You may have been on the receiving end of lousy repair jobs or defective items after you paid for it. What do you do when it happens? Do you insist on a refund? Or do you just chalk it up to experience and never go back to the store? Both scenarios are valid, but it pays to know what your rights are as a consumer.
We asked Zenaida C. Maglaya, undersecretary of the Regional Operations Group of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), to help clarify issues like the “no return, no exchange” policy and warranty.
1 Can a store have a “no return, no exchange” policy? Simply put, no, and that’s according to the Consumer Act of the Philippines. You have every right to return defective goods, exchange for another product, or get your money back.
2 When am I entitled to an exchange, repair, or refund? Under the law, you are entitled to a refund, exchange or repair if something you bought is faulty or defective and you were not aware of it at the time of purchase, does not do the job you were led to believe it would do, does not match a sample you were shown, or was not as described on the box or in an advertisement.
3 Can a store exercise only a policy of exchange but not refund? Consumers are entitled to either an exchange or refund, as long as there is a defect in the quality of goods or imperfection in the service.
4 If the defect is due to mishandling on my part, can I still return the item and demand an exchange or refund? Unfortunately, no. The prohibition covers only hidden defects, shoddy goods, or imperfect service. You can’t also return it just because you had a change of heart.
5 Is there a time limit within which I may return defective products? Some stores set specific terms or a time frame as to when an item can be returned—it can be seven days to 30 days. There is no hard and fast rule on the period, but you need to take into consideration the nature of the item purchased and the express/implied warranties mandated by law. So make sure to check with the store before you purchase an item.
6 Can I return defective goods without the official receipt? Your official receipt is the best proof of purchase to get a replacement, repair or refund. You may still demand replacement or refund if you can prove that a defective item was bought from a certain store. Stores often ask for the original packaging as another proof of purchase.
7 Can a store impose the condition that items can only be exchanged once? No. You can have merchandise exchanged many times, as long you choose the option of replacement. But they do not have to give a refund if you cannot prove that you bought the item (e.g., you don’t have a receipt), you changed your mind on the purchase, damaged it, or knew or should have known about a fault when you bought it.
8 Do all products get a warranty? Virtually everything that is bought comes with an “implied warranty,” a guarantee on the quality of goods or services purchased that is not written down or explicitly spoken. There are two kinds of implied warranty: one for “merchantability” (i.e., that the item will work) and one for “fitness” (i.e., the item will work and serve a specific purpose). An “express warranty” is activated upon your purchase of a product.
The seller and the consumer may stipulate the period within which the express warranty shall be enforceable. If the implied warranty accompanies an express warranty, both will be of equal duration. Any other implied warranty shall be for at least 60 days and no more than one year following the sale of new consumer products.
9 What if the store refuses to act on my complaint? You need to file a complaint. Provide the following information: your name and address, the name and address of the store or service provider you are complaining about; and a narration of facts (don’t forget to include dates). Attach your proof(s) of transactions and send it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may personally visit and submit documents to the Public Assistance Desk (PAD) at the DTI head office at G/F Trade and Industry bldg., 361 Sen. Gil J. Puyat Avenue, Makati City. You may also call (+632) 751-3330 or DTI-FTEB Mediation Division (+632) 751-0384 local 2223 and 2231. There is possibly a mediation conference that will follow. If it does not result in a resolution, arbitration, similar to a regular court healing, will happen.
Aside from DTI, complaints about certain merchandise are may be attended to by the government agency covering your merchandise’s industry. Have issues about your mobile phone bill? Forward your complaint to the National Commission of Telecommunications. Have complaints on the poultry and meat you bought? You’ll want the National Meat Inspection Service. Find all the agencies and consumer concerns they cover here.