Why online shopping is a gamble

June 12, 2022

In this digital age, paying online is as easy as it is difficult

Why online shopping is a gamble


am hoping that all of you reading this are aware of how online payments work in Pakistan. For me, online payment can be categorised as the bank deposit that we make directly into the vendor’s account, and the one where we pay directly from our credit/ debit card.

So, here is something that happened with me recently. At 11 in the morning, I was home, my mother suddenly realised (as all mothers do at some point) that the material required to make chicken karahi needed to be purchased. Since it was too hot outside and I didn’t have the will to step out, the modern-age man in me decided to ‘order’ raw chicken. Another reason was that I was out of cash, so I could only order from a place that would accept online payment.

This left me with a handful of options since in this digital age paying online is as easy as it is difficult. Depending on the portal, the service you are using and the amount required for you to pay, this can become very tricky. You don’t want to pay extra charges or service charges or delivery charges, and then you want to get things delivered in time also. Anyhow, since a food delivery service, FF, was marketing themselves like crazy, I decided to give them a try. I checked them, and since they have their delivery fulfillment centres established around the city that focus primarily on groceries, I had to check with their partners’ setup, and SS came up. It was nearby, so I placed my order and then paid online.

In the meantime, I ordered some other groceries from Airlift and paid online for them as well. Half an hour later, Airlift had delivered as promised but nothing from FF. Suddenly I came to know that my order had been marked as “delivered” whereas in reality I was still without chicken. I reached out to their customer support service. (On a side note, there’s something quite satisfying about human voice; at least I personally have a problem with talking to chatbots that seem so impersonal and distant.) The chat person heard me out, and then reassured me that they’d try to call the rider.

As it was a third-party store, they reverted only to apologise to me that they had been unable to reach the rider. Again, I was assured that someone from the delivery service would get in touch with me soon. Since it wasn’t a big amount I said okay, and waited for a response. Last week, I received an email from FF which said, “You’ve informed us that your order was marked as delivered but you didn’t receive it. We have checked your order details and the rider might have marked your order delivered mistakenly. We’ve thoroughly reviewed the details of your case. However, in this case, we won’t be proceeding with a refund as it is against our refunds policy. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. We hope you have a better experience with us in the future.”

I was astounded. This is the kind of response you get from what claims to be the market leader in food/ grocery deliveries? How could they admit that I had made the payment and that the item was never delivered, and yet keep my money? The funniest part is, they hoped that I’d have “a better experience… in the future.” As if.

What baffled me the most was the fact that this loss happened just because I had paid in advance. Had I opted for cash on delivery this wouldn’t have hurt at all.

Delivery companies/ services should keep in mind that if someone is paying you in advance then they are trusting you with their money, and that trust needs to be established both ways.

Thankfully, this isn’t the standard practice. I have had lots of good experience where paying in advance, either via bank transfer or through a card proved to be such a blessing — after all, there are times when you aren’t home but still you get your item(s) delivered. But trying to get this ecosystem more adaptive towards digital age and giving experiences like these will discourage the shift that consumers of this sector need.

The writer works in the tech   sector. He is also a    freelance journalist

Why online shopping is a gamble