We Try To Find Out Why The Food Delivery Service In Malaysia Is So Horrible

Are riders being mysteriously abducted? Could it be the non-existent time difference? Ninjas?

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We Try To Find Out Why The Food Delivery Service In Malaysia Is So Horrible
Image: MoveHappy
We initially wanted to write a piece on how poor the service industry is as a whole here in Malaysia but upon realising that it would probably take us longer than Tolkien took to write his books, we decided to first start off with something related to what all Malaysians love – food

As the (overused but necessary in this instance) saying goes, “a hungry man, is an angry man” and all you have to do is take a look at the screenshots below to conclude that food delivery services in Malaysia piss off a whole bunch of people rather frequently. 

Angry, hungry Malaysians.

In fact, we at Rojak Daily too have experienced this on several instances. And not just from one food delivery service. The most recent one being when we placed an order using a food delivery service that shall not be named and after about an hour and a half, nothing arrived. This, despite the app stating that the rider would “arrive in 10 minutes” with its super canggih rider tracking feature.

We ended up cancelling the order and it was in that state of anger and hunger we decided to dwell further into this whole problem of late food deliveries. “Why does it happen?”, “What happens to the restaurant that puts time, effort and money into preparing your food, only to have it cancelled?”, “Is there any form of compensation for the customer and restaurant?” and “What the Hell should I eat now?!” were some of the questions we pondered on while driving ourselves to the nearest restaurant to (physically) tapao our food… in the rain… while it was all jammed up.

Parking was a b*tch too, just so you know. 

Late food promotes cannibalism.

Anyway, we wanted to hear both sides of the story. Heck, we wanted to hear more than that so we got in touch with two very popular local food delivery services, namely Foodpanda and UberEATS, a couple of restaurant owners who utilise food delivery services (they obviously chose to remain anonymous), dahmakan who do both, prepare AND deliver food, and Skippys Pizza, a pizza place that uses an external party for food delivery.

We asked ‘em a bunch of questions to help us better understand some of the problems they face (because we clearly know how customers feel about it), common complaints and what is being done to improve on their services and/or rectify the problem(s). 


Why Do The Delays Occur Rather Frequently? Actually, Why Do They Even Occur?


According to Alvee Khan, the Commercial Director for Foodpanda Malaysia, there are times when there is “a delay in the payment provider processing” which in turn delays the order getting to the restaurant and the food being delivered on time. Also listed as a cause was the weather. “As our delivery is done with motorbikes, our riders are not able to deliver food when there are heavy rains,” explains Alvee. Right, fair enough but we then asked him what if the payment method of choice was cash and that said order was made on bright sunny day. Why do delays occur then? Because as far as we know, they still do.

This, he said, is attributed to the times when they “have an overwhelming number of orders.” Foodpanda forecasts for orders, however as orders are very volatile, it can be difficult at times for them to be 100% accurate. Foodpanda’s orders are growing week on week, hence their forecast must be reviewed on a weekly basis.


Shri Chakravarthy, the General Manager of UberEATS Malaysia and Singapore addressed two main issues they often face: delivery rescheduling because of heavy downpour and multiple food orders. The first was pretty understandable and is the same problem other food delivery service providers have to deal with too. But again, we asked what if the weather was alright? As in… no heavy downpour. Because let’s be honest, it’s not like it rains every darn day throughout the year in Malaysia. There were some delays was no one who managed to get back to us in time for this article to be published, so we’ll just update it accordingly if and when we do get a response. 

As for the latter, apparently the app allows you to order as many times as you want from the restaurant of your choice, but “it would be a separate delivery as it is handled by a different delivery partner depending on the availability and location.” To tackle this problem, UberEATS is “looking into improving and upgrading the algorithm within the app for better user experience” and will “definitely keep us updated” once they have an update on this.

A little uncertain of what this meant, we made a call to the PR agency that handles UberEATS for some clarification. The explanation was that you can place as many orders as you'd like from one restaurant, but not from say, other restaurants that are along the way or are on the route to your location etc. That's totally fair, in our opinion. 

Bugger, You Make Me Wait So Long. Got Compensation Ah?

We decided to move on to the next question, which was: “Is there any form of compensation for customers when delays occur?”. To this, Alvee responded with “The team at Foodpanda is very proactive when such incidents occur and we try our very best to manage their expectations accordingly.” And they claim that of course they have compensations, but it varies depending on the “severity of each issue”.

Severity of each issue? Uncertain of what that means, we asked them to elaborate.

“Internally, we categorise the compensation by tiers. These compensations are cash vouchers for our customers to use during their next purchase or refunds to their order”, Alvee says, but adds that it depends on the situation. We personally can’t vouch for the vouchers/refunds having never received any and looking at the comments on Foodpanda’s Facebook page, well… we’ll leave that to you to form your own conclusion.

