbreak in March. Kasikorn Research Center forecasts the food delivery market to grow 19-21% from 35 billion baht last year.

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