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CONSUMER EDUCATION

Click on the thumbnails below to watch Consumer Tips infomercials:

INFOMERCIALS
Online Shopping "Securitips" Suggested Retail Price (SRP)
Online Shopping "Securitips" Suggested Retail Price (SRP)
  In this 15-seconder infomercial, the DTI urges Filipino
consumers to be more vigilant when shopping online.
 
The DTI encourages Filipino consumers to use
the Suggested Retail Price as their price guide
for basic necessities and prime commodities in this video.
 
Q and A on Consumer Rights Balikbayan Box

In this 30-seconder infomercial (Q&A format), the DTI enjoins
the Filipinos to know and exercise their rights as
consumers for protection against dishonest traders
and defective products., and entrepreneurs.

This is a 15-seconder television material
showing a Filipino family with a father who’s an overseas
worker and properly sends a Balikbayan box home
 to his family that contains products for their personal use.s.

KONSYUMER ATBP

Konsyumer ATBP

Tune in to Konsyumer Atbp, (KATBP), DTI’s consumer education radio program, simultaneously aired over DZMM 630 kHz and Sky Cable channel 26, every Saturday from 10:30 in the morning to 12:00 noon. 

Learn from the timely and informative discussions of the CPG Undersecretary and DZMM’s senior reporter, “Kuya” Alvin Elchico, on pressing relevant consumer-related programs and issues. Participate in KATBP’s informative discussion and get a chance to win special prizes by sending your reactions/ comments to DZMM <space> REACT <space> MESSAGE and send to 2366.

For Facebook users, send messages and greetings online and type DZMM Teleradyo on the search box and click “Like”.  Filipinos abroad can listen to Konsyumer Atbp at www.dzmm.com.ph. Just click “Listen Live” for the free live audio streaming. KATBP is a partnership between the DTI-CPG and the ABSCBN Broadcasting Corporation for consumer advocacy.

For more information, call DTI-CPG at (+632) 751.3236. Follow us at Facebook page konsyumeratbp.

 

Bagwis Awards

The DTI-Bagwis Program gives due recognition to establishments that uphold the rights of consumers while practicing responsible business where consumers get the best value for money. The program also encourages the setting up of Consumer Welfare Desks (CWDs) or an equivalent customer relations office inside the mall that will provide information to consumers and serve as a mechanism for the speedy resolution of consumer complaints.

Bagwis Awards

For more information, go to the Bagwis Awards page.

Consumer Rights

Q: Do you know your Consumer Rights?

A: Dapat!

  • Right to Basic Needs
  • Right to Safety
  • Right to Information
  • Right to Choose
  • Right to Representation
  • Right to Redress
  • Right to Consumer Education
  • Right to Healthy Environment

Q: Like mo ba ang Online Shopping?

A: Yes! Basta May DTI Sales Promotion Permit.

Q: Ano ang mahalaga sa Label ng Produkto?

A:

  • Expiry Date
  • Product at Brand Name
  • Name at Address ng Manufacturer
  • Translation sa English o Filipino

Q: Paano makararating and Balikbayan Box sa loved ones mo?

A: Ipadala lamang ang Balikbayan Box sa mga Consolidators o Freight Forwarders na may Philippine counterparts/agents na accredited ng DTI.

Q: Ano ang SRP?

A: Ang SRP o Suggested Retail Price ay nagsisilbing gabay ng mga mamimili upang makasiguro na tapat ang presyo ng produkto.

Q: No Return, No Exchange?

A: No way! Basta depektibo and biniling produkto, pwede i-replace, i-repair o i-refund.

Q: Two Price Tags?

A: Bawal! Dapat isa lang ang presyo, cash man o credit card.

Q: Problema sa Product Quality and Safety?

A: Wala dapat! May mga Quality at Safety Standards upang masiguro ang kaligtasan at kasiyahan ng konsyumer.

Q: Surcharge sa Credit Card?

A: No! Bayaran lamang kung magkano ang nakasulat sa Price Tag.

Q: No Repair, Replacement o Refund?

A: Basta may Resibo o Warranty Card, pwede na! Lahat ng mga produkto o serbisyo na binibili ay may nakapaloob na Warranty. 

