Woman who ordered from Deliveroo scalded by hot tea from 'improper packaging'

Woman in dispute with Deliveroo alleges food delivery mishap caused scars

Woman gets scalded with hot tea after she received her order from a Deliveroo rider. She is now seeking monetary compensation for the trauma and scarring she has suffered.
The paper bag (above) that Ms Puri said her food and tea were delivered in. Hot tea spilled through the bag, scalding her thigh and leaving scars later.
The paper bag (above) that Ms Puri said her food and tea were delivered in. Hot tea spilled through the bag, scalding her thigh and leaving scars later. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SONUM PURI
The paper bag (right) that Ms Puri said her food and tea were delivered in. Hot tea spilled through the bag, scalding her thigh and leaving scars (far right) later.
Scars seen on Ms Puri's thigh after hot tea spilled through the paper bag which her food and tea were delivered in. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SONUM PURI

It was a habit for Ms Sonum Puri to order breakfast to be delivered to her home in Tanjong Pagar.

But on April 27, after a rider from delivery company Deliveroo had handed over the paper bag containing her order, hot tea leaked from it and spilled onto her left thigh, scalding her, the 29-year-old technology consultant told The Straits Times.

She sought treatment the same day and showed The Straits Times a copy of her medical bill from MHC Medical Centre, which amounted to $122.

She also produced photos of her scars and the paper bag, which ripped after the tea had leaked.

While the blisters have healed, the scars remain despite the daily application of a scar removal cream, she said.

Ms Puri alleges that the tea from Group Therapy Coffee's Duxton Road cafe had not been secured properly for delivery and had spilled in the bag. However, attempts to settle the issue with Deliveroo and the cafe have dragged on for over a month.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, Group Therapy Coffee's group operations manager Weilin Loh said a review of closed-circuit television footage in the cafe showed the tea had been put in a cup holder before being placed in the paper bag, in accordance with its standard procedures for delivery.

The rider had also checked that the items were correct and secured before delivery, she said.

"We do remind riders also if there are delicate items inside like poached eggs, and they are generally quite careful. This is the first time something like this has happened," said Ms Loh.

Deliveroo said the incident is under investigation and that it is in communication with both parties.

In the meantime, as a gesture of goodwill, it has credited Ms Puri's account with the cost of the order.

The London-based start-up, which entered the Singapore market last November and has more than 1,300 restaurant partners here, said all hot drinks are placed in cup holders inside thermal delivery bags to prevent spillage and ensure that the packaging is retained.

It said while it provides guidelines for its partners' packaging, the restaurants are ultimately responsible for ensuring the packaging is secure.

Food delivery services foodpanda and UberEATS said they had not had such incidents.

Foodpanda chief executive Jakob Angele said that under the company's guidelines, hot drinks must be sealed and liquids must be strapped in the delivery bags for transit.

Ms Sharon Chang, owner of Jab Coffee at One Raffles Place, which partners both Deliveroo and foodpanda, said she has not had any complaints from customers about spills during delivery.

"After hearing about this, I'll remind our baristas to make sure the lids are secured," she said.

Ms Puri said she was offered $30 off her next order by Deliveroo, but does not plan to use them again.

She is seeking monetary compensation for trauma suffered and scarring, and is considering all her options if an agreeable settlement cannot be reached.

"I think they are both accountable, but Deliveroo should make sure that they take a final check to make sure that food is not spilling out before handing it over," she said. "I want to stop this from happening to someone else."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline 'Scalded by hot tea from 'improper packaging''. Print Edition | Subscribe