How much do you spend on ordering food?

I had a random thought when I was in my usual how-can-i-get-my-life-sorted mode the other day. How much have I really spent on ordering food on Zomato so far? I signed up for Zomato in 2015 and probably started ordering frequently from 2017 when my wife and kid were away in the US for about 4 months.

In India, food ordering apps and services are ubiquitous these days. With both the cloud kitchen business and digital payments in India booming, the resistance to order in a food is almost nil. It has become so smooth that they have etched themselves in the daily workflow for many. While it is a convenient service when needed, are we really ordering only when really required? 

I checked the app and it was not providing me any dashboard to easily look at the expenditures. All it has was the order history and you have to go through one by one to calculate. They don’t have an option to export this as well. I checked the website – same result. I wrote to Zomato support asking them to export and share the data in csv or excel format so that I can do the maths myself. Support replied saying it is not possible and that I have to go through the order history. 

Why do I have a problem with this?

  1. The customers are entitled to know their data. This should be made accessible as easily as possible in the spirit of transparency. I guess, the countries which have strong data protection laws demand this. Unfortunately, India does not have one and I hope the Personal Data Protection Bill (PDP) which is a draft now, will be approved and passed in 2023.  
  2. I don’t believe that an app which is completely data driven, which provides the revenue details and summaries to a restaurant does not have the ability or resources to do the same for a customer. Probably, it is just not in the best interest of the organization and probably, intentionally not prioritized or worked upon. Imagine that as a customer if I see that I have ordered food for 2000 rs in a week out of which a significant percentage goes towards taxes, delivery charges and auto-selected tip amount (default option should be no tip). I would be skeptical about ordering next time. If I call up the restaurant directly, it might cost less as restaurants tend to mark-up the order value to cover their commission charges. And another pain in the back is the inability to order from multiple restaurants in the same order forcing you to pay as many delivery charges and tip (because you are conditioned to believe not leaving a tip means you are not humane while the companies could layoff the same people due to the economical climate or changing priorities).  Going back, making this data available easily could potentially slow down people from ordering and could negate the efforts of their absolutely genius marketing team. Btw, Zomato’s notifications has a separate fan base.

So, I found a chrome plugin called Zomato Spending Calculator. While it is not clear from the comments whether this app is accurate or not, I was looking for some rough figures only. And while the results were quite shocking for me (as good as one month worth of emergency fund), looking at a few other netizens’ data I was relieved. While the total amount is from 2017, considering that we did not order anything during the lockdowns in 2020 and good part of 2021 this is a huge amount that was spent mostly on junk. Basically, we paid to become unhealthy. In Tamil, we have a phrase – Sontha selavula sooniyam vechukarathu. That’s exactly what it is. I have some areas to work on in improving the quality of life. As of now, uninstalled Zomato. Let’s see how long this vairagya lasts.

Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy, prosperous and a healthy new year!

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