Q: Nadaya ka na ba?

A: Para makaiwas, maging alerto at wais sa mga Sales Offer na karaniwan ay hindi totoo.

No Return, No Exchange

Q: What is the legal basis of the prohibition on the “No Return, No Exchange” policy of business establishments?

A: Pursuant to the Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, specifically Title III, Chapter 1, Rule 2, Section 7 of Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2, Series of 1993, the words “No Return, No Exchange”, or words to such effect shall not be written into the contract of sale, receipt of sales transaction, in any documents as evidence of sale, or anywhere in the store or business establishment.

Q: What is the rationale for this provision?

A: The prohibition is aimed to correct the misconception of a lot of consumers today that they do not have the right to return shoddy or defective goods or de mand for remedies, in case of defective or imperfect service because of the “No Return, No Exchange” notice in the receipts or anywhere in the business establishments.

Q: Why is the presence of a “No Return, No Exchange” notice considered deceptive?

A: Such statement is considered deceptive because consumers may return or exchange the goods or avail of other remedies, in case of hidden faults or defects, or any charge the buyer was not aware of the time of purchase. By provision of law, sellers are obligated to honor their implied warranties and grant corresponding remedies to consumers.

Q: Can Business establishments still issue official receipts with the “No Return, No Exchange”?

A: The Plan has six-month objectives and three-year objectives. Business establishments with unused Official Receipts should erase or blot out the words “No Return, No Exchange” before issuing such receipts and henceforth, such words should no longer be printed in their receipts or anywhere in their business establishments.

Q: If an item bought from store Y turns out to be more expensive than a similar item in store X, can the customer return the item and ask for a refund?

A: No. While consumers have the right to choose and make a canvass of prices, once a sale in done and the product has no defect, one cannot return the goods nor ask for a refund

Q: Can a store exercise only a policy of exchange but not refund?

A: Consumers are entitled to either an exchange or refund, as long as there is a defect in the quality of goods or imperfection in the service.

Q: If the defect is due to mishandling on the part of the buyer, can he/she still return the item and demand and exchange or refund?

A: No. The prohibition covers only hidden defects, shoddy goods or imperfect service.

Q: If after buying a certain item, a customer changes his/her mind and wants to return said item. Can he/she invoke the prohibition on “No Return, No Exchange”?

A: No, the prohibition is not an excuse for the consumer to return the goods because of a change of mind.

Q: Is there a time limit within which a buyer may return defective products?

A: There is no hard-and-fast rule on the period within which a customer may return the products he purchased. A rule of reason should, however, be observed, taking into consideration the nature of the item purchased and the express / implied warranties mandated by law, i.e. Consumer Act and the New Civil Code of the Philippines.

Q: Can a buyer return defective goods without the official receipt?

A: The Official Receipt is the best proof of purchase. However, he/she may still demand replacement or refund if he/she can prove that a defective item was bought from a certain store.

Q: Can a store print in their invoices the statement “Exchange of Merchandise will not be accepted without a valid receipt or other evidence of purchase”?

A: No, because there may be goods exclusively manufactured or sold by a company and there is no need to prove purchase of the item.

Q: Can a store impose the condition that merchandise can only be exchanged once?

A: No, because merchandise can be exchanged as many times, as long as the consumer chooses the option of replacement.

Gift Checks, Cards, and Certificates

DAO 10-04: Guidelines on the Issuance, Use and Redemption of Gift Checks, Certificates or Gift Cards in accordance with Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, and for other Purposes

Gift Check/ Certificate/ Card - an instrument issued by a supplier to an individual, partnership or a juridical entity for monetary consideration evidencing a promise by the issuer that consumer goods or services will be exchanged in favor of the bearer upon presentation of said gift certificate/ check/ card to the value, credit, specific good, service or event shown in the instrument. It represents value held in trust by the issuer/supplier/distributor, thus DTI intends to regulate its use to protect consumers and ensure that they are not unduly deprived of their money

Salient Features:

