1. The Right to Basic Needs

  The first consumer right is THE RIGHT TO BASIC NEEDS which guarantee survival, adequate food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and sanitation.

 You may look forward to:

  •    The availability of basic and prime commodities at affordable prices and of good quality.

  What to do:

  • Prioritize your needs
  • Look for quality, not quantity
  • Be quality conscious, not brand conscious
  • Do not engage in panic-buying
  • In times of crisis/calamity, be vigilant in ensuring that basic commodities are available in the market

 If you are not satisfied:

  • Keep in mind that the highest priced or most expensive products in the market may not necessarily be the best in quality
  • Be vigilant in ensuring your continuous access to a wide assortment of competitively-priced goods & services.
  • Ensure also that in times of crisis, the prices of commodities do not increase excessively or unreasonably.

 

2. The Right to Safety

 The second consumer right is THE RIGHT TO SAFETY which is the right to be protected against the marketing of goods or the provision of services that are hazardous to health and life.

 You may look forward to:

  • Manufacturers of consumer products to undertake extensive safety and performance testing before selling their products in the market.
  • Labels which contain the proper information as regards the product, its use and how to operate it and precautions or warning signs.

 What to do:

  • If you have sensitivity to a certain ingredient, it would be very beneficial if you read all labels and product circulars before using a certain product
  • If you are in a store and have doubts about the product's effectiveness, ask for a person who knows how the products works or how to operate
  • Keep certain products out of the reach of young children. Watch out for special warning signs in the label of the product like "NOT SUITED FOR CHILDREN BELOW FOUR(4) YEARS" or "POISON: For external use only etc."
  • Before buying products especially in cases when only large containers are available, it would be best if you ask for a sample or tester
  • Be on guard regarding products which are found to be hazardous, you can scan newspapers regularly for new bits on this topic

 
If you are not satisfied:

  • If no one in the store can explain to you satisfactorily things about the product, try to contact the manufacturer and give the pertinent details needed such as code/lot/batch numbers and date of purchase for easy product identification.
  • If you have doubts about the safety or proper performance of a product, go back to the store with your official receipt. To save time, jot down your questions.

 

3. The Right to Information

The third consumer right is THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION which is the right to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labeling and the right to be given the facts and information needed to make an informed choice. 

You may look forward to:

  • A complete information about the product to be purchased including its use, ingredients / chemical contents, precautions, if any, limitations and expiry date.

What to do:

  • Before purchasing a product, it is very important for you to read the label carefully so that you would be able to know its use, content (chemical ingredients), number of pieces, how to care for the product
  • Before signing any document like warranties and guarantees, credit items or services contacts, it is important to read and understand all provisions in the documents especially the fine prints
  • It is very important to read newspapers, buying guides, magazines before purchasing a product. Also, consult with friends who you know have purchased a similar product
  • If you need to clarify something regarding the use of the product, don't hesitate to write the company so that you can obtain a detailed information
  • It is imperative to look for the name and address of the manufacturer in case the need arises.

 If you are not satisfied:

  • It would be advisable to contact the manufacturer and/or distributor directly who will be in the best position to give you detailed information about the product.

 

4. The Right to Choose

The fourth consumer right is THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE which is the right to choose products at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.

You may look forward to:

  • A wide array of goods and services which are offered in the market with diverse brands, sizes, shapes and colors with differences in the price, quality and use.

What to do:

  • Specify what you really want. The biggest size may be cheaper but it may not be what you need.
  • Canvass price before purchasing a product or signing a contract.
  • Read the manuals or instructions carefully to be able to compare one product with another because in this way, you will not miss the fine prints which might contain the information you need to determine which product would serve you better.
  • If product tester are available, be sure to try one.
  • Be wary of special offers like free items or buy 2 take 1 free. Compare them with the regular priced items to be sure that you are not paying for the said free items.

 

5. The Right to Representation

The fifth consumer right is THE RIGHT TO REPRESENTATION which is the right to express consumer interests in the making and execution of government policies.

You may look forward to:

  • Legislators would propose laws that would ensure that consumers would have the chance to live a better life by getting the best value for their hard-earned peso.

What to do:

  • Read newspapers, bulletin boards in private and government offices, especially in your locality for announcements of public hearings
  • Take time to attend public hearings or even meetings conducted in your area wherein consumer issues are being discussed.
  • Be aware of how the consumer laws and regulations are being implemented in your locality.

