Zomato on Tuesday issued a public apology after one of its customer care executives called Hindi the national language while addressing a customer grievance. The conversation between the executive and a customer appeared on Twitter that resulted in an outrage as many people slammed the food delivery aggregator for considering Hindi as the national language. The Gurugram-based company initially terminated the executive to put the controversy to rest. However, Zomato co-founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal later reinstated the employee, calling it an “ignorant mistake.”
On Monday evening, the Zomato customer — identified as Vikash — posted screenshots showing the conversation with the company's customer care executive wherein he asked for a refund from the restaurant for an item which he had not received. The Zomato executive noted that he tried calling the restaurant but was unable to speak due to a “language barrier.”
The customer responded by saying that if Zomato was operating in Tamil Nadu, it should hire personnel who speak in Tamil. In response, the executive promptly remarked that Hindi was “our national language” and it was “very common that everybody should know Hindi.” The executive later apologised to the customer and said that there was no way to compensate in the matter, the screenshots shared by the customer show.
In addition to the apparent conversation, the customer claimed on Twitter that since he did not know Hindi, the executive told him that the amount he paid for the order that he did not receive could not be refunded.
“Also takes lesson [sic] that being an Indian I should know Hindi. Tagged me a liar as he didn't know Tamil,” the customer posted on the microblogging site.
Hours after the tweet was published, it came into the limelight and raised the controversy against Zomato over the national language claim made by its executive. The hashtags #RejectZomato and #StopHindiImposition started trending on Twitter.
Zomato responded to the customer with a public apology letter to address concerns raised by people.
“We are sorry for the behaviour of our customer care agent, we have terminated the agent for their negligence towards our diverse culture,” the company said in the letter. This customer care agent's statements do not represent our company's stance towards language and diversity.”
The letter also revealed that Zomato is building a Tamil version of its app and is in process of building a local Tamil call and support centre in Coimbatore.
However, Goyal later posted a thread on Twitter to announce that the company reinstated the terminated executive as the incident was not alone something they should have been fired for.
“Our call centre agents are young people, who are at the start of their learning curves and careers. They are not experts on languages and regional sentiments. Nor am I, btw [sic],” he tweeted.
A Zomato spokesperson told Gadgets 360 that the company was conducting a sensitisation training for all its executives. The training is claimed to be aimed at avoiding instances of hurting regional sentiments in the future.
Notably, Hindi has not been designated as the national language in the country, though it is one of the official languages defined in the Article 343 of the Indian Constitution.
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