Did Zomato handle the delivery boy Hitesha incident properly? Was the brand reputation taken care of?

Ever since social media became a part and parcel of our lives, the world we live in has become so closely knit. Any event of social impact that happens anywhere in the country quickly escalates into a nationwide phenomenon and draws attention from all corners of society.

The latest entrant to the list of events that caught the nation’s eye is the Zomato delivery boy assault case filed by a Bengaluru-based model and makeup artist Hitesha Chandranee. The lady accused Zomato’s delivery associate, Kamaraj, of intentionally assaulting her over altercations regarding a delayed delivery. Her video posted online describing the events from her perspective quickly, where she showed her bleeding nose allegedly due to a punch by the delivery guy, picked up steam and became the talk of the town with netizens quick to put out calls for the arrest of the perpetrator and the police did exactly that by arresting Kamaraj the next day.

However, then the events started to take surprisingly new twists. Kamaraj alleged that the he was fully framed by Hitesha in the incident and he too filed an FIR against Hitesha which accused her of intentional assault, criminal intimidation and wrongful restraint. He came out with his own video statement where he was seen crying while explaining his innocence. Luckily, the memories of the famous Jasleen Kaur false harassment case was still intact in the minds of netizens and Kamaraj quickly garnered support for his cause. Several people pointed out discrepancies in Hitesha’s video and her subsequent narrations to the police as well as to media personnel.

Soon the internet was divided on the matter with a majority of netizens supporting Kamaraj including A-list celebrities like Parineeti Chopra. Hitesha allegedly fled Bengaluru owing to pressure and is reportedly in Maharashtra with her family and continues to put out statements on social media elaborating her harassment ordeal but surprisingly she was not willing to co-operate with the authorities on the case. Her unwillingness to appear for questioning and the lack of evidence in the case has led Bengaluru police to decide to close the case thereby proving the innocence of Kamaraj.

Zomato Logo

Zomato, the brand whose name was flashing across the internet and TV screens across India initially stood by Hitesha and released a statement saying they would help with her medical treatment and support her in any legal proceedings she wishes to engage formally.

However, as the events took a sharp turn, Zomato came out in support of Kamaraj as well, saying they would pay for his legal expenses and help in taking the case to closure at the best interest of both parties.

Zomato’s open support via their social media handles for both Hitesha and Kamaraj was a perfectly balanced reputation management exercise that helped the brand stand up against a wave of negative sentiments that would have arisen against them if they initially did not support Hitesha. Their subsequent support for Kamaraj was also just in time as netizens were fast withdrawing their support for Hitesha while extending their arm to Kamaraj. They rightly played the role of a facilitator helping both Hitesha and Kamaraj to move officially, and the move eventually paid out as Hitesha is now seemingly missing from the picture, alleged to have faked the incident out of frustration and a quest for instant social media fame. Zomato’s handling of the reputational crisis was highly appreciated as it rightly stood with the law of the land without being judgmental.

I feel they, however, could have come out with a video or a public recognition for Kamaraj since the authorities have now officially proved his innocence.

Zomato’s safe play in the Hitesha-Kamaraj case clearly puts the brand out of danger in terms of online sentiments, but also shows their fear of taking a tougher stand and come out with a strong message in support of Kamaraj, which would have further imposed a feeling of trust amongst customers as Zomato can claim that they hire only the best associates to deliver delicious food and is not afraid to stand by them when situations demand.

Manavi Kapur

Manavi is a fun-loving, tech-savvy, lady of the media and you better believe us when we tell you that she can sing! Needless to say, she has done all that with aplomb because some of her articles are highly cited in this niche.

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