Restaurant owner dies after Coupang Eats star rating dispute

Occurred: June 2021

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A restaurant owner in Seoul, South Korea, collapsed and died from a brain haemorrhage due to unreasonable demands for a refund made by a customer who ordered food through food delivery platform Coupang Eats. 

The incident resulted in protests by civic groups critical of the company's focus on cutting costs and improving delivery speed, ignoring the ability of restaurant owners and other suppliers to defend themselves, poor transparency and communications, and poor worker safety and working conditions.

The customer demanded a refund of 2,000 won (USD 1.77) on the basis that one of the three fried shrimp the restaurant delivered was a 'strange color', verbally abused the owner of the restaurant owner and insulted her parents and, despite receiving a refund, left a one-star rating.

According to the owner's family, Coupang Eats did not try to arbitrate in the dispute between the owner and the customer. Instead, it simply asked the owner to comply with the customer's demands.

Coupang Eats later apologised and said it would set up a department dedicated to protecting restaurant owners, in addition to introducing a function whereby owners can respond to poor reviews.

Operator: Coupang/Coupang Eats
Developer: Coupang/Coupang Eats
Country: S Korea
Sector: Transport/logistics
Purpose: Rate products/services
Technology: Rating system
Issue: Robustness; Ethics; Employment
Transparency: Governance; Complaints/appeals; Black box; Legal; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: March 2022