In Good Housekeeping magazine's January-February 2012 issue, they have an article on consumer rights that's quite timely now that we're about to buy things for the house. We were surprised to find that many of what we thought were standard practice turned out to be illegal...
They interviewed Zenaida C. Maglaya, Undersecretary for Consumer Welfare and Trade Regulation Group of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to help clarify the "No return, no exchange" policy and surcharges for credit card use. Here are excerpts from the article:
Is the Customer ALWAYS Right?
by Mari-An C. Santos
- Surcharging when you charge
To settle the issue on store policies regarding the use of credit cards, Maglaya cites the DTI DOA 10 Series of 2006: "Rules on Price Tags/Labels and Providing Prohibition against the Imposition of a Surcharge, Extra Charge or Additional Charge in the Use of Credit/Automated Teller Machine/Debit Cards for Payment of Purchases of Consumer Products or Services."
That is, you must not pay anything over and above the price indicated on the tag or any item you would like to purchase.
- Can a store have a "No return, no exchange" policy?
Simply put, no. According to the Consumer Act of the Philippines, 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. In this way, consumers are reassured that they have the right to return defective goods or demand remedies, in case of imperfect service.
Should you find that a store is in violation of the the prohibition on "No return, no exchange" policy, you can file a complaint with DTI. Simply provide the following information:
1. Your name and address, and that of the firm/entity being complained about
2. Acts of omissions constituting the offense including the approximate date, place, and time of its commission
3. Remedy you are seeking from the DTI, other than the damages
4. Other relevant information
- Can a store exercise only a policy of exchange but not refund?
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.
- Can I return defective goods without the official receipt?
The official receipt is the best proof of purchase. However, you may still demand replacement or refund if you can prove that a defective item was bought from a certain store.
- Can a store impose the condition that items can only be exchanged once?
No. Merchandise can be exchanged many times, as long as the consumer chooses the option of replacement.
I called up DTI and Erica told me that these policies are also applicable to custom-made furniture and not just clothes or things you can get from a mall.
She also said that for furniture (e.g. kitchen cabinets), the supplier is OBLIGATED to fix any shoddy workmanship for free. Hmmm... calling Cusm Furniture Shop...
And you know how stores give a lower price for cash purchases (books, appliances, etc.)? Erica said that they're not allowed to do that. If they offer a lower price, you should be able to use your credit card to buy the item at that price.
There's more about refunds and claiming warranties in the article but way too long to post here. The magazine is still available in newsstands.
Visit www.dti.gov.ph and www.dtincr.ph for more information.
For immediate action and to report sellers who violate consumer rights, call DTI Direct: 751 3330 or send them an email:
Mr. Ferdinand Manfoste
Assistant Regional Director