Nine Network blocked from televising restaurant home delivery “swindle” story

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 22nd March 2012

Nine Network has been blocked from airing a story on television which might have suggested Australian online home-delivery service Menulog is a “swindle”, following a ruling by the New South Wales Supreme Court.

Justice David Davies granted an injunction yesterday, sought by Menulog, preventing Nine Network from airing a report on its ‘A Current Affair’ programme about Menulog’s home delivery service.

Menulog allows members of the public to place online orders for food from particular restaurants. Each restaurant, using its own delivery service, then delivers the food ordered directly to the customer, or the customer collects the food from the restaurant.

It is understood that Nine Network’s report focused on a restaurant called Vecchia Roma, in Brisbane, for whom Menulog was alleged to have taken orders on its website but the food being delivered by a different restaurant.

A promotional clip for the Nine Network’s A Current Affair programme, that was broadcast on Thursday 15 March 2012, included statements such as “an elaborate home delivery swindle”, and “the great home delivery switch-a-roo”.

Menulog found to be not directly responsible for “switch-a-roo” incident

Menulog stated it has not had a direct relationship with the restaurant and did not send orders to them directly. Rather, orders were taken by an affiliate company called Cuisine Courier, with which Menulog has an arrangement.

Under the arrangement, Cuisine Courier processes and administrates around two per cent of orders made through the Menulog website. As a result, there are restaurants listed on Menulog’s site with whom Menulog has “no direct contractual arrangement”.

According to Menulog, Vecchia Roma was listed on its website in good faith and “in the belief that the restaurant had appropriate contractual relationships with Cuisine Courier, but now it appears that this may not be the case.”

Justice Davies stated that there is a “strongly arguable case that what is contained in the promotional broadcast and, therefore, what is likely to be contained in the full broadcast, are false statements pertaining to [Menulog’s] business”.

He also said that the evidence discloses that Menulog, through its website, was the “passive recipient” of orders placed, which were electronically transferred to Cuisine Courier without any knowledge on Menulog’s part of what happened thereafter in relation to the orders.

Justice Davies ordered the court injunction to continue until 26 March 2012 to allow for further evidence to be considered.