Photo: Pakutaso
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Food delivery service’s payment processing error allows some people to eat for free…for 3 years

36 Comments
By Krista Rogers, SoraNews24

“I’m being charged 60,000 yen now. I’m gonna die.” “I received a unilateral message telling me to pay up within two weeks due to a payment error.” These are just a couple of the messages that were posted to social media by users of home food delivery service Demae-can after it came to light on June 30 that an error in payment processing for certain orders over the past three years essentially allowed people to eat delivered food for free.

In a notice to affected users only, Demae-can stated that while a portion of orders placed through mobile phone carriers’ payment apps (namely DoCoMo, au, and SoftBank) were accepted and the food was delivered, a glitch in the system on Demae-can’s end caused the carriers to either refund or cancel any charges.

Here’s the tough part. The company began accepting mobile phone carrier payments on August 24, 2018 and the glitch seems to have occurred anytime between August 2018 through April 15, 2021. Demae-can is now seeking lump-sum retroactive payments from affected users for that entire duration.

This story leaves us with more questions than available answers at the time of press: Why did it take so long for anyone to catch on to the system error? How many users were affected and how much money was lost? What would happen if someone refuses to pay the money they technically owe Demae-can?

The company is yet to make a formal statement regarding the details. While waiting for further information, let’s focus on a happier memory of the company instead–like that time they teamed up with Yoshinoya to deliver beef bowls to medical workers via drone.

Source: Nikkei XTech via Hachima Kiko

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Flying beef bowls?!? Yoshinoya completes drone delivery of its signature gyudon【Video】

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-- Starbucks Delivers: New service expands in Japan with exclusive sets for delivery customers

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

36 Comments
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Sorry, Demae-can, but you're going to have to eat your losses. The customers paid in good faith and probably weren't even aware their payments were canceled or refunded due to your glitchy software. It's on you to test your software before going live with it.

26 ( +32 / -6 )

Well, you did took the food, eat it and say nothing. Eventually it will come back to bite you. There is no such thing as free lunches.

-17 ( +13 / -30 )

There are no free lunches my friends.

-10 ( +11 / -21 )

I could see the customers legally being on the hook for at least a portion of it.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

Simple. No lump sum. Just charge the customer &/or carrier in consecutive increments in the same time increments the meals were ordered. Fair for all involved.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Or, they can just take the issue to HW downtown. CEO Hitoshi Matsumoto has a history of distancing himself from issues created by inept, bumbling partners:

“I have a lot of things to say regarding this issue, but it’s too much of a hassle. Yamada’s terrible. Just hang him out to dry. It’s his fault for not turning down the proposal.”

Yamada could not be reached for comment.

“Why did it take so long for anyone to catch on to the error? How many were affected and how much money was lost? What would happen if someone refuses Demae-can?” -

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

HQ

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Graet, eat for free! why not? more i hope.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Don't know the laws in Japan, but if something is delivered to your home by mistake in the US, it is yours.

There is a moral obligation to return it or pay, but not a legal obligation. The delivery people are liable - be it the USPS, UPS, or Joe's delivery. Just be certain that your payment method hasn't been breached and that you aren't being used as a 1st-step mule.

This doesn't really happen for food, but for expensive electronics, it does happen. If a computer shows up on your door, check that none of your CCs were used. The next day, a shipping company could show up, saying they were there to pick up the item, but with a shipping address to someone else - not the vendor. This is part of a "Brushing scam."

You bought it, thought it was free, then gave it to the shipper to deliver to someone else to have/sell/trade.

Maybe offer to return the food?

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Who is responsible for payment here? Docomo, Softbank, the software company, or the customer?

I am guessing that complaints against customers can be made through small claims courts, and are therefore quicker and easier to get a judgement in. Claims against the big boys will be harder to win because they have to go through a much more expensive and complicated process. Add to that consumer protection laws are weak in this country.

Consumers often do not check their credit payments in great detail assuming they are correct.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Consumers often do not check their credit payments in great detail assuming they are correct.

I check every item on our credit card bill. Even writing down what it was for.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

The same software will now be used as "proof" of delivery. Works for me...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Not quite 100% ‘true’ in ALL ‘states’ @theFu 8:29am and definitely, not for all goods ‘delivered in error’.

- “… if something is delivered to your home by mistake in the US, it is yours.” -

California, Oregon, where? - The FBI, Homeland Security, other federal & state agencies are now jointly investigating and prosecuting a number of “consumer”-fraudsters who were discovered to be systematically take advantage of such “errors” that has now reached epidemic proportions during the pandemic lockdowns.- Fraudulent receipt of goods transported & delivered across state lines fall within the U.S.’s federal criminal jurisdictional purview.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A lawyer on a Japanese site mentioned that there is a statute of limitations for these cases. It was 1 year and last year this was extended to 5 years. So for orders up to March 31 2020, one year has passed, so you do not have to pay a dime. People who ordered from April 1st 2020 will have to pay. Enforcing this will probably constitute a challenge.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Don't know the laws in Japan, but if something is delivered to your home by mistake in the US, it is yours.

