DTI advises consumers vs deceptive sales practices PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 22 October 2010 11:04

The Department of Trade and Industry-Zamboanga City Office (DTI-ZCO) has advised consumers to be extra cautious in availing freebies or giveaways from retailers, suppliers, and manufacturers.

"Among the most common complaint received by the DTI-ZCO are from consumers approached or called by sales staff informing them that they are the lucky ones selected to win a prize. These shoppers are urged to visit or enter the store to claim the 'supposed' prize," revealed DTI-ZCO Provincial Director Engr. Rolando G. Acuna.

Since the customers are still in awe upon winning, they think that grabbing the offer is like hitting two birds with one stone; two products at the price of one. Even with the lack of relevant information and lack of sufficient time to come up with a sound decision, they relent to buy usually using their credit card since the purchase is usually unplanned.

The problem begins when the terms of the sale is revealed. The awe turns into shock when upon receiving the receipt, the price quoted reflectsthat  the price they paid grossly exceeded the price of similar products they know of. Upon summation, the customer has also paid for the "supposed" freebie.

The Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394) Title III, Chapter I, Article 50, provides for the Regulation of Sales Acts and Practices and Prohibition against Deceptive Sales Acts or Practices. It states that, "An act or practice shall be deemed deceptive whenever the producer, manufacturer, supplier or seller, through concealment, false representation of fraudulent manipulation, induces a customer to enter into a sale or lease transactions of any consumer product or service".

Article 50 protects consumers against sellers or suppliers that express false claims when marketing products or services especially that, nowadays, many of them would go to great lengths just to be able to sell and earn money.

There are various instances in which sales act or practices are determined as unfair and unconscionable, that when the consumer transaction was entered into:

•   Price grossly exceeded the price at which similar products or services were readily obtainable in similar transactions;
•   Consumer was unable to receive a substantial benefit from the subject of the transaction;
•   Seller or supplier was aware that there was no reasonable probability of payment of the obligation in full by the consumer; and
•   Seller or the supplier induced the consumer an excessively one-sided transaction in favor of the seller or supplier.

There are ways on how consumers can protect themselves against unscrupulous traders and retailers. Here are some tips to avoid
being a victim:

•   Don't rush into making purchases. Take your time to carefully read through contracts;
•   Resist high pressure sales tactics. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is;
•   Beware of unsolicited phone offers - don't be afraid to hang up on telemarketers that are too pushy;
•   Use care when giving out information such as bank account or other financial data;
•   Talk is cheap, get written estimates of the price.
•   Ask about refund policies and warranties before you buy.
•   Prepare a list of questions in advance when considering a major purchase.

Deceptive sales practices seek to exploit people's wants, needs, and general optimism. But informed consumers are better able to see through frauds and deceptions, whether they take the form of questionable claims in an ad, 'high-pitch' sales talk, offers that come in the mail Or email, Or Schemes that SOUnd like Sure deals. -- Roger D. Sarsalejo, Chief, Consumer Welfare & Protection Division, DTI-ZCO