Mother's Day mayhem as online orders fall through
Those who had to celebrate Mother's Day this year amid safe distancing found themselves in the lurch after their food orders via various platforms fell through.
Some even ended up having instant noodles with the last-minute cancellations, like family members of a 28-year-old personal assistant who wanted to be known only as Mrs Heng.
Mrs Heng had ordered food from Sing Yi Seafood Garden for her parents who live with her two sisters.
She told The New Paper: "The driver called me at about 8pm and told me to cancel the order because the restaurant was not preparing the order."
Mrs Heng could not cancel the order on the app, so she tried calling Grab's customer service and the restaurant to no avail.
She received a text from Grab at 8.30pm to say the order had been cancelled and a refund was made.
According to a worker, the restaurant was "very busy" on Sunday so it "turned off the machine receiving orders" from GrabFood, Deliveroo and Foodpanda and told arriving riders that orders were cancelled.
A Grab spokesman said: "Combined with an unexpected technical glitch on the platform... it resulted in longer waiting times and a significant surge in the volume of calls to our Customer Experience hotline... The glitch has since been fixed."
Other food delivery platforms TNP contacted also apologised for the inconvenience and disappointment caused.
Deliveroo said its service may have been affected by high order volumes, inclement weather and fewer riders, and if the restaurants could not fulfil the order for their own reasons.
Foodpanda said it does not cancel orders on behalf of restaurant partners and will be working with them "to ensure better planning of resources and manpower to minimise such occurrences".
Ms Mah Chin Keak shared in a Facebook post she had ordered a Mother's Day dinner from House of Seafood to be delivered by 6.30pm on Saturday.
By 8pm, a staff member who finally answered her call said she did not know where the delivery man was, so Ms Mah cancelled.
House of Seafood owner Francis Ng told TNP the delays were from lack of manpower for both chefs and riders and a delay in the arrival of its crab supply.
The restaurant handled unhappy customers by offering refunds or delivering a new order another day. It also gave out $50 vouchers to customers who ordered on May 10 as an apology.
Mr Howard Lo, the owner of Japanese restaurant Tanuki Raw, took it one step further by apologising for having "messed up" and "failed hard" with its deliveries, and promised to contact affected customers.
He wrote on Facebook: "We feel terrible about the delays, especially as during this stressful circuit breaker period a little joy like a good meal with a celebration on Mother's Day becomes even more meaningful. I'm sorry. We are going to make it right."
Mr Lo explained that right before the circuit breaker, Tanuki Raw set up its own islandwide delivery platform, comprising some riders that are contracted to it and third-party services such as Lalamove and CarPal.
But for Mother's Day itself, when he discovered that not enough delivery riders were being assigned, he decided to stop further orders from its website.
He told TNP: "Exacerbating the problem was that some riders cancelled picking up the order at the last minute, so we then had to find new delivery couriers while also re-doing the order so that it would be fresh for the updated delivery time. That led to a back-up of orders and repeated orders as well as a snowball in delays.
"While we were struggling trying to find riders and coordinate the meals, we weren't able to respond to the customers contacting us and asking about where their food was."
Mr Lo said he is looking at improving Tanuki Raw's processes so that it can handle "the next big day", adding: "We had teething issues at the beginning of our islandwide delivery in March but we improved quickly, so we thought we would be able to handle the Mother's Day rush."