MANILA, Philippines — In the past few years, I have received numerous complaints from Filipino consumers regarding a myriad of issues — most of them concerning credit cards.
Without most of us knowing about it, there is a way to protect ourselves from frauds and “predators” in the business and trade industry.
According to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the key to better consumer protection is knowing the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
The Consumer Act of the Philippines, Republic Act No. 7394, took effect on July 15, 1992. It promotes the State’s policy “to protect the interest of the consumer, promote his general welfare, and establish standards of conduct for business and industry.”
The Act aims to protect consumers against hazards to health and safety, and against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales acts and practices.
It also seeks to give information and education to facilitate sound choice and the proper exercise of consumer rights and to provide adequate rights and means of redress.
Lastly, it aims to involve consumer representatives in the formulation of social and economic policies.
Consumer products or services are defined as “goods, service and credits, debts or obligations which are primarily for personal, family, household, or agricultural purpose, which shall include, but are not limited to food, drugs, cosmetics, and devices.”
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is among the government agencies that implement the Consumer Act. It concerns itself with consumer credit transactions extended by banks and other financial intermediaries.
Here is a list of the other government agencies implementing the Consumer Act and their areas of concern:
* Department of Trade and Industry: consumer product quality and safety; deceptive, unfair and unconscionable sales acts and practices; weights and measures (metrication); consumer products and service warranties; price tag; labeling and packaging; liability for products and services; service and repair shops; and advertising and sales promotion.
* Department of Agriculture: agricultural products (quality and safety, and labeling and packaging).
* Department of Education: consumer education and information
* Department of Health: food, drugs, cosmetics and devices and hazardous substances (quality and safety; labeling and packaging; advertising and sales promotion; and price tag)
* Securities and Exchange Commission: credit facilities extended to consumers by financing companies.
The DTI, in a primer, said the consumer should follow this process if he or she has a complaint before the abovementioned government agencies:
* Identify the problem. Identify the problem and what you believe would be a fair settlement. Do you want your money back (Refund)? Would you like the product repaired (Repair)? Will exchange do (Replace)?
* Gather documents. Gather documentation regarding your complaint. Sales receipts, repair orders, warranties, cancelled checks, or contract which will substantiate the complaint and help the company solve your problem.
* Go back to where you made the purchase. Contact the person who sold you the item or performed the service. Calmly and accurately explain the problem and what action you would like to be taken. If that person is not helpful, ask for the supervisor or manager and repeat your complaint. A large percentage of consumer problems are resolved at this level.
* Write a formal letter of complaint. If you are not satisfied with the company’s response, write a formal letter of complaint to the consumer protection agency concerned. State your name and address; the name and address of the establishment against whom you are complaining; the circumstances regarding the complaint including names, dates, places, etc. Also, enclose supporting documents such as official receipts, deed of sale and the like, and you should be prepared to make an appearance when called, especially during the mediation conference.
For BSP-related concerns, you may contact:
Financial Consumer Affairs Group
Supervision and Examination Sector, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,
A. Mabini St., Malate, Manila 1004
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Tel. No. (02) 7087087
Note: You may email us at email@example.com.