Ministry warns delivery on gouging

Ministry warns delivery on gouging

Online food delivery drivers have seen orders spike during the pandemic.
Online food delivery drivers have seen orders spike during the pandemic.

Controls on delivery services during the pandemic have been tightened to prevent operators from profiteering as online orders have surged following a fresh wave of infections.

Wattanasak Sur-iam, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the Commerce Ministry has been monitoring delivery fees during the third wave as more people work from home. Moreover, some provinces have banned sit-in dining at restaurants and food outlets, leading people to buy more goods online, especially food.

Mr Wattanasak said the department spoke with 11 digital platforms on Thursday -- Foodpanda, Grab, Lineman, Robinhood, Gojek, Lazada, Shopee, Ohlala, Lalamove, JatujakMall and Thailand Post via -- and all of them pledged to cap their delivery charges during the crisis.

In addition, he said many platforms have organised promotional campaigns to help people and ensure delivery service.

Mr Wattanasak said most digital operators reported purchase orders increased 5-10% as a result of the new wave, compared with quieter periods during the pandemic.

Referring to an earlier report that some digital platforms are raising commission fees for food vendors to increase gross profit (GP), he said the platforms insisted they had no plans to increase GP or any delivery charges as they are fully aware of the situation and vendors' hardship.

The department instructed delivery companies to upgrade the sanitary standards of their drivers to prevent virus spread and ensure consumer confidence. They were also warned against price gouging.

Delivery charges for online shopping and counter services are under the Commerce Ministry's price control list and require special supervision.

The government earlier this year retained price controls on 55 products and service items including medical face masks, synthetic fibres used as raw material to make medical face masks, alcohol and alcohol-based hand sanitisers, recyclable paper, and delivery charges for online shopping and counter services. The list covers mostly essential items for daily use such as food and consumer products.

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