In the wake of the celebration of World Consumer Rights Day on March 15, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) once again reminds consumers of the importance of asserting and fulfilling their rights to overcome unfair trade practices and avoid exploitation.
“Everyone is a consumer and, as such, each of you would want to be treated safely, fairly, and honestly in every transaction you make,” says DTI in a statement issued March 28.
“To guide you, here are eight (8) basic consumer rights you are entitled to. Knowing them empowers and protects you against market abuses and social injustices.”
1. The right to basic needs. This is your right to have access to basic and essential goods and services, such as adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education, public utilities, water, and sanitation. This right also reminds you to prioritize your needs over luxuries or unnecessary wants and focus on the quality of goods and services, rather than the brand, high price, and quantity.
2. The right to safety. This is your right to be protected against the marketing of goods or provision of services that are hazardous to your health and life. You can read first the label of a certain product to see its precautions, warning signs, expiration date, and PS (Philippine Standard) or ICC (Import Commodity Clearance) marks. If needed, you can also ask for a professional consultant to learn more about a product.
3. The right to information. This is your right to be given the facts you need to make informed choices and be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling. Before purchasing a product, you can read its label carefully to know its use, content, number of pieces, proper handling, and manufacturer. Also, before signing waivers, warranties, or service contracts, it helps that you understand all the provisions written in them.
4. The right to choose. This is your right to select from a range of goods and services at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality. You can always canvass for prices of similar or wide array of goods and services offered in the market before purchasing.
5. The right to representation. This is your right to express your interests as a consumer in the making and execution of government policies. You can attend public hearings or meetings regarding consumer issues to be aware of how consumer laws and regulations are being implemented in your area.
6. The right to redress. This is your right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods, or unsatisfactory services. In case you have bought a defective product, you can return to the store, look for Consumer Welfare Desk, and request a replacement, refund, or repair of the product.
7. The right to consumer education. This is your right to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed consumer. You can read newspapers, magazines, and other materials that may educate you on how to get the best value for your money. You can also participate in seminars, conferences, and fora regarding consumer products, new concepts, and developments, which are conducted by government agencies, consumer groups, and business or industry sector.
8. The right to a healthy environment. This is your right to live and work in an environment that is neither threatening nor dangerous but rather permits a life of dignity and well-being. The government then must play its role in enforcing environmental and sanitation laws on factories, stores, and shops; while you need to reduce, reuse, and recycle the waste from your consumption.
For more information on consumer rights, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. To report a complaint on products and services, call DTI Direct 751-3330 or send a text message to (0917) 834-3330.
Photo: Wayne S. Grazio