Complaints significantly increased over the years
COVID-19 brings Filipino consumers to online shopping
MANILA – With the strict COVID-19 control measures implemented since mid-March, Filipino consumers have opted to purchase their needs from food to basic necessities online.
Trade and Industry Asst. Secretary Claire C. Cabochan said the volume of transactions significantly increased with the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking over Tapatan sa Aristocrat this morning, she said there was a sharp increase in online transactions where in social media such as Facebook Marketplace or established platforms like Lazada and Shopee.
“At the Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau, we received a total of 2,457 complaints in 2019 and from January 1 to November 15 this year, we already received 15,162 complaints,” Ms. Cabochan said. The top three complaints were related to the Price Act (49.75%), defective products (21,21%) and deceptive, unfair, or unconscionable sales acts or practices (18.65%).
A closer look at DTI records, it was found out that the total number of complaints in internet transactions increased every year, from 522 in 2016 to 848 in 2017 to 1,451 in 2018 and 2,457 last year.
She added there are enough rules and regulations provided for in the Consumer Act which provides consumers the right to seek redress of grievance through the Department of Trade and Industry.
Complaints are added to by her office where mediation and adjudication sessions take place. They also get to check additional information about the supplier’s address and if it has a physical store. There were complaints that were dismissed because of insufficient data such as no address of the complainant, the complainant has opted to withdraw the case and the same complaint has been handled by other mediator.
This year, about 9,000 complaints have been referred to concerned DTI offices or other agencies. Other cases have been archived because of the non-appearance of both parties and in some instances, only the respondent appeared.
She admitted they also refer matters to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) should they fail to locate the alleged erring supplier.
Former Trade Undersecretary and now Laban Konsyumer President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba said he noted an increase in online transactions but called on the general public to be aware of scheming individuals who prey on unsuspecting and gullible consumers.
“Consumers should be conscious enough to look into the product they buy, check on the price if it is reasonable and find out reviews on social media platforms,” he said.
Police Colonel Joel B. Doria, PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group deputy director for administration said while complaints related to cyber-libel tops their list, complaints on online shopping happens to place a close second.
“We appeal to complainants to pursue their complaints to put a stop to scheming online sellers,” Colonel Doria said.
Atty. Antonio A. Ligon said legislators should be able to craft laws that would protect consumers as technology has significantly improved. The current laws may not be able to address concerns.
“Even the Consumer Act needs to be updated with the advancement in technology,” he added.
Former Quezon City Business Permits and License Office chief and currently Quezon City PCCI chair said it would be best for online customers to pay on delivery rather than pay in advance.
“At least the consumer can refuse to accept the merchandise if he feels shortchanged,” Maghacot said. (Melo M. Acuña)
Food delivery attendants crowd at a milk tea restaurant to get their orders. This is a common sight in Metro Manila since the government issued tight preventive measures vs Covid-19. (Melo M. Acuna)