HAPPY New Year!
If you make New Year’s resolutions, please add to your list that you will be smarter, more vigilant and proactive consumers in 2016.
And don’t forget to be kinder to Mother Nature because anything we do to conserve and preserve our environment is for our own good. This is our home, so let’s take care of it the way we do our own houses.
Previous experience may have made some consumers skeptical that their complaints will be heard, much less acted on. Many of you, like me, may have tried reaching out to companies through their websites but have not received even an acknowledgment of the complaint or message.
I found out recently, however, that there were companies that take feedback from consumers seriously. I sent a complaint to Union Home Appliances about my new air cooler and was surprised to receive a reply. Whoever was at the other end promptly responded to subsequent queries.
Fierce competition has made businesses more sensitive to criticism and more responsive to clients’ complaints. You may think some companies have become too big to deal with the woes of a single customer. But a harsh commentary on social media that gets shared with thousands of people can mean loss of goodwill.
It also helps that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) acts on consumer complaints promptly. Under the direction of Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba, DTI’s Consumer Protection and Advocacy Bureau, primarily through the Consumer and Trade Policy Division (CPAD), always makes the effort to resolve issues brought to its attention.
As one former DTI division chief says, businesses do not want to receive an official letter from DTI about complaints from clients regarding commissions or omissions. Establishments would prefer to settle consumer complaints by themselves as quickly as possible when it is brought to their attention, rather than have DTI asking them to do so.
That’s also the practice of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas as well as commercial banks.
Many people jokingly refer to Filipinos’ colonial mentality as “mental colony”—or the tendency to prefer anything imported over local products.
These are the folks who buy imported products just because the equivalent local merchandise may be a few pesos more expensive. They think anything made abroad is better than those made in the Philippines.
As DTI repeatedly reminds us, products have to meet both local and international standards to earn its seal of approval. The difference in prices may be due to the fact that local manufacturers have to spend more to ensure that their products pass muster.
Some foreign manufacturers do not have to pass as stringent quality control standards as local companies. Also, many of the products are brought to the country illegally and are not submitted for evaluation by DTI.
Thus, the proliferation of Christmas lights that are fire hazards, power chargers that explode, toxic toys and cosmetics, and many other things that are cheap but dangerous to health and safety.
Price should not be the only consideration for a smart consumer.
Send letters to The Consumer, Lifestyle Section, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 1098 Chino Roces Ave. cor. Mascardo and Yague Sts., 1204 Makati City; fax no. 8974793/94; or e-mail [email protected].