  • Upon effectivity of the order, 16 July 2010, all gift checks/ certificates/ cards issued must bear a date of issue and an expiry of two (2) years.
  • Starting 01 July 2012, all suppliers, issuers, distributors and sellers are prohibited to issue and/or sell gift certificates/check/cards with an expiry date.
    • Gift certificates/checks/cards that are distributed to consumers under awards, loyalty or promotional programs are not covered.
    • All gift checks/certificates/cards with no expiry dates shall be redeemable until used by the bearer.
    • Holders of unused and unexpired gift check/ certificates/ cards after June 30, 2012 shall be entitled to replacement after revalidation by suppliers.
    • Terms and conditions of unused gift check s/ certificates/ cards issued before the effectivity of this order shall be honored; but those bearing expiry dates beyond June 30, 2012 shall be subject to revalidation or replacement.
    • Goods and services that are paid with gift certificates/check/card are qualified in promotional sales activities, loyalty programs, warranties, return policies for cash purchases, and discounts for senior citizens/persons with disability.
    • The suppliers cannot be held liable for gift certificates/ checks/ cards under that are:
      • lost due to no fault of the supplier; and
      • mutilated or defaced due to no fault of the supplier and such damage prevents the supplier from identifying the security and authenticity features thereof.

Air Passenger Rights

The Philippine Lemon Law

Q: What is Republic Act No. 10642?

A: Republic Act (RA) No. 10642, or the Philippine Lemon Law, is the act that strengthens consumer protection in relation to the purchase of brand new motor vehicles.

Q : What is the basic policy of the Philippine Lemon Law?

A : The basic policy of the Philippine Lemon Law is to promote the full protection of the rights and welfare of consumers in the sale of motor vehicles against business and trade practices which are deceptive, unfair or unfavorable to consumers and their interests.

Q : What is the coverage of the Philippine Lemon Law?

A : The Philippine Lemon Law covers brand new motor vehicles purchased in the Philippines that are reported by a consumer to be in nonconformity with the standards or specifications of the vehicle’s manufacturer or distributor within twelve (12) months from the date of original delivery to the consumer, or up to twenty thousand (20,000) kilometers of operation after such delivery, whichever comes first.

Q : Which government agency is responsible for the implementation of the Philippine Lemon Law?

A : The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is the sole implementing agency of the Philippine Lemon Law.

Q : What is a “brand new motor vehicle”?

A : A motor vehicle is brand new if:

  • The vehicle is constructed entirely from new parts;
  • Covered by a manufacturer’s express warranty at the time of purchase;
  • It has never been sold nor registered with the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) or any appropriate agency; and
  • It has never been operated on any highway of the Philippines, or in any foreign state or country.

Q : What does “nonconformity” refer to?

A : Nonconformity refers to any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of a brand new vehicle which prevents it from meeting the standards or specifications of the manufacturer or distributor.

Q : What causes of nonconformity exempt manufacturers, distributors, authorized dealers or retailers from being held responsible for defective motor vehicles?

A : 

  • Noncompliance by the consumer of the obligations stipulated under the warranty;
  • Modifications not authorized by the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer;
  • Abuse or neglect of the brand new motor vehicle; and
  • Damage to the vehicle due to accident or force majeure (an event caused by the elements of nature such as national disasters).

Q : When can a consumer avail of his/her rights under the Philippine Lemon Law?

A : A consumer may avail of his/her rights under the Philippine Lemon Law at any time within the Lemon law rights period and if after at least four (4) separate repair attempts by the concerned manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer, the defect remains unresolved.

Q : How can a consumer avail of his/her rights under the Philippine Lemon Law?

A : A consumer shall issue a Notice of Availment of Lemon Law Rights to the concerned manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer stating that s/he will avail of his/her rights provided for under the Philippine Lemon Law.

Q : What are the rights of consumers under the Philippine Lemon Law?

