Meituan, Ele.me rectify excessive packaging fees
Two major takeaway platforms, Meituan and Ele.me, are moving to regulate and rectify excessive packaging fees for food takeaways.
Earlier media reports on high packaging fees for snacks and even small amounts of food drew heated discussion.
Online complaints about packaging fees making up nearly half of the total food takeaway price went viral, with some pointing out that they were reasonable expenditure to keep food unspoiled during delivery.
The price of take out containers of different sizes and quality varies, therefore the charging differs for food orders of different kinds and amounts.
The Shanghai Consumer Protection Commission in June called for rules on standardized and transparent packaging fees for takeaways.
Sometimes customers overlook the fee and only pay attention to the total amount when they checkout, while the price detail for each individual item could be vague.
The commission said some vendors charged "far higher" than the actual cost of packaging materials and some vendors had different rules for packaging fees at different sites, which was confusing for customers.
Consumers were advised to report complaints to the platforms or take them directly to the commission.
"It's hard to ignore the packaging fees and the notification when I pay for food takeaways, but I will definitely take a closer look at the details to prevent overcharging," said Shanghai resident Zhou Tao, who orders takeaways three to four times each week.
A special taskforce has been set up by Meituan to speed up the rectification of irregularities regarding packaging fees.
As many as 16,000 vendors were urged to remove their listings on the takeaway ordering platform since April amid efforts to improve the pricing mechanism.
Meituan said while it is hard to carry out a one-size-fits-all regulation for packaging fees, it encourages a guidance rate and an upper limit for food vendors. It would also step up encouragement to prevent unreasonable charging.
To optimize the packaging fee, the delivery platform was also working to upgrade relevant functions and better restrict unfair charging by limiting the listings on the platform.
Ele.me said it also initiated a similar measure with hundreds of thousands of vendors having been told to fix unreasonable charging. It had saved over 30 million yuan in packaging fees for customers since earlier this year.
The platform always required vendors to show a detailed break down of packaging fees on their checkout page.
It also added that efforts to encourage vendors to use the proper amount of packaging for takeaways would continue, while also assuring food and delivery safety.