It depends on who the intended recipient is. If the intended recipient is not you, you cannot keep the item. If there was no intended recipient, as in a company sent you an item without you ordering it, you can keep the item without paying.

With this situation, the customers thought they were paying and they consumed the goods, so enjoyed the benefit of the bargain. This means the customers are on the hook for the payment.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The company ought to admit fault and either cancel the debts or offer large discounts on the debts with easy repayment plans. This will build customer loyalty.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Is Demae-can't going take everyone to court who doesn't pay?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Any reasonable and civil person would not want to damage a company's bottom line if they received the services they agreed to pay for. That is how a functioning economy works. If you see a full refund or canceled payment on your statement then you would obviously question it. Playing ignorance is not a defense. If you don't check your statements then this is really on you.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

A lot of people are suffering financial effects of Covid, not just companies.

No joy for consumers in corporatist Japan, though.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I guess that the key part here was that the customers PAID, but was given a refund by Demaecan without asking for it. It was not the customer's fault and there was no way for them to know it was a mistake rather than a gift. A lump sum is too harsh for the no-crime fault.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If there was a glitch that enabled customers to willingly circumvent the payment, they should pay for it. However, it seems that it was a glitch (bug) at Demae-can so it was their fault to start for. When it comes to hi-tech Japanese software just sucks. Actually to rephrase it, most software written by Japanese engineers sucks. I still have to figure out why when the Japanese engineers can make technological marvels like shinkansens.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@Ubesh It was not the customer's fault and there was no way for them to know it was a mistake rather than a gift.

So if you purchased $15,000 diamond ring on credit card and you found a full refund on your statement, you would simply ignore it and think it was a gift? The value doesn't matter. You received the goods/service and have a responsibility to pay for it. Of course the most logical/rational thing to do would be to contact the vendor after seeing the refund.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It's not the customers' fault that the company's software was faulty. No sale.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I dont know about contractural laws in Japan, or where any one stands. it would be down to a solicitor to go through the laws or terms and conditions on the delivery services, if some one has payed in good faith, but the payment has been declined, refunded or rejected, and the food co deliver, well it should not have gone out, so the onus is on the food co, if the food co got payed and the other co soft ware is at fault, its the soft wares problem, they should not be asking for the money. This is going to be a hard one, and it could end up in court, as peoples financial situations change, last year a person could and be willing to pay, but now hes been made redundant and hes down on his luck, how can, or will the software co be willing to chase a invoice that has no means of paying. what happens to the people that were renting a place and have now moved?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

First off, what in the world was their accounting team doing? Our finance team sends up red flags everywhere if our books mismatch by a single yen at the end of the month, nevermind this much over years.

Regardless, I feel this is on either the company or their payment processor to take the hit unless they can prove malicious intent from the end users (i.e they could prove that the user knew about the error and were actively exploiting it). That'd be a pretty hard thing to prove, so the company should probably just take the loss. It could even end up as good PR for them to forgive all the debts.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Do the right thing

3 ( +3 / -0 )

expatToday 04:03 pm JST

It's not the customers' fault that the company's software was faulty. No sale.

But you received the goods/services. You can't steal from a company. That is not how economies work.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Business 101, idiots.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My phone company did not send me a bill for over a year. When they did they wanted it all back paid in a lump sum. I contacted them and advised that I did not have that much and that I would pay it off as I could. They threatened to take me to court. I told them to go ahead. What will the court do? I had already acknowledged the debt was valid and offered to pay it off as I could in installments. Any court being told that will say it is reasonable and the phone company must accept their part in the fault, and take the repayments offered.

They did not take me to court. I paid it off in my own time. Sorted.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

These new apps suck for payment all around

On New Year's Eve I ordered some food with a coupon and ordered extra to avoid wasting any of the coupon value... so the restaurant cancels everything but doesn't refund me for what I paid out of pocket then Didi said they can't check it until the banks open but never did...

Then the next place I ordered at 'forget' one of the items but I noticed when I was taking the bag off the delivery guy

These apps are terrible

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ROFL. The company should not expect anything back from their customers.

They screwed up. They didn’t test the software and probably tried to cut corners.

The responsibility is on them.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Personally I think the company is part of the blame but if someone didn't order the food they could have simply declined it. Taking something that you didn't pay for is not right. The problem with this world now is everyone wants something for free. Nothing is free, some how some way you pay. The people who accepted the food should at least pay their fair share. I think knowning or taking something that is not legally yours so the people should pay half the cost and the company should accept that and nothing more because they are part of the problem.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Digital service companies aren't and have never been associated with organized crime in Japan. Seriously, I asked the police about it, they said it has never been the case here.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Pokémon Go! - Worldwide success!

Local food delivery & billing app - another Japanese IT/AI failure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You eat. You pay. Amusing that folks ate the food - the tendered payment was not taken from their account. Over a lengthy period. And are surprised that they are eventually billed. It wasn't free - it had an assigned price. As if they are not liable.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Besides the computer errors, apparently the accountants were not doing any cross checking between sales and expenses to find out if everything they bought was utilized properly.

That means they probably don't know how much food is wasted either.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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