Something we also discovered while browsing through the comments section was that some customers were also unfortunate enough to have Foodpanda cancel the order on them. It could just be us, but that certainly sounds like a “severe” issue. 

They take away the "fun" from refund.
As for UberEATS, the answer from Shri was a direct – “No, there is form of compensation provided.” It is good to note that UberEATS only accepts debit or credit card as a form of payment, so if an order is cancelled, nothing is deducted but nothing like a voucher or free meal is offered (at this point in time) either. 

Then What Happens To The Restaurant Fellas When Orders Are Cancelled?

"Who the Hell is gonna pay for my asparagus?!"

If the restaurant prepares the food on time and do everything right, and yet a delay occurs because of the rider which in turn causes hangry customers to cancel their order… what happens then?

According to Alvee from Foodpanda, for instances such as this, they absorb all costs and he also shares that the number of customers who cancel their order is very small.

“As mentioned before, we are constantly working on ensuring the efficiency of our service. Currently, our delivery time is 35 minutes from the moment your order is placed.”

Shri says that for UberEATS, they too absorb the cost of whatever went into the preparation of the cancelled food. They also would work with both the restaurant and the customer to investigate the issue and take appropriate action. The restaurant-partner could report the issue to the UberEATS team and “they’d look into the cause of the delay.”

This, we believe, should provide some form of comfort to restaurants who have partnered up with the food delivery service. 

Watchu Gonna Do About The Whole Delay And Customer Satisfaction Issue?

A very rare 'Frozen' reference.

“Our recent rebrand wasn’t just an aesthetic facelift. There were multiple changes that happened on the back end to further improve the efficiency of our service. For instance, the live tracking function, where users can track their rider as he picks up their food and makes his way to their location; an easier address handling for customer, here customers can search for their location based on the establishment they are in as well as a much more user-friendly interface. We also now have automated some components of the delivery system. This helps to ensure a smoother and more efficient delivery process.” – Alvee from Foodpanda.

He also mentioned that we do tend to see more negative than positive feedback online, but “that isn’t necessarily a reflection of the real situation.” 

“Our eaters and restaurant-partner satisfaction is our main priority. To ensure that they receive the best experience, UberEATS works with licensed restaurant partners that are required to comply with all food safety standards. We work with highly rated local restaurants to ensure UberEATS meals are delivered safely and freshly as well. We have not faced any major issues with our restaurant partners and users as of now. We realise that unique situations happen occasionally and eaters can be aware about the status of their orders in real time. We are committed in ensuring that each food delivery reach as soon as possible.” – Shri, from UberEATS.

From The Mouths Of The Restaurant Partners…

What we found out from two restaurant partners who use food delivery services is that they mainly do this because they get constantly asked, “Y u guys no deliver?!” And it’s usually because they’re not ready/willing to commit to hiring full-time riders. So, it’s clearly their next best option. We got them to answer several more questions and as mentioned, they’ve chosen to remain anonymous, so we’re gonna refer to them as erm… Robert and Janis. 

What has it been like using the delivery service?
Robert: Well it’s been merely one week since I’ve partnered with them and I already have three customer complaints. Two were late deliveries and one was a wrong order -  the rider mistakenly sent the wrong order over. 

Janis: Since so many vendors are on it and similarly, so many consumers are using it, being on it ourselves gives us some brand exposure. It’s little more than a marketing tool that you pay 30% of your sales for.

Every rider be like...
How has it affected your business? 

Robert: I wouldn’t say it has affected my business for now since I’ve only recently started getting my food delivered, but in the long run, it may not be very healthy for my business

Janis: It has helped with the branding and continuity of sales. When I give people my business card, a few actually recognise the logo because they’ve come across it on the food delivery app. Some people come to the restaurant because they tried via the app and they wanted to see what our place is really like. Our existing customers are just glad we’re on it so that they don’t have to endure crappy traffic and expensive parking just to eat our food, and they can order online, and I know this works because we get between 5 to 10 orders a day.

Was the service provider professional in responding, addressing and dealing with any problems you faced? 
Robert: My initial concern was on who was going to bear the cost of cancelled orders, to which they replied saying that so long as the food is out from the outlet, I will be paid. But I’ve had customers who have been calling me and asking what to do or why is it taking so long and my only response to them is to contact the service provider. 

Janis: They are apologetic, if not professional. They don’t really keep us in the loop for some of their practices which directly affect us. Like, when it rains and they pause the service, we don’t know it until a customer or friend actually calls to ask us why we’re closed the food delivery app. So they apologise and say they will relay our feedback to their management, and we all know how that usually turns out. 

Is there any compensation provided if and when orders are cancelled? 
Robert: Yes, or rather, so I have been told that there is compensation. But I am yet to receive my payment from them. It has been almost a month now

Janis: Why do you think there was any?

Would you still continue using the service?
Robert: For now, yes. Only because I have no other options, given that their charges of 32% is not very fruitful for my business. I’m only using their services as a marketing platform.

