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PIA Press Release

"No return, no exchange" policy explained

By Lowell Vallecer

Zamboanga City (8 February) -- Does a consumer really have the right to return and exchange a defective or poor-quality product even after the store's seven-day period has lapsed? What does the law say about sellers' return policies?

The answer is YES. Republic Act 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, entitles consumers the right and means to redress in order to get due satisfaction from their purchases. It places the responsibility on the supplier, seller or retailer to act on demands made by consumers who have bought defective goods.

Article 100 of the Consumer Act stipulates, "The suppliers of durable and nondurable consumer products are jointly liable for imperfections in quality that render the products unfit or inadequate for consumption for which they are designed or decreased their value, and for those resulting from inconsistency with the information provided on the container, packaging, labels or publicity messages/advertisement…."

In addition, pursuant to the implementing Rules and Regulations of the Consumer Act, specifically Title III, Chapter 1 and Rule 2, Section 7 of the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI) Administrative Order 2, Series of 1993, the words "No Return, No Exchange" or words to such effect shall not be written into the contract of sale, receipt or sales transaction, in any documents as evidence of sale, or anywhere in the store or establishment.

The prohibition allows consumers to exercise their right to return defective goods or services and avail themselves of remedies. Article 100 of the Consumer Act, or the "Liability for Product and Service Imperfection," declares that if the imperfection is not corrected within 30 days, the consumer may alternatively demand any of the following options: 1) the replacement of the product by another of the same kind, mark or model but without defect/s; 2) immediate reimbursement of amount paid; or 3) a proportionate price reduction.

The practice of certain retailers of printing a seven-day return policy should not confuse consumers that they only have seven days to return a defective product.

It is important to note that in case of hidden defects, the law prescribes a maximum of two years from the date of purchase or upon discovery of hidden defect to file a complaint or act, taking into consideration the nature of product purchased.

For instance, there are brands which are trusted by many because even if they are more expensive, they offerthe kind of quality that give the customers their money's worth. On the other hand, smuggled and fake goods may be cheaper but they tend to be unreliable.

While there is no imposed time limit for consumers to return defective products, it should, however, be made within a reasonable period upon which the imperfection has been discovered. Also, the nature of the product and expressed/implied warranties covered by the law are to be considered in related situations.

To guard businesses against abuse, the law qualifies that only defective goods can be returned or exchanged, and consumer cannot return the product and demand for a refund if they only had a change of mind or the wrong color or size of a product was brought.

Thus, if an item bought from store Y turns out to be more expensive than a similar item in store X, the consumer cannot return the item to store Y and ask for a refund. While consumers have the right to choose, it is also his/her responsibility to canvass the prices before buying because once a sale is done and the product has no defect, then the consumer cannot ask for a refund.

Replacing items that are in good condition is completely "the call" of the store, and most businesses give in to request for a change in size or color because they believe that it will build good customer relations. It is in these situations where the "seven-day" return policy of stores will apply.

Thus, the Consumer Act ensures that consumers get value for money by requiring businesses to be mindful about the quality of products they place in the market. But such protection granted under the law should never be abused.

Consumers should also take responsibility and be discerning when it comes to the quality and price of goods they are buying.

For businesses, a good "after-sales service" is considered as a public profession that the company has full confidence in the quality of its merchandise. It shows that you honor the customers who are making the company prosper by looking out for ways to keep them satisfied.

In the end, a good after-sales service benefits consumers and businesses, as this minimizes hassle on both sides since a system is already in place to ensure that complaints are addressed efficiently. This creates goodwill for business-a plus factor in a highly competitive sector. (DTI9/PIA9-BST) [top]

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