Zomato’s leadership team has had its plate full of late. Recently, after private bank HSBC had devalued the company by more than half, the founders went on to explain how it didn’t matter and things at Zomato were a-okay.
Now a controversy, albeit of a different nature, plagues the unicorn startup.
Zomato has over 5 million users across the world, who use the popular app to make eating out plans based on it, and its ratings can mean success or failure for a restaurant.
On Thursday, longtime Zomato user Prateek Dham claimed that Zomato’s review system is corrupt. He went public with a detailed Facebook post that purportedly exposed Zomato’s underhand method of soliciting paid reviews. He elaborated how Zomato approaches restuarants, offering them good reviews in exchange for money, and uses “foodie” meetups to influence ratings for a restuarant that in turn pays Zomato. He also expressed his frustration at having his Zomato profile unceremoniously knocked off by Zomato, allegedly without his knowledge.
However, Zomato didn’t take this lying down. In a detailed blogpost, the company has clarified that a restaurant’s rating is based on the ratings it gets from users and Zomato doesn’t manipulate ratings on its own. In fact, Zomato has published proof that in fact it’s Dham himself who’s resorted to some unscrupulous practices by soliciting money for writing favourable reviews for restaurants. Zomato’s proofs includes messages from restaurants who reached out to Zomato informing the company about the same.
Zomato also published proof that refute Dham’s claim that Zomato deleted his profile without intimation, as Zomato appears to have sent him a detailed email informing the user about his misdoings and his subsequent ouster from Zomato.
While Dham’s post has been doing the rounds on social media, Zomato’s public response has been received well. CEO Deepinder Goyal personally responded to lots of comments on Dham’s original Facebook post.
Many of Zomato’s current and past employees have stuck out for Zomato vouching for the fact that Zomato is ethical in its dealings.
We have also independently spoken to a couple of Ex-Zomans who have wholeheartedly stood up for their ex-employers’ ethical dealings. “Yes, they’re a business and they make money from sponsored listings. But it ends there. They don’t get paid for meetups at these restaurants despite giving them a huge marketing bandwidth. Leave alone influence the invitees to write a review, they even sponsor schwag for the invitees themselves. ” said an employee. “They’re very particular about their rating system. It’s sacrosanct to the company.”, an ex-employee told us.