A :

  • When nonconformity is found on a brand new motor vehicle within twelve (12) months from its date of original delivery, a consumer may bring it before the concerned manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer for repair.
  • During repair and the period of availment of the Lemon Law rights, the consumer, as agreed with the concerned manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer, shall be provided with any of the following:
    • Daily Transport Allowance which covers the transportation expenses of the consumer to and from his/her house and regular workplace or destination; or
    • Service vehicle.
  • If after at least four separate (4) repair attempts the defect or nonconformity remains unresolved then, a consumer may issue a Notice of Availment of Lemon Law Rights to the concerned manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer.
  • Following to filing the said notice, the consumer shall bring the defective or nonconforming motor vehicle to the concerned manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer for a final attempt to address the complaint according to his/her satisfaction.
  • In case the final attempt to address the defect or nonconformity fails, the consumer may bring his/her complaint before the DTI.

Q : How will Lemon Law related consumer complaints be resolved?

A : The DTI shall settle Lemon Law-related consumer complaints in accordance to the following dispute resolution mechanisms:

  • Mediation. A conference/negotiation for both parties to settle their dispute amicably. Mediation proceedings shall not exceed ten (10) working days.
  • Arbitration. In the event that mediation fails, the complainant and respondent may voluntarily undertake arbitration proceedings wherein a third party who is chosen by both parties, will decide on the case.
  • Adjudication. Should both parties choose not to undertake arbitration, at least one of them may commence adjudication proceedings wherein a DTI Adjudication/Hearing Officer will decide on the case. Adjudication proceedings shall not exceed twenty (20) working days.

Q : If during adjudication proceedings it is proven that there is nonconformity in the motor vehicle, what are the possible remedies for consumers?

A : In case a finding of nonconformity is arrived at during adjudication proceedings, the DTI will direct the concerned manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer to grant any of the following remedies to the consumer:

  • Replace the motor vehicle with a similar or comparable motor vehicle in terms of specifications and value; or
  • Accept the return of the motor vehicle and refund the purchase price, and pay collateral charges.

Q : Can a consumer choose to replace the defective motor vehicle with another vehicle that is of higher value and specifications?

A : Yes, provided that, the consumer will pay the difference in cost.

Q : How is the value of a nonconforming motor vehicle determined?

A : The value of a nonconforming motor vehicle is determined by deducting the reasonable allowance for use from the purchase price.

Q : What is “reasonable allowance for use”?

A : Reasonable allowance for use shall mean twenty percent (20%) per annum deduction from the purchase price, or the product of the distance travelled in kilometers and the purchase price divided by one hundred thousand (100,000) kilometers, whichever is lower.

Q : What if the DTI found no defect or nonconformity on the motor vehicle?

A : The DTI shall rule in favor of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer and direct the consumer to reimburse the costs incurred by the latter in validating the consumer’s complaints.

Q : Can a decided case be appealed?

A : Yes, an appeal may be filed before the DTI Secretary within fifteen (15) days upon receipt of the decision based on the following grounds:

  • Grave abuse of discretion;
  • The decision/order is in excess of jurisdiction or authority of the Adjudication Officer; and
  • The decision/order is not supported by the evidence, or there is serious error in the findings of facts.

Q : How long does it take for an appeal to be decided upon?

A : The DTI Secretary shall decide within thirty (30) days upon receipt of the Memorandum of Appeal.

Q : Can a returned motor vehicle be resold to consumers?

A : Yes, provided that, the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer disclosed the following information to consumers:

  • The motor vehicle was returned;
  • The nature of the defect or nonconformity which caused the return; and
  • The condition of the motor vehicle at the time of return.

Q : Can a manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer be held responsible for the resold motor vehicle?

A : No. The responsibility of the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer ends upon the sale of the resold motor vehicle to its first purchaser.

Q : Can a manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer be penalized for non-disclosure of information on the resale of returned motor vehicles?

A : Yes. If found to have violated the provisions on disclosure on resale, the manufacturer, distributor, authorized dealer or retailer shall be liable to pay One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) as damages to the aggrieved party without prejudice to any civil or criminal liability that may be incurred under existing laws.

Q : When will the Philippine Lemon Law take effect?

A : The Philippine Lemon Law shall take effect on 07 August 2014 or fifteen (15) days after its publication in a newspaper of general circulation (Manila Bulletin, 23 July 2014).

Q : When will the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of the Philippine Lemon Law be released?

A : The IRR of the Philippine Lemon Law will be issued within ninety (90) days from its date of effectivity.

