High delivery fees hurting the ENDS

EVEN as business operators in Portmore, St Catherine, applaud the Government for its introduction of the E-commerce National Delivery Solution (ENDS), many are expressing concern about the delivery fees charged by some entities participating in the scheme.

“The ENDS it can work but we just need to fix up the little glitches and also the delivery cost because the delivery cost can cut our orders to go out. But it can be fixed,” said Tony Jolly who operates Jolly’s Restaurant and Lounge on Port Henderson Road in Portmore.

“I am in this thing for the long haul and I think it is a very good programme but we just need to fix the hitches,” added Jolly as he pointed to a customer who cancelled a $3,000 meal order after he was told that the delivery fee would also be $3,000.

According to Jolly, one solution would be to have the delivery fees fixed across the programme. “We need to just have something that everybody can be satisfied going forward,” he argued.

Jolly was supported by other vendors, including Andre Bennett, operator of Andre’s Seafood, who told the Jamaica Observer that his entity enjoyed strong sales through the ENDs during the past three weeks of the lockdown.

“There is a lot of potential [but] I think it needs to [be] organised a bit more,” said Bennett, who also called for more advertising of the programme.

“The good thing is that without the ENDS we would have to shut down, but now I keep at least six people working to deal with the orders that come in. As mi say there is always room for improvement but I love it,” added Bennett.

Responding to the concerns about the seemingly random and sometimes high delivery fees, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Matthew Samuda, underscored that the ENDS does not have a pricing mechanism.

He noted that the ENDS is a e-commerce delivery system which is built on equity and transparency and all quick service operators and delivery services will be able to participate once they have met the requirements.

“The registration of businesses and vendors is ongoing and customers may view the current listing of approved vendors on the portal’s official website,” said Samuda.

The ENDS is a partnership between the Government and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica which allows registered entities in the quick service industry and delivery operators to operate up to midnight during the COVID-19 curfew hours.

It was piloted in Portmore on March 26 before being extended to Kingston and St Andrew and St James on April 2.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the ENDS will be expanded to additional areas by next week.

“We will make further arrangements for its expansion across the island. We are still working out some of the glitches. We are hearing the complaints, we are hearing the recommendations, and very shortly, you should see a full scaling up of the ENDS programme,” said Holness.

Under the ENDS consumers are able to choose from listed vendors and pay for their orders using a debit/credit card or a top-up voucher.

Potential vendors in participating parishes can submit applications via the system’s official website — www.ends.gov.jm. Service delivery operators will receive a unique barcode which will assist the security force and customers in verifying them as approved participants of ENDS.

The revision of the applications may take up to three days, after which vendors will know if they’re approved or not.

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