When you talk of fundamental consumer rights in the Philippines, this was almost nonexistent almost to the end of the 20th Century. There was no such thing as consumer rights Philippines in the country. Consumers buying even from large and famous department stores had to be extra careful with purchases because return policies and refunds were granted only as extreme exceptions. Sellers did business with an arrogant caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) attitude.
Then in 1987, the new Philippine Constitution suddenly provided a provision for consumer rights and protection against trade malpractices and substandard or hazardous products. It was followed in 1992 by Republic Act No. 7394 (RA 7394) or the Consumer Act of the Philippines. Suddenly, things turned around for consumers, who now knew that their consumer rights were protected under the law and were effectively being enforced. Small, medium, and large businesses from every sector had to comply with the laws.
Aside from the Constitution and the Consumer Act, other laws have been passed to complement consumer protection and consumer rights Philippines:
- Credit Information System Act of 2008
- Data Privacy Act of 2012
- Electronic Commerce Act of 2000
- Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010
- Food Safety Act of 2013
- Magna Carta for Disabled Persons of 2006
- National Payment Systems Act of 2018
- No Short-Changing Act of 2016
- Philippine Competition Act of 2015
- Philippine Lemon Law of 2013
- Price Act of 1992
- Toy and Game Safety Labelling Act of 2013
- Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008
How Does the Consumer Act Protect the Basic Rights of a Consumer?
RA 7394 provides the obligations and liabilities of all sellers, suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, and producers and includes penalties of fees, fines, and imprisonment for committing prohibited acts. It also enumerates administrative sanctions, such as issuing a cease and desist order.
The Consumer Act generally covers the following consumer rights Philippines:
- Compulsory labeling and appropriate packaging.
- Consumer complaints.
- Consumer credit transaction.
- Consumer product and service warranties.
- Consumer product quality and safety.
- Food, drugs, cosmetics, and devices, and regulation of their production, sale, distribution, and advertisement protecting the health of consumers.
- Liability of manufacturer, producer, and any importer of defective products.
- Misleading advertisements and fraudulent sales promotion practices.
- Protection of consumers against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales acts or practices.
- Protection of consumers against substances that is hazardous to health and safety.
- Regulation of practices relative to weights and measures.
- Regulation of repair and service firms.
Government Agencies Responsible for Enforcing/Implementing Consumer Protection
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is the primary government agency responsible for enforcing the provisions of the Consumer Act. However, other government entities are tasked with implementing provisions on consumer protection that fall under their jurisdiction. These are:
- Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) – All sectors and institutions it regulates, including credit card transactions, banking, and financial institutions performing quasi-banking functions.
- Credit Information Corporation (CIC) – Consumer credit reports and information.
- Department of Health (DOH) – Products and services connected to food, drugs, cosmetics, and substances.
- Department of Agriculture (DA) – Agricultural products and services.
- Insurance Commission (IC) – Products and services connected to insurance companies and mutual benefit associations.
- National Privacy Commission (NPC) – Protection of individual personal information.
- Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation (PDIC) – Deposit insurance coverage up to P500,000 as a prescribed limit per depositor per bank.
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) – Matters connected to financing and lending companies.
What are the Basic Consumer Rights Philippines in the Consumer Act?
- Right to affordable price and good quality of products.
- Right to be protected against deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable sales acts or practices.
- Right to be protected against hazardous substances.
- Right to be protected against mislabelled food or products. It also includes the visibility of price tags on products.
- Right to be protected from false, deceptive, or misleading advertisements and fraudulent sales promotion practices.
- Right to consumer product and service warranties.
- Right to consumer product safety.
- Right to file a consumer complaint to seek redress for grievances.
- Right to prepay credit without penalty.
- Right to repair, replace, or refund defective products. It is related to the “No Return, No Exchange” under the law.
Are There Certain Philippine Consumer Rights That Consumers Should Watch Out For?
The “No Return, No Exchange” policy on defective items is illegal.
Under the law, the implied warranty is that businesses should sell items that are not defective, even if the seller is unaware of any hidden defects. It is the warranty against hidden defects. If the item cannot be repaired, the consumer can request a replacement or a refund. The seller cannot dictate either of these to the consumer.
Note that this implied warranty doesn’t apply to second-hand items unless the seller provides an express warranty. It is why asking for a warranty when buying second-hand items is advisable.
The prohibition of the “No Return, No Exchange” policy applies only to defective items. It is not applicable when the consumer changes their mind and wants another thing.
The Price Tag Requirement
Under the law, it is unlawful not to have an appropriate price tag, label, or marking indicating the price of a product. Products also cannot be sold at a price higher than the stated price. In short, an item must have a clear price tag like what you are charged. If not, this is grounds for a complaint against the store or business.
The Consumer Act applies to online shoppers.
The consumer rights of face-to-face and online consumers, including transactions, are the same as those covered by the Consumer Act. Another law, RA 8792, or the Electronic Commerce or E-commerce Law, provides penalties that apply to those who violate the consumer rights of online consumers under the Consumer Act. Also applicable is RA 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. This law regulates the access and use of cyberspace. When transacting using a credit card or other online tool, RA 10870, the Philippine Credit Card Industry Regulation Law, RA 8484, or the Access Devices Regulation Act are also applicable.
Prepayment penalties are illegal.
A person to whom credit is extended has the right to prepay the unpaid balance of any consumer credit transaction in whole or in part. It is guaranteed under the Consumer Act. It is paying the debt even before the due date. Under the law, there should be no penalty imposed on prepayment. It makes all prepayment penalties illegal. However, some unscrupulous lenders rename this penalty a “processing fee.” Before signing or clicking on any loan application, ask the lender what fees they charge.
Filing a Consumer Complaint with DTI
To file a complaint against any violation of the consumer’s rights, you can download the DTIs Complaint Form on their official website. You can also send a formal complaint letter containing the following:
1. Complete name, address, email address, and contact number of complainant and respondent.
2. Narration of events and facts.
4. Scanned and attached proof of transaction and any government-issued ID of the complainant.
For complaints against online sellers, refer to the DTIs official website where to send complaints.
Knowing your rights as a consumer in the Philippines is an essential part of staying safe and secure when shopping. As you’ve learned from this blog post, there are numerous laws in place to guarantee quality products or services for your hard-earned money. These laws are enforced by government agencies and organizations dedicated to protecting consumers. It is their job to ensure that all Filipino citizens are aware of their consumer rights and that companies abide by these legal rules. Becoming familiar with these consumer protection policies is key to making sure you can make informed decisions when it comes to purchases in the Philippines- whether it’s buying an item or a service. Take heed to the information presented here, shop smartly, and have peace of mind!
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