Q : Can a consumer invoke the Lemon Law Act prior its date of effectivity?

A : No, the Lemon Law Act has no retroactive effect.

Q : After its effectivity, can the Lemon Law Act be implemented prior the issuance of its IRR?

A : Yes. The IRR is only needed for those provisions that are not clearly stated.

Scams

FRANCHISING SCAM

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) warns the public against franchising entities that victimize mostly Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their relatives. Check for details on a franchisor's membership with the following associations:

  • Philippine Franchising Association (PFA) 
  • Filipino International Franchising Association (FIFA) 
  • Association of Filipino Franchisers Incorporated (AFFI)
  • Food Cart Association of the Philippines (FOCAPHIL) 

EMAIL SCAM

In these times of global financial crisis, scammers incessantly plot dirty tactics to lure their prey—the consumers.

One of these so-called scams is phishing. It is an identity theft scam that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the United States, according to its Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice.

Phishing scam e-mails are urgent electronic mail requests for personal information that appear to come from a legitimate institution or company. The e-mail links to an authentic-looking web page that is used to trick recipients into disclosing personal information such as credit card numbers, home addresses, and other sensitive financial information. One phishing e-mail scam reportedly lures recipients into making donations to a fake website.

To avoid falling prey to phishing and online scams, the DTI reminds consumers to keep in mind the following tips:

  • Never directly respond to an e-mail asking for personal information.
  • If you doubt a message’s authenticity, verify it by contacting the institution yourself.
  • Avoid spoofed sites by entering web addresses directly into the browser yourself or by using bookmarks you create.
  • Make sure that the web page asking for your credit card information is secure. Look for “https” at the beginning of the URL on that page, which indicates it is encrypted for security. You can also see whether a site is secure by looking at the bottom of your browser’s window for an icon of an unbroken key or lock that’s closed, golden, or glowing. Double click on the lock to display the site’s certificate, and make sure it matches the organization you think you are connected to.
  • Protect your credit card from theft or loss. Call the bank immediately to block access for lost or stolen card.
  • If you think you have received a fraudulent spam email, forward it to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC)
  • Another form of scam is through sales promotion. This happens, most of the time, inside the shopping malls where agents offer freebies such as movie tickets, rice cooker, etc. in exchange of buying something to get the said giveaways. If the consumer easily falls to their traps, it is already too late before they notice that the price of the items they bought from the assumed sales promotion is three times higher as compared to their price levels in other stores.

With this, the DTI’s Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau (CPAB) warns the public with the following tips:

  • It is not a giveaway if you are required to buy something in return.
  • Compare the price of similar items.
  • Do not easily sign contract/s.
  • Understand well the terms of the contract. Moreover, infiltrating via money transfer service schemes has also become a headache to consumers. Money transfer services appear in various sales transactions including buying products through the Internet, paying fees or charges to redeem prizes in a sales promo, once-in-a-lifetime investment, fees for abroad or for recruitment agency representatives, donation for a foundation, or paying fees or charges to get your share from the prizes won by another person, among others.
  • Secure your money. Be sure that the person to receive the money through a money transfer scheme is the one you are very much familiar with. You have to know the validated complete name, address, or immediate family of the recipient of your payment. If the offer is too good to be true, then it may not be something to believe in. Meanwhile, in buying products or seeking services via the Internet, the CPAB precautions the consumers that:
    • Some money transfer service firms do not guaranty the quality and security of the products you bought.
    • The true and complete name of the recipient should be written. Do not use alias or pseudonyms in any transaction. Buying from unknown person would not guaranty security on products or services being offered.
    • In case you suspect that the transaction is a scam, call the money transfer firm immediately.
  • Another fraudulent practice is through short messaging service (SMS) or text. In most cases, they announce thru text that you have won millions of cash prizes or a brand new car from which you have not joined on such raffle draws or contests. Here is how to determine if the message is a text scam:
    • Check the number of the sender – legitimate promos use only three or four digits.
    • Verify promo.
    • Report message and mobile number to the NTC.
    • E-mail formal complaint to NTC at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., indicate name, address and contact number, the scam message and mobile number used in the message sent. Attach scanned copy of 2 valid IDs.
    • For more information, visit the NTC website.

