With the convenience of buying through online sellers, we have been familiar with the phrase, ‘PM is the key’ when asking how much a particular product cost. But, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), this is illegal.
Republic Act No. 7394, or the Consumer Act, mandates all sellers to display prices of their products. Also, goods are not to be sold higher than the stated amount.
Meanwhile, Republic Act No. 7581, or the Price Act, has explicit provisions on putting price tags on products of both brick-and-mortar and online stores.
DTI Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said that selling without a tag constitutes profiteering, an illegal act of price manipulation.
The DTI official also emphasized that the law does not distinguish between online and physical stores, even if these were crafted way before the existence of modern online stores.
Sellers or stores that will not comply with the law will pay a fine ranging from P5,000 to P2 million. They may also face maximum prison time of 15 years.
Consumers who would like to lodge complaints against erring sellers or stores may report to DTI through its hotline 1384.
E-commerce and the economy
With the increase in the use of electronic transactions, through cashless payments and other financial technology platforms, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua acknowledges that online shopping and marketing platforms will play a more significant role in the new normal.
Furthermore, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) also said that e-commerce is more crucial now, and it will help revive the economy from the coronavirus. However, the government agency noted that prevailing laws, such as Republic Act No. 8972, or the Electronic Commerce Act, will need to be more comprehensive. According to NEDA, the law must specify the rights of consumers. Penalties imposed on service providers must, likewise, be strengthened.