Online business migration spurs consumer awareness – DTI

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), on Wednesday, admitted that there is an increase of consumer complaints that they are receiving after most buyers shifted to purchasing goods online due to the pandemic.

Trade Assistant Secretary Ann Claire Cabochan told Daily Tribune on its morning program “Gising Na!” that this, however, is a good indicator that consumer awareness is now evident to most customers.

“The pandemic has really changed the way retailers sell and we buy as consumers. Due to restrictions, the online registration has indeed ballooned,” Cabochan said. “Unfortunately, as more customers shift to online selling and buying… now there is that awareness through the use of social media.”

Trade undersecretary Ruth Castelo had also noted at the outset of the year a surge of consumer complaints against online and offline businesses by over 400 percent, or 57,839 in 2020, compared to 10,918 lodged in 2019.

Cabochan urged customers to file complaints once they encounter deceptive sales, which is a clear violation of the Consumer Act of the Philippines, particularly to those who received items that are totally different from what they purchased.

“If the seller is not minding or responding to your complaint, nor replacing the item, then it’s the right time to file a complaint to the DTI. In addition, you cannot berate the delivery men of the parcel because they are not your seller,” she said. “But the DTI is currently crafting some joint administrative issuances to address those problems. Sadly, at this point, we don’t have a law that would really pin erring sellers that use Internet transactions. We have the E-commerce Act, but it is toothless with regard to penalties. That’s why we are supporting the Internet Transactions Act,” she stated.

The DTI Assistant Secretary said complaints can be addressed by calling the DTI’s Hotline 1384 or via email at

As the Yuletide Season is fast approaching, Cabochan also urged consumers to scrutinize the seller when buying Christmas gifts online.

“Consumers should have the due diligence to scrutinize the seller. Let us know if the seller has a physical store, business registration, consumer reviews and stuff like that,” Cobochan said. “Also be a responsible consumer by supporting all local businesses, especially our micro, small and medium enterprises that are greatly affected by the pandemic. Because when we support them, we are able to grow them and create more jobs. When you buy imported goods, you are creating jobs elsewhere.”

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