PYRAMIDING SCAM

Pyramiding Scam

With these various forms of scams, everyone must practice vigilance as a well-informed consumer.

Sales Talk

...should not misrepresent the product or service.

In the game of selling, advertising gets products and services noticed by consumers. Literature, printed in posters, flyers and brochures or posted on the company website, provides the important details that could push consumers into buying. But, it takes a master in the art of sales talk to win the customer and complete the sales transaction.

Yes, we are living in an increasingly impersonal, computerized world. Transactions made over the Internet are on the rise. Several local retail establishments have also put up websites where their customers can order online and have them delivered to the house.

Yet, there is no doubt that a majority of consumers still look for that human touch and continue to go to the retail outlets to buy stuff. Malls and supermarkets are packed with people even during weekdays. And, in spite of conveniences of these places offer, places like Divisoria and wet markets, where the culture of haggling and negotiating thrive, continue to give them a run for their money. Consumers want actual live people to explain the virtues of a certain product or service to them before they actually buy these goods.

Thus, in the traditional retail setting, it is the good sales persons that keep the customers coming back.

First of all, the sales personnel must be trained to deal with all kinds of personalities. Never rude to clients no matter what mood they are in. For the duration of the transaction, they are able to make the clients still feel as if they are the most important people in the world. Second, the sales personnel must know the product or service like the back of their hands. Nothing annoys consumers more than a sales person who knows squat about the item he is selling.

Most important in the art of sales talk is not to misrepresent the product or service just so the consumer would buy it. Sales talk serves to inform consumers that the product or service addresses a certain consumer need, therefore it is a given that sales talk highlights the good qualities of the goods being sold. Still, trickery and deception should never be a part of the sales pitch.

The Consumer Act protects consumers against deceptive sales practices. A deceptive sales act or practice is defined as an act on the part of the seller that induces a consumer to enter into a sales or lease transaction of any consumer product or service through concealment, false representation or fraudulent manipulation.

What does concealment, false representation, or fraudulent manipulation mean? The law cites several examples such as the following:

  • A consumer product or service has the sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, ingredients, accessories, uses, or benefits it does not have.
  • A consumer product or service is of a particular standard, quality, grade, style or model when in fact it is not.
  • A consumer product is new, original or unused, when in fact, it is in a deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed or second-hand state.
  • A consumer product or service is available to the consumer for a reason that is different from the fact.
  • A consumer product or service has been supplied in accordance with the previous representation when in fact it is not.
  • A consumer product or service can be supplied in a quantity greater than the supplier intends.
  • A service, or repair of a consumer product is needed when in fact it is not.
  • A specific price advantage of a consumer product exists when in fact it does not.
  • The sales act or practice involves or does not involve a warranty, a disclaimer of warranties, particular warranty terms or other rights, remedies or obligations if the indication is false.
  • The seller or supplier has a sponsorship, approval, or affiliation he does not have.

It is government policy to promote and encourage fair, honest, and equitable relations among parties - the seller and the buyer - in consumer transactions. Retailers are encouraged to promote transparency to consumers among their ranks. All information about a product or service, especially those that concern pricing and quality, should be disclosed to the consumer.

For instance, clothing stores sometimes goes on sale for items with factory defects. If a shirt is being sold at a discount because it has an inconspicuous hole or tear then the seller should mark the shirt where the “imperfection” is located. In this way, the consumer is informed that there is a reason for the mark -down in prices.

By giving him that information, he is given the power to choose: to buy a perfect but more expensive shirt, or a discounted one with the inconspicuous hole. If he does choose the shirt with the hole, he cannot complain that the item is defective.

Life and Death of a Product

...are determined by the consumers!

The consumer’s decision to buy is power.

Consider the ordinary housewife, everyday she has hundreds of pesos at her disposal to buy basic needs and splurge on some luxury items on what is leftover from her budget.

She is free to choose from a wide variety of products offered at the market shelves. She dictates to the market what she needs – five eggs and loaf of bread for breakfast, a kilo of fish and beef for lunch and dinner. Probably she would drop the kilo of fish and buy a pair of step-in slippers as she detours to the nearby department store.

