Photo by RetiredNoWay
The joint congressional committees on trade and industry has approved a bill making it unlawful for any business establishment to shortchange a customer.
The bicameral conference committee headed by Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce and Entrepreneurship and Las Piñas City Rep. Mark Villar, chairman of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, approved the Committee Report on House Bill 4730 and Senate Bill 1618.
Villar said the proposed law seeks to protect consumers from unfair trade practices. “The measure will strengthen the protection of consumers specifically in the purchase of commodities or goods for sale or availment of services,” he said.
Villar said the bill directs business establishments to use price tags; whenever appropriate, indicating the exact retail price per unit or service, which already includes the taxes applicable to the goods or services being offered.
The bill mandates the business establishments to put up signs in conspicuous places within the establishments or reflect in the official receipts issued, the taxes incorporated in the retail price per unit or services.
“This will avoid misleading the consumer as to the exact price they have to pay for the goods or services and consequently, the exact change due them,” Villar said.
The measure was filed in response to numerous complaints in the past from consumers about the practice of business establishments of not giving the exact change or of giving the change in kind (such as candies).
While admitting that the complaint might be true in some instances, businesses attributed this to a “coin shortage” or the difficulty of sourcing coins from banks.
The bill imposes a fine ranging from P500 to P25,000 or 3 to 10 percent of the gross sales of the business establishment, whichever is higher; and suspension or, at most, revocation of license to operate for repeated offenses.
In the previous meeting of the House Committee on Trade and Industry, the representatives of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) expressed their support for early passage of the proposed law.