With little in the way to celebrate these past few months, and already worn down by weeks in winter lockdown, many Victorians looked to Sunday with some anticipation.
- Providoor has promised to refund customers whose meals arrived too late, or not at all, on Father’s Day
- One customer spent more than $200 on a banquet but her meal arrived hours late and the raw fish was warm
- Another said her meal never arrived and her parents received a food delivery box with melted ice packs
Premier Daniel Andrews was to announce a roadmap out of Australia’s strictest coronavirus measures, in the hopes that the state would avoid a third surge of infections.
It was also Father’s Day, and plenty were buoyed by the prospect that it would be the last time an occasion, usually enjoyed by families together, would be held alone.
To celebrate, thousands decided to order a meal in advance from some of Melbourne’s most highly rated restaurants, whose dining rooms have been empty since the city moved back into lockdown.
It was to be brokered by Providoor, a new platform which allows customers to order from some of the city’s most sought-after chefs and have the food dropped off at their door.
But overwhelming demand and a logistical breakdown left hundreds of Victorians hungry after their orders were hours late or, in some cases, not delivered at all.
Instead of an elegant feast, some were left with a boiled egg on toast, while others made do with Weetbix.
It left a bad taste in the mouths of many, including Kharla Williams, who spent more than $200 on a banquet from Melbourne restaurant, Gingerboy.
Mark Walterfang and Kharla Williams received their order hours late and said the items in the box, which included raw fish, were warm.(Supplied)
She and her husband were advised by Providoor to expect their food sometime between 9:00am and 5:00pm.
But hours later, and tired of waiting, they were forced to order dinner elsewhere.
Ms Williams said that when her meal, which contained raw fish, finally arrived, she was forced to throw it away.
“The box was warm and gel packs in the box [were] also warm,” Ms Williams said.
“The only edible items of the $200 order was the cos lettuce and uncooked container of rice.
“The rest was questionable, and for our own health as well as our children, we disposed of [the] box.”
Ms Williams said she was told by her delivery driver that he had been on the road since 11:00am.
“He felt Providoor took on way too many orders and there wasn’t enough drivers. He said that he was delivering 13 orders within an hour,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jacqui Lui is still waiting for her meal from Cumulus Inc, which was organised as a surprise from her husband.
“We never even got our food and even if we did after the slotted time, I would not trust it being safe to eat,” Ms Lui said.
“My parents received their food, ordered at [a] similar time from [the] same restaurant, and noted the ice packs inside were already melted so no way would our food have survived.
“You’d think they understand special days during lockdown is a big deal.”
Providoor says refunds will be assessed on case-by-case basis
Providoor’s founder, chef Shane Delia, apologised for the debacle and blamed the company’s logistics provider, which he said had “bitten off more than they could chew”.
“They assured us they could handle the volume, but that wasn’t the case,” Mr Delia said.
“My biggest heartbreak is knowing our customers have been let down.”
Victoria’s road to recovery
Mr Delia revealed that Providoor had received 25,000 orders over the weekend. He said that 99 per cent of customers had received their order “eventually”.
But he said he was heartbroken to have let customers down.
He said his business had “deservedly” become a punching bag for people’s frustrations.
“It’s not acceptable, it’s not good enough,” he said.
Providoor has the backing of the Victorian Government’s ‘Click for Vic’ campaign, which encourages Victorians to support local business through online shopping during the lockdown.
Mr Delia stressed that it was not Providoor accepting the orders, but the restaurants the business partnered with, He said “significant” changes would be announced in the coming days.
“We’ve all been let down,” he said.
He told the ABC that refunds would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“We’ll be investigating each case on its merits, and where refunds are merited, a full refund will be made,” he said.
“At the end of the day, morally, I want to make this right for people.”
The weekend’s events would not happen again, he said, and he urged Victorians to support their local businesses.
“It was a bad day and it wont be repeated,” he said.
“It’s not what we’re about.”
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