 If you are not satisfied:

  • Write a letter to your local Sanggunian, if the issue concerns your locality. The local Sanggunian may be in the best position to recommend your proposal to the National Consumer Affairs Council (NCAC) or to the concerned government agencies.
  • Be a member of a consumer group because there is strength in number and your collective voices will effectively express your concerns.
  • Write to the Executive Director of the NCAC or to the concerned government agency and submit your written position or recommendations on issues of national importance affecting the interests of consumers, so that consumers, through the NCAC, can express their concerns and recommendations to the decision or policy makers.
  • Coordinate with legitimate/accredited consumer organizations in your area.
  • Be aware of the various proposed legislations in Congress affecting consumer welfare. Send your positions / recommendations to the legislators.

 

6. The Right to Redress

The sixth consumer right is THE RIGHT TO REDRESS which is the right to be compensated for misrepresentation, shoddy goods or unsatisfactory services.

You may look forward to:

  • Manufacturers / storeowners would replace defective goods pursuant to the provision on "No Return, No Exchange" provided in the DTI's Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 7394, otherwise known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines.

What to do:

  • In case you bought a defective product, try going back to the store where you bought the item and look for the Consumer Welfare Desk.
  • You may request a replacement, refund or if needed, have the defective item repaired.
  • If the manager or store representative does not act on your complaint, proceed to the agency which has jurisdiction over your case.
  • Bring the necessary documents like complaint letter and a copy of your receipt and other documents you deem are vital for the mediation.
  • Be sure to attend the mediation conference.

 If you are not satisfied:

  • If the mediation fails, arbitration follows. Arbitration is similar to the hearing conducted by the regular courts.
  • On the first day of the hearing, the Consumer Arbitration Officer (CAO) talks to the parties for a last attempt to settle amicably the complaint. If no settlement is reached, a formal hearing will be conducted. The CAO shall resolve the complaint after formal hearing. The decision of the CAO becomes final and executory unless appealed to the concerned Department Secretary within 15 days from receipt of such decision. (Reference: JOINT DTI, DOH, DA ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 1, SERIES OF 1993 in relation to provisions of Chapter 3, R.A. 7394)

 

7. The Right to Consumer Education

 The seventh consumer right is THE RIGHT TO CONSUMER EDUCATION which is the right to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to be an informed customer.

You may look forward to:

  • Business, government and consumer would embark on an information campaign through tri-media on consumer-related issues.
  • A series of seminars, conferences, fora, training, and public hearings for the welfare of consumers.
  • Consumer education being integrated in the school curriculum from elementary to secondary levels as mandated by R.A. 7394, otherwise known as the Consumer Act of the Philippines.
  • The Consumer Empowerment Seminar organized by the NCAC.

What to do:

  • Scan newspapers, magazines and other reading materials for articles or newsbits which educate consumers on how to get the best value for their peso.
  • Involve yourself in public hearings or even meetings conducted in your area wherein consumer -related issues such as access to basic goods and services, product quality and safety, sustainable consumption and the like are being discussed.
  • Participate in seminars, conferences and fora conducted by government agencies, consumer groups and business / industry sector regarding news and regulations for consumer welfare. 

 If you are not satisfied:

  • Write a letter to consumer columnists of newspapers / magazines to share your opinions regarding a consumer issue.
  • Companies / department stores have Consumer Affairs Offices wherein you can inquire about additional information regarding aproduct or share your views on goods and services they offer.
  • Inquire about the consumer education activities being undertaken by the schools or government agencies.
  • Inform government officials in writing on issues or legislation that you think will greatly affect you as a consumer.

 

8. The Right to a Healthy Environment

 The eight consumer right is THE RIGHT TO A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT which is the right to live and work in an environment which is neither threatening nor dangerous and which permits a life of dignity and well-being.       

You may look forward to:

  • The government exerting an iron hand regarding the alarming increase in the degradation of the environment especially on forests, dying wildlife, depleted land fill space and environmental contamination to prevent furter dam age.
  • Constant monitoring of our seas, coral reefs, forest, and waste disposal being committed by factories to check if there is a violation of the laws on environmental protection.

What to do:

  • Be aware of the kind and extent of pollution occuring in your locality like air polluton, noise / odor etc. so that you would be able to address the problem
  • Do your share in caring for our environment by practicing the 3R's of environmental protection:

REDUCE - the source of solid wastes by buying earth friendly products. These are products that could be disposed properly without harming our environment.

REUSE - products and containers as much as possible. 

        RECYCLE - because using recycled products and recycling per use, will prolong the life of our landfills

If you are not satisfied:

  • Write to the local officials or to consumer organizations if you are aware of dynamite fishing, illegal logging, or other activities affecting the environment in your area.
  • Organize on earth-friendly group in your area. The main task of which is to ensure that your surroundings have clean air and clean water. Also, encourage the people in your neighborhood to practice proper waste disposal, use of recycled and recyclable materials and use of environmentally safe materials.
  • Get in touch with the nearest office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in your area.

 

Source: Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Booklet published by National Consumer Affairs Council (NCAC)