October is Consumer Month but did you see or hear anything about it? I know I didn’t. I e-mailed the Bureau of Trade Regulation and Consumer Protection asking for materials on this year’s observance. Usually, they are very prompt to reply but this time I did not even get an acknowledgment of my e-mail.
Ironically, it seems that this year’s theme, from what I saw when I passed by the Department of Trade and Industry building last week, is “Get organized, be heard, be empowered.” From the way Consumer Month is marked, I guess it will take a long while before consumers get heard and empowered. Many consumers probably do not even know until now that there is a whole month dedicated to them.
But consumers should not wait for a government agency to help them exercise their rights. They should speak up when they feel they are being taken advantage of. They should expect, even demand, value for their money anywhere and anytime. Most commercial establishments and businesses welcome feedback from clients, and are quick to act on legitimate consumer complaints because they care about their reputation. I say legitimate, because there are also people who complain for the most trivial reasons.
Businesses know that, with today’s social networking sites, one disgruntled customer has the potential to reach thousands of people whose business they may lose.
The Department of Health (DOH) has finally issued a warning against stem cell procedures for medical or aesthetic purposes. Secretary Enrique T. Ona stressed that the use and effects of the very new procedure were still being investigated. He was quoted in newspaper reports as saying that “stem cell therapy is not yet part of standard care.” In fact, the secretary reportedly said, while the procedure showed promise, it “is still considered an investigative procedure for compassionate use” and its application in the treatment of serious illnesses is still under clinical evaluation and study.
The DOH is expected to issue guidelines soon on the use of stem cell therapy and the licensing of facilities offering the procedure.
Stem cell therapy is still in its infancy; that is why very few experts are competent to perform it right now. It requires sophisticated equipment and the latest technology and costs a fortune. A beauty parlor is definitely not the place to undergo the therapy, even in the unlikely event it will be performed for free.
Waiting for an answer
I rarely give away my mobile number anymore because it often ends up being used by somebody who is offering a collateral-free loan, some fancy condominium unit or informing me I have again won in the seemingly never-ending raffle conducted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
But a few weeks ago, very reluctantly, I gave my number to a SkyCable customer service representative so she could respond to my query quickly. I was complaining about how my cable signal got worse after SkyCable took over my old service provider, Global Destiny. I asked if I could get a digibox because a colleague said signal improved significantly after she bought one.
Given my erratic schedule, I provided the woman from SkyCable all my contact numbers so she could reach me as soon as she had the answer to my question. Well, instead of getting an answer, I have started to receive promotional text messages from SkyCable through my mobile.
I would not have minded so much getting those messages if they only responded to my question first.
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]