Janis: Until we can find a better solution for our delivery needs, yes. Unfortunately, most vendors don’t have the means to run their own delivery service because that involves yet more expenses, so being on these food delivery apps helps us deal with one problem.

What About Restaurants That Hire Their Own Riders?

Then there are some who don’t really fancy using food delivery services and opt instead to outsource their own. This, as you’ll soon realise, comes with its own share of challenges. We spoke to Fay, the owner of Skippys Pizza to tell us a little more. 

We know what we're ordering tonight.
What are some of the most commonly faced problem(s) you have? 
"When we outsource our riders, we expect the responsibility of handling riders to be on their side. They usually tell us they have over 200 riders, so there is no shortage but after the first month we realise they don’t control their riders and they don’t actually have that many. This in turn causes late deliveries with no communication on their part. So naturally customers get frustrated when they have to wait for food for two hours instead of one." 

Why do they occur? 
"Lack of responsibility and lack of ownership. They don’t care about providing efficient service. Most riders are uneducated so they don’t understand how bad service affects the customer."
How does this in turn affect your customers and their satisfaction? 
"We receive very bad feedback and customers are left unsatisfied. And what’s worse is that Skippys for example gets the bad name and not the service provider."

Is there any form of compensation provided to those said affected customers? 
"I usually have to apologise and give discounts on the next order just to keep them coming back."

How do you plan on resolving this issue to ensure customer satisfaction and in turn, a good brand reputation?
"I handle most calls and monitor closely the delivery by messaging or calling the riders for their ETA. But even with that some riders, if they are late, refuse to communicate."

Okay, But As A Customer It’s Not Really My Problem Lah.

This is true. But we wanted to make sure you guys understand the struggles that some face and why the delays occur.

However, the responsibility of owning up to random cancellations, delays and not properly responding to complaints really does fall to the food delivery service provider. And no guys, a template apology is not the way to go. On that note, let’s take a look at some guys who are actually doing it right. 


1) dahmakan

Achelly, belum but thanks for asking.

We spoke to Jonathan Weins, the CEO and Co-founder of dahmakan, who refer to themselves as the best healthy food in KL with a daily changing menu crafted by five-star chefs for lunch and dinner. Thankfully, they live up to the promise with some really good food and a reputable service to match. Here’s what Jonathan had to say about how they do things at dahmakan: 

“I think the opportunity we have with dahmakan that is different to traditional food delivery marketplaces or restaurants doing deliveries as an afterthought is that we can build a really amazing food delivery experience for the customer. That is, food delivery is our core business, the food quality and the delivery guarantee are at the heart of what we do

For example, we design the menu and packaging with delivery in mind, meaning you will not get soggy fries or a spilled curry. And we pride ourselves on training our in-house delivery riders daily which reduces a lot of the friction that comes with using a third party logistics provider (which is typically what food delivery marketplaces do) .  

The result of this is a very holistic food delivery experience for the customer. With the added bonus that we can serve the same restaurant quality food to the customer at a much lower price due to the operational and technology advantages we've built up with this business model. This means happier customers who order more frequently than traditional food delivery because it's a great experience and better value. 

At dahmakan, we also recently introduced a 30-minute delivery guarantee for Prime subscribers. So, say if our rider has a flat tire and cannot make your delivery on time, customers who are subscribed to Prime will get a free meal to make up for the delay. Regular customers also get compensation depending on the circumstances. We believe this helps to build trust with the customer that they can rely on us for a great food delivery experience, every time, exactly how it should be.”

A satisfied customer.

What we also noticed and appreciated is that they take customer feedback seriously and act accordingly. 

They walk the talk.

2) Domino’s Pizza

The pizza delivery experts don't mess around.
You don’t call yourselves the “pizza delivery experts” if you can’t live up to that name. While mistakes do occur in terms of certain orders getting mixed up etc, the focus here is on their delivery and what they do to tackle the delay issue should it happen.

And come on, everyone knows their policy (and secretly hope they DO deliver slightly after the 30-minute mark) – if your order does not arrive within 30 minutes, you get a free Regular Pizza voucher. On top of that, at least delivery is free lah with these guys.

*Nobody from Domino's was available to layan our questions. :(

To Wrap Things Up…

Look, mistakes do happen and the occasional order hiccup and delay will occur - there’s no escaping that. What service providers should look into, specifically food delivery services in this instance, is to not take your customers got granted. Do without the template apology message blasted out to each and every customer who all have faced unique and varying problems.

Provide some form of reassurance that each customer matters and that for putting them through delays and/or soggy and cold food, there is compensation provided. Make sure your customer service representatives know a thing or two about being polite and also, practise transparency and learn how to communicate more efficiently and effectively to both, your partners and customers

Best of luck with your food orders, fellow hungry Malaysians. We all need it. 


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