Does anyone notice her buying pattern? Oh yes, the egg vendor lists down in her notebook how many were bought today and how many eggs must be brought in tomorrow. The department store merchandiser places a notch on the log book that the item has moved.

In the process, the consumer has revealed to the market what she needs and silently what she does not.

This is just one consumer on an ordinary marketing day.

Now, let us consider all the buyers in a single place, clearly this very loose conglomeration of individuals with million pesos of buying power can turn a market to either desolate or bustling area. Thus, the consumer together with the producer that builds the market. This constant interaction of buyer and seller develops market and that market that gives birth to towns and cities – just because there are consumers are willing to spend in a given area.

Consumers determine the life and death of a product. If they like it - more likely it will have a good shelf life - but if they love it, a bestseller is born. Meanwhile, unpopular products end up in incinerators. With this line of argument, it is also the consumer that determines the development of an industry. Thus, companies spend a lot of money to study on how consumers behave and the preferences they make. They probably would research if girls would love to wear T-shirts that show belly buttons or boys want to put on loose pants.

Companies will only supply what the consumer is willing to buy. Only a foolish businessman will offer his goods to the market without considering the needs of the consumer.

Passing by vegetable stalls or even at the Tutuban in Divisoria you will hear vendors bark “Bili na dito suki!” Come to think of it you have not even bought at the store at all in your life.

But a very important idea is being presented by a sales lady ... patronage or the choice to continuously by from establishment. Suki means you get a discount. Suki means you get more sukli or more value for your money. Their business is at the mercy of the patronage of consumers.

Unfortunately, the ordinary consumer does not understand this power. The ordinary housewife does not know how to wield this to her favor. Alas, a lot of education must be done to make the consumer a powerful force to reckon with - education that will make consumers cry out for better products.

But definitely, the power is in the hands of the consumer from which firms take their cue. Others may say it is the money that is inside the purse or wallet. But in the end, it is the decision of the person when, how, what, and where to buy. 

Purchasing Guide

Food labels can be very interesting literature. For some people, trying to decipher the cryptic text in food containers and packages is an amusing mental exercise, a kind of distraction to eating processed goodies containing multi-syllabic, hyphenated ingredients they cannot pronounce, like sodium caseinate, xylitol, aspartame, monosodium glutamate, evaporated cane juice, partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil. In the process, they would also check out the fat, calorie and sodium contents based on the daily allowable intake indicated in the nutrition label.

Many of these label readers would have no idea what the words meant. A person trying to avoid sugar, for example, would probably think that the product containing evaporated cane juice is a better alternative, not knowing that it is actually just sugar that underwent different processing. Not surprisingly, a consumer study confirms this lack of understanding of food labels among consumers.

According to a global Online Consumer Opinion Survey conducted by AC Nielsen in 2005, which polled 21,261 respondents from 38 countries from the Asia Pacific, North and Latin Americas, Africa, and Europe, half of consumers worldwide only partially understand the nutritional labels on food packaging.

Yet, in spite of this partial understanding, 20% of consumers would always check labels while 40% of consumers worldwide would check the labels when buying a product for the first time - the Philippines coming out among the top 10 countries whose consumers would do so.

The study also showed that nearly 30% read the labels whenever they would buy certain food types. Consumers were most likely to check for fat, calories, and sugar content, as well as preservatives, coloring and additives. However, 44% said they did not know the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat.

While 21,000 survey respondents would hardly be a representative sampling of the world’s billions of consumers, the study does say something important to businesses and consumers are looking for adequate information to guide them during purchases, and product information in labels and packaging is becoming a key factor in determining whether a product will be bought or not.

Labeling is a powerful marketing tool in convincing consumers to buy your product. Therefore, making the labeling information clear and relevant to the needs of consumers can be a vital step toward consumer patronage. 

Labeling, clearly, is indispensable to consumers in the exercise of their right to information and choice, and to businesses in enabling them to cater to their market’s needs and to promote their products well. But, labeling has a far more important function than merely contributing to sales; it is a double edged sword with the equal ability to misinform as much as it can provide the right information.

