It’s the last week of October, but how many Filipinos know it’s also Consumer Month?
Since 1997, through Presidential Proclamation No. 1098, the country has been marking Consumer Welfare Month every October.
But, while there is much fanfare in commercial establishments for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, Thanksgiving and Halloween —which are not even Filipino holidays—I hardly see signs that honor the consumer, which represents every Filipino, including infants.
I don’t remember seeing signs in any of the establishments I visited this month informing consumers they are October’s honorees.
I also don’t know who is in charge of organizing activities for Consumer Month; apparently there’s much to be done about the public’s lack of awareness of Consumer Month.
I don’t even fully understand what this year’s theme, “Consumer Protection in the Asean Economic Community,” means.
A suggestion: Why not ask business establishments, including service providers, that instead of honoring fathers, mothers and grandparents— which Filipinos do every day anyway—to show their gratitude to Filipino consumers the whole month of October?
After all, the loyal patronage of Filipino consumers have made business establishments to grow to gigantic proportions. Occasional sales offering tiny discounts are not enough.
Organizers of Consumer Month should conduct information and education campaigns to tell consumers what benefits they are entitled to, what kind of services are available to them, and what they are getting out of every peso they spend in these businesses, among other things.
October should be spent reminding consumers about their rights and privileges; updating them on progress, if any, in efforts to protect them; and encouraging them to be proactive.
The month should be spent getting consumers’ feedback and reaction to pending bills that will amend the Consumer Act of the Philippines and others that will have an impact on them.
Fancy ceremonies to open and close Consumer Month do not serve the purpose of the presidential proclamation: “The celebration highlights the basic rights of consumers to quality, affordable, safe and effective products and services. It also reminds consumers of their responsibility to be critically aware in every aspect of consumption.”
The Department of Trade and Industry, consumer advocates and groups committed to protect the consumers should make October a real opportunity to turn the Filipino into an informed shopper, able to make intelligent choices and wise decisions.
If government agencies fail in this task, nongovernment organizations and civic groups should pick up the slack. All of us, after all, are consumers.
Senior citizen discounts
Big establishments with branches in different parts of the country should make clear their policies in granting senior citizen discounts. This is true of franchisers, too.
At the very least, they should require branches and franchisees if they adopt policies different from those of head offices, to make sure customers are fully informed of the differences.
I get several complaints from people saying they do not get the discounts that Metro Manila establishments give when they visit provincial branches. Many franchisees, even in the metropolis, also have different interpretations of how much discount senior citizens are entitled to.
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 [email protected]