RETAILERS, including online sellers, have been warned to display appropriate prices for goods on sale, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) describing as “shady” the practice of only releasing the price of online goods via private messages (PMs).
In a statement on Wednesday, the DTI’s Consumer Protection Group said Article 81 of Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act requires the appropriate display of goods prices, more than which retailers are not allowed to charge.
It said business owners also need to comply with Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7581 or the Price Act, which regulates pricing of basic necessities or prime commodities. The law considers the absence of price tags on such goods “prima facie evidence of profiteering.”
The DTI added that it launched an online campaign against PM price inquiries, cracking down on online vendors who hide prices as a marketing strategy in violation of the Consumer Act.
“The ‘PM Sent culture’ is the shady practice of online sellers who send private messages to consumers inquiring on the price of a product,” the DTI said, adding that such violators are liable for fines of P200-P5,000 as well as imprisonment of between one and six months.
The DTI said it recently issued Joint Administrative Order (JAO) No. 22-01 which sought to consolidate all the rules for online businesses, including their obligation to display prices.
“We are firm in enforcing these laws, especially on the requirement of price tags, to ensure consumers’ right to choose quality products at reasonable prices,” Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo said.
Other signatories to the JAO were the Departments of Agriculture, Health, and Environment and Natural Resources, as well as the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and the National Privacy Commission. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave