China Focus: When fast food just isn't fast enough

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-14 17:02:38|Editor: Zhou Xin
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BEIJING, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) -- A food delivery man has found himself in hot water in China after he was caught on camera cooking in a restaurant kitchen.

In a video that went viral this week, the delivery man, apparently fed up with the cook's somewhat languid attitude, took over the wok and started making the dish by himself.

In the yellow uniform and helmet of delivery company Meituan Waimai, the man can be seen tossing the food in the air and then stirring it vigorously as smoke billows around him. Two cooks beside him are obviously engrossed in making other dishes.

The video immediately drew the attention of the online community and has been viewed more than 6 million times. It has attracted about 2,500 comments.

"He was probably in a hurry because of the need for speed in food delivery," said one Weibo user.

"He has to both cook and deliver? What a tiring job!" read another comment.

"You can tell that he used to be a cook by the way he handles the wok," wrote another armchair expert.

Meituan Waimai said it is investigating as delivery staff are not even allowed into restaurant kitchens.

According to market researcher iiMedia, the online food delivery business was worth 166 billion yuan (about 25 billion U.S. dollars) in 2016, up 33 percent from 2015, and is expected to reach 204 billion yuan this year. Meituan Waimai controls over 40 percent of the market.

While food delivery comes to the boil in China, poor management and working conditions of delivery staff has brought a nasty taste to the industry.

According to in-house regulations of most delivery companies, the food must arrive at the hungry customers' doors within a certain time. If that does not happen, the delivery staff are fined. They are also fined if there are any complaints or bad reviews from customers, who usually give immediate feedback on delivery.

This puts a lot of pressure on couriers like the one in the video to speed things up as much as they can. Many of them take risks in traffic and have been hit by cars, some have even been killed.

In Shanghai, in the first half of 2017, 76 traffic accidents involved food deliverers. That is one hit or killed every two and half days, according to the local Labor Daily.

In August, a delivery man in east China's Zhejiang Province went through a red light and crashed into a Rolls-Royce, doing enough damage for the courier to be hospitalized. Fortunately the Rolls-Royce owner did not ask for compensation, but did advise the courier to be more careful.

"I often see delivery men riding on sidewalks because they are always in a hurry," said Zhang Weiqiang, a resident of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Feng Leilei, a delivery man in Beijing, said that he receives a minimum monthly wage of 3,000 yuan. For each order he delivers, he gets an extra 6 yuan, but only if there are no complaints or bad feedback.

"If you want the money, you must deliver on time," Feng said.

"Some customers just cannot wait one extra minute," said another delivery man Wang Long. "Once I was late and the customer not only refused the food, but also filed a complaint against me."

Wang explained that it takes time to wait for the food to be cooked in restaurants and, during rush hours, they have to go on sidewalks or take shortcuts to deliver on time.

"If you take more than half an hour, 2 yuan will be deducted," Wang said.

"Customers should be understanding of the delivery men's problems," said Beijing resident Pu Xiao.