The Christmas season is here and with it, and as an unintended consequence of a still unabated pandemic, even more people shop online as they prepare to honor the season with food and gifts for their families and loved ones. Thus, it is timely to remind consumers of helpful practices they can apply in their online shopping.

As early as January 2016, when I was the Undersecretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)  Consumer Protection Group, DTI  issued the “Gabay Tips” which provides  the reader with useful tips while shopping online. I urge my readers to check out this link:

Gabay When You Buy (Online Shopping Securitips) – YouTube

“Gabay when you buy video” urges consumers to be more vigilant when shopping online and  presented security tips such as  using hard to guess passwords, only giving required information, checking the contact information of the website, verifying “super deals,” and using secure payment methods only. It also reminded consumers to study the terms and conditions of the particular online transaction they are entering and stressed the importance of logging out after the completion of every transaction.   

These are simple practices that consumers may sometimes take for granted.  I cannot overemphasize the importance of these reminders which will ensure the safety and welfare of online shoppers. 

Read these too before hitting the pay button:

When considering a product for possible purchase online,   it is essential to always read the description and the fine print, and to be wary of bogus reviews on the items. In addition, a wise online consumer will check the validity of an offer and the security of the online site. It is possible that the offer may only be good for a very limited or very specific day or time, after which prices revert to their original levels, or the site offering the product may not be what it claims to be.  It will also greatly help to check the duration, delivery or shipping time, and location of online sellers. A wise online shopper will do due diligence by comparing prices.  One tip that I also learned was to keep clicking on the items that you want to see more of. You can also take advantage of pre-ordering deals, but you must remember to always use a safer payment method. Some wiser online shoppers also choose to keep their items in their carts for a few days.

Finally, the most important piece of advice: if it is too good to be true, it most probably is. Here, the wise shopper must remind himself that unless it’s included in flash sales, if the price is improbably low, he must be more critical because while there is the chance he might really be getting a good deal, the greater chance is he might end up buying a reproduction, or a damaged item—or worse, be a victim of a bait scam.

I have also advocated for more benefits for senior citizens and PWDs engaging in online transactions. . Laban Konsyumer wrote the Department of Social Welfare and Development this October to inquire on the status of any implementing guidelines in the availing of the discounts of senior citizens and persons with disability in online transactions.

In that letter, I wrote that “xxx most  senior citizens and PWDs  above 65 years old purchase food items, medicines and supplements  and other goods online ( including  “pabili” services) and are not able to claim the discounts granted by law since merchants do not know what and how to grant the discounts.

In our monitoring, however, pick up and home delivery thru telephone are extended the discounts upon placement of the order and submission of the appropriate identification number of the consumers. I highlighted that implementation of discounts for senior citizens is especially timely with the challenges brought on by the pandemic and the consequent dwindling resources both in the economy and for individual consumers.

Recalling a similar situation, I cited that the airline regulator and the   industry were able to set up the guidelines on airline domestic transportation discounts done thru online booking in 2017.  So we know we can develop the guidelines on online transactions by senior citizens and PWDs for the uniform implementation of the discounts. Right now, it is important that the spirit of these initiatives is consistent and is carried out for all parties, in order to ease their burden during this tough year, where senior citizens may often feel restricted, depleted, and even powerless.  

I was heartened to learn the guidelines may be released before the end of the year. 

     In my personal capacity and on behalf of all of us in Laban Konsyumer Inc., we greet all consumers a Blessed and Merry Christmas!

          Atty. Vic Dimagiba is President of Laban Konsyumer Inc.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2020/12/19/be-a-wise-online-shopper/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=be-a-wise-online-shopper)