The Consumer

Time to improve protection for credit-card holders

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In a speech during the recent annual convention of the Chamber of Thrift Banks, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando M. Tetangco  Jr. announced that the BSP had created the Financial Consumer Affairs Group (FCAG).

Tetangco said the body “is set up as a clearing hub for complaints and as a redress mechanism so that those who have clearly been victimized through no fault of their own do not have to suffer the added penalty of delayed attention.”

He added that BSP, the country’s top monetary policy-making body, “is in the early stages of formalizing specific standards for consumer protection, including how banks should handle consumer complaints.”

Even more significant was his statement that, “This move is aimed at elevating consumer protection to a stature of a core bank function, and not simply an ancillary advocacy.”

This move cannot come too soon for credit-card holders, especially with the alarming increase in fraudulent use of credit cards in the country.

Just days before the governor delivered his speech, at least two readers complained that their cards, which they had all along, were used to purchase high-ticket items. The complainant from Bulacan said his card was used to buy a laptop in Palawan, although he had never been there.

Another reader from Bicol said her card was used in Metro Manila when she was at home and nowhere near the National Capital Region during the time of purchase.

Even more frustrating for both was that the banks that issued their cards ignored their complaints, insisting the purchases were legitimate and demanding payment.

The Bulacan cardholder said his bank insisted they called him before the purchase was approved, but he swore nobody telephoned. While it may be more difficult (but not impossible) to verify the whereabouts of the Bicol resident since one can travel by road, any trip to Palawan by the Bulakeño can easily be verified. One either flies or travels by ship to the island, and both airline and shipping companies have passenger manifests.

Unsolicited advice

A reader is asking this column to pass on to Bench her request for the major chain to tighten up its security. She said she was victimized by a pickpocket inside the Bench store at SM North Edsa. She asked the store personnel if they had closed circuit television (CCTV) so they could review footage and possibly identify the thief.

The store people told her there was none. Worse, they said it was not the first time a customer was victimized. “It seems stolen wallets get dumped there,” she said.

The reader suggested that, in addition to spending money on billboards and other forms of advertisement, Bench should also invest in measures to keep its customers safe and secure. She alleged, “Their customers are being targeted precisely because those thieves know they don’t have security in place.”

Rotten fruits

Another reader is asking supermarkets to make sure their produce people can tell fresh from rotten fruits. She said she asked her son to get her some fresh fruits from Landmark supermarket in Trinoma, but it seemed the supermarket employee could not tell fresh from rotten, even after the fruit was peeled.

The reader’s son also did not know better so he brought home the produce, which ended up in the trash bin.

I myself usually buy fruits and vegetables from supermarkets, so I also expect store personnel to be able to tell me if what I am getting is fit for human consumption.

Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts, 1204 Makati City; fax 8974793/94; or e-mail lbolido@inquirer.com.ph.

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