Issue of October 17, 2021
Mt. Province

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Consumers reminded to be wary when shopping online
by Jane B. Cadalig

The Department of Trade and Industry has called on consumers to be more cautious in these times when business transactions are increasingly becoming non-physical.

DTI-Cordillera OIC Director Juliet Lucas said while technology has made buying more convenient, caution must be doubly observed, as unfair business and advertisement practices are expected in a landscape where the seller and the buyer do not see each other in person.

As the DTI continues to address issues involving online shopping pursuant to its mandate to protect consumers, Lucas said buyers of products and those who patronize services offered online have the responsibility to also ensure they are only dealing with legitimate merchants.

The fundamental tip the DTI has been giving online shoppers is to make sure they are patronizing legitimate platforms or those that are registered or are operating with permits.

The DTI has been warning consumers to be discerning when buying products or availing services, especially those posted on social media like Facebook.

Facebook has become the most popular marketing tool among social media platforms when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, but consumer rights advocates are cautioning buyers it is also one of the riskiest platforms.

In the Cordillera, Lucas said the DTI has received 37 complaints involving online transactions as of Sept. 30. The complaints range from non-delivery of the items ordered online, defective products, or excessive delivery charges.

DTI officials said while Facebook is popular and convenient, the risk is also greater, especially if the buyer does not personally know the retailer.

DTI Baguio-Benguet Director Samuel Gallardo said the usual problem when the office receives complaints involving products availed through social media is that the respondent or the seller can no longer be found.

“They are like ghosts. They disappear. We can no longer find them. This is why we always tell the consumers to be discerning when buying online. Always verify the authenticity of the online retailer,” Gallardo said.

The DTI is spearheading the observance of Consumer Month.

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