HCMC proxy shopping mess leaves residents high and dry

By Thi Ha   August 27, 2021 | 05:35 am PT
HCMC proxy shopping mess leaves residents high and dry
Military personnel do the shopping for residents in Covid epicenter HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
With too many orders and not enough people to fulfill them, HCMC’s proxy shopping system has left residents uncertain about when and if they’ll get the groceries they need.

Long, who lives in a District 8 "red zone" where people have been confirmed with Covid-19, has not received his groceries even three days after he placed the order.

Local officials have told him that they are overloaded and his order would be taken care of "soon." Long tried to place his order on supermarket websites, but all of them are overloaded, too.

Hang in Go Vap District shares Long’s plight. Unable to place orders with supermarkets, she called an official supposed to be in charge of doing her shopping for her, but the call went unanswered.

She finally joined a group of households ordering from an outlet of Citi Fruit, but the staff there informed her delivery might take two or three days and due to high demand, customers might only get 50-80 percent of what they order.

In District 7, after not getting anything three days after she placed her order, Thanh joined a Facebook group of residents in the same apartment building to get food for her children.

Ho Chi Minh City started implementing the proxy shopping model this week by sending military personnel, district staff and volunteers to do the shopping for residents required to "stay where they are."

However, five days on, many residents have found the model ineffective, with deliveries remaining unfulfilled.

A district official of Ward 13, Go Vap District said with limited staff, the ward cannot take care of all the orders of its residents. "There are several hundred orders each day and we cannot deliver all of them in time so residents have to wait their turn," the official told VnExpress.

Retail chains are also struggling, although most say they have enough goods in stock. A Citi Fruit representative said most of their employees are not allowed to deliver directly to customers and have to rely on military personnel or others to collect the orders, causing delays.

A VinMart spokesperson said the retail chain was seeking permission from HCMC authorities to let their employees deliver because they are vaccinated and frequently tested for Covid-19.

"If they permit, our staff can deliver the goods to customers in time and reduce the burden on the military," the spokesperson said.

Retail chain Bach Hoa Xanh, with 600 outlets in the city, has also made a similar request. Products director Nguyen Thi Ngoc Huong said the company has been trying to contact staff across wards to fulfill the high number of orders.

The company’s employees, meanwhile, are stopped at checkpoints whenever they try to deliver goods, she said. Without an improved delivery system, the chain would have to limit the number of orders it can process each day, Huong said, adding it has stopped sourcing goods for now as it waits for a better solution.

The municipal Department of Industry and Trade has said that it is considering all proposals.

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