That is why businesses and government have a big responsibility in making sure that consumers are not only given honest information about a consumer product, but that the information does not mislead them in any way.

As a state policy, government is enforcing compulsory labeling to enable consumers to get accurate information as to the nature, quality, and quantity of the contents of consumer products. Minimum labeling requirements have been imposed for businesses to comply with such as registered trade or brand name, the business name and address of the manufacturer or importer, the general make or active ingredients, the net quantity of contents, and the country of manufacture.

Additional labeling requirements for food products have also been imposed to protect consumers further:

Food products must indicate the expiration date, whether the product is semi or fully processed, ready to cook or ready to eat, the nutritive value, and whether the ingredients used are natural or synthetic.

To address issues raised by livestock farmers and consumers as to the importation of buffalo meat from India and Kangaroo meat from Australia which are being used as substitute for cattle beef and pork in various types of meat products, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has enforced the Philippine National Standards (PNS) requiring prepackaged meat products such as corned beef to indicate the type of meat used, whether cattle beef or carabeef.

The caption “No Approved Therapeutic Claim” must be printed on the primary display panel of all labeling materials used for food supplements (i.e. immediate label of the container, box, carton, brochures, leaflets, etc.) to ensure that these products are not commercially sold or advertised with therapeutic claims.

It is up to the businesses to make sure that these labeling requirements are written in a language easily understandable to consumers but ultimately, becoming knowledgeable about the meaning of the information in labels rests solely on the consumer. After all, information is useless if it is not being read and applied.

Shopping Tips

Exposed to a variety of goods in the market and bombarded by an overdose of advertisements, the poor consumer can easily get confused. How, then, can a consumer make a sound and intelligent decision on what and how to buy? Consumers must be equipped with shopping skills and should exercise vigilance, whether buying in a supermarket or in other types of stores, if he or she wants to save precious money, time and energy. It helps to know the following tips:

  • To save time in locating products, familiarize yourself with the arrangements of stocks in the stores where you frequently do your shopping.
  • To avoid missing special, genuine sales, shop systematically up one aisle and down the other.
  • Keep a sharp eye for special price reductions of products which can be reserved for future use.
  • Be alert for low-budget, economical but nutritious recipes and other consumer product information. Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Vary your meals. Look to perk up the appetite of the family.
  • Read labels carefully and take note of nutrition information such as contents, measure, etc.
  • Look for expiry dates to insure freshness.
  • Do not be ashamed to ask the assistance of store supervisor for information or location of some items.
  • Compare prices per unit or serving.
  • Help control. Store operating costs which will indirectly affect prices. Handle merchandise carefully.
  • Go for value, not brand.
  • Time saved is time well-spent. At the check-out counter, unload items with prices showing.

Top 10 Ways to Stay Safe as a Consumer Online

  1. It can take only 10 minutes to crack a lowercase password with 6 characters. Use original and different passwords for all your accounts.
  2. Set passcodes on all your devices. Without it your apps, tickets, calendars, contacts, payment information and personal information is readily available.
  3. In 2015, 429 million identities were left exposed online. Check and update your privacy settings on social media and avoid sharing personal information online.
  4. Always set a password for access to your Wi-Fi network. Without one you don't know who you're sharing your network with.
  5. In 2015, spam email attempts to obtain sensitive information such as usernames and passwords to people's work emails increased by 55%. Watch out! Don't trust email offers or rewards which seem too good to be true.
  6. In 2016, the number of email viruses detected was four times higher than in 2015. Be aware and avoid opening unusual email attachments and links.
  7. Avoid sharing unnecessary personal details online. Use temporary email addresses which will expire within a certain amount of time when signing up to one-off services. There are websites which can set them up for you.
  8. Over half a billion digital personal records were lost or stolen in 2015. Stay safe when making payments online and only use websites that start with 'https' and have a green padlock sign.
  9. Hackers exploit out-of-date software and operating systems to launch cyber attacks. Turn automatic updates on for all your devices to stay secure.
  10. Almost 1/3 of the world's computers have been affected by malicious software. Make sure you install and update firewalls, antivirus and anti-spy software.
 
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