Shippers gouge consumers in HCM City as demand surges

Update: July, 25/2021 - 09:56


Delivery costs in HCM City have risen sharply due to high demand because of social distancing. Photo

HCM CITY — HCM City has imposed strict travel restrictions and locked down many places, causing demand for home delivery services to skyrocket along with costs.

Trần Thị Mai, living in District 3, said she had ordered 15 baguettes from a District 1 store and a delivery app informed her delivery would cost VNĐ95,000 (US$4.1) for the 5km distance. The bread cost only VNĐ80,000.

But no driver accepted the order. She tried other delivery apps with the same result.

"I had to add a VNĐ20,000 tip for a driver to accept my order. The total cost was 115,000 while it is normally VNĐ30,000-VNĐ40,000."

Streets are largely empty but it is easy to spot shippers in Grab or Now uniforms driving back and forth or queuing up in front of supermarkets and food stores.

However, not only consumers, but also online sellers have been hit by the high delivery fees since they are causing customers to routinely cancel orders.

Nguyễn Nguyên Ngọc, an online pastry seller, said the delivery fees change constantly. She might have delivered to District 1 from District 8 just the previous day at VNĐ90,000, but a day later it could be VNĐ135,000, she said.

“The high delivery fees cause many customers to cancel orders, and my order volumes are down by more than 50 per cent. When there are big orders from regular customers, I foot half the delivery bill.”

Trần Văn Thanh, a Grab driver, said the fourth wave of the pandemic spread rapidly, causing demand for transportation to slump. But demand for delivery, especially foodstuff, had surged, especially around lunchtime.

In one afternoon a shipper could undertake seven to eight orders depending on the delivery distance, he added.

But amid this sharp increase in demand, the number of drivers has fallen steeply since many have returned to their hometowns or do not want to work due to fear of the coronavirus, he said.

Delivery service providers also claimed that charges have increased also because, with many roads in the city blocked, their drivers have to travel longer distances.  VNS