‘No Indian/Pakistan riders’: Deliveroo closes customer account over racist comment

Deliveroo drivers staged a strike outside the company’s main Sheung Wan office in 2018. Photo via Vicky Wong.
Deliveroo drivers staged a strike outside the company’s main Sheung Wan office in 2018. Photo via Vicky Wong.

Deliveroo closed a customer’s account Thursday after ethnic minority staff expressed outrage over a customer demanding “no Indian/Pakistan rider” in a recent order. 

Leslie Chan, a district councilor in Yau Tsim Mong, told Coconuts he received a screenshot in a WhatsApp group with delivery workers in the district. The screenshot, taken from the Deliveroo app, showed a customer’s order “instructions.”

“[C]an leave at door after ringing the bell, no Indian/Pakistan rider please,” the customer wrote.

A Deliveroo customer demanded 'no Indian and Pakistan rider' in a recent order.
A Deliveroo customer demanded “no Indian and Pakistan rider” in a recent order. Photo via Facebook / Leslie Chan KL

The screenshot was shared on Twitter, where users accused the customer of being blatantly racist to the thousands of South Asian workers in the city who have taken up food delivery work during the COVID-19 epidemic.

One person wrote:  “[T]his is so unacceptable! Each & every rider takes risk to deliver food at your door for your convenience, how come one be so rude?…#HongKong ppl can’t you be grateful for their hard work?”

Yau Tsim Mong district has the highest population of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong. Chan, who serves the area, told Coconuts that it is not the first time he has received complaints from ethnic minority residents about racist treatment.

Chan wrote on Facebook that he requested that Deliveroo investigate the incident.

“This type of discrimination not only affects the morale of delivery workers, but also reduces their job opportunities,” Chan said, adding that the customer’s racist order breaches the city’s Race Discrimination Ordinance.

Greg Kwan, head of Deliveroo’s PR responded to Chan later in the evening. He explained that the company is saddened that a customer “made an improper delivery note” and emphasized that Deliveroo has a “zero tolerance policy” towards discrimination.

Kwan said Deliveroo had permanently terminated the customer’s account and will take similar action if such comments are made by other customers in the future.

The incident comes after Raymond Ho, head of the Health Promotion Branch at the Center for Health Protection, singled out ethnic minority groups earlier this week for engaging in “behaviour” that puts the public at risk of infection.

They have many family gatherings and like to gather with fellow countrymen,” said Ho in a Jan. 18 press conference. “They like to share food, smoke, drink alcohol and chat together. If it is without masks, the risk is high.”

The Yau Tsim Mong area, home to many ageing tenement buildings crammed with subdivided flats, has emerged as the city’s newest COVID-19 hotspot in recent weeks.

Many were angered over Ho’s comment, fearing that the health official’s race-tinged comment could set a precedent for local attitudes towards the city’s ethnic minority communities.

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