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DTI summons 2 big e-commerce platforms for 'fraudulent sales practices'

By JUSTINE PUNZALAN Published Jun 09, 2023 5:11 pm Updated Jun 10, 2023 11:42 am

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has called out two big e-commerce platforms operating in the country for their fraudulent sales practices, including retailing fake or pirated items among its customers.

DTI secretary Alfredo Pascual on June 9 released a statement about the agency's recent operation that involved sending letters to the e-commerce platforms, requiring them to provide DTI with an official explanation for their "recent cases of deceptive, unfair, fraudulent, and unconscionable online sales practices."

The move comes after the agency received several customer complaints about online sellers retailing fake, defective, or undelivered parcels on the e-commerce apps.

"We received a report regarding scammers and sellers of defective, fake, and pirated products in e-commerce platforms. I have already issued a letter addressed to two big e-commerce platforms for them to remove unregistered and unlicensed online merchants. Following numerous notifications, they were given 72 hours to explain," Pascual is quoted as saying in the statement.

The letters were sent to the concerned parties on June 5 in reference to Article 50 of the Republic Act (RA) 7394, which states that a deceptive act by a seller or supplier occurs when "the producer, manufacturer, supplier, or seller, through concealment false representation or fraudulent manipulation, induces a consumer to enter into a sales or lease transaction of any consumer product or service."

According to the legislation, a product or service is being represented fraudulently when it does not have the sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, ingredients, accessories, uses, or benefits that it claims to have.

It also applies when a seller or supplier markets its product as new, original, or unused when in actuality, it is in its altered, reconditioned, reclaimed, or second-hand state. A product or service is likewise deemed deceptive if its size or quantity is being advertised as larger than it is.

Violators will be subject to a fine ranging from P500 to 10,000 or imprisonment between five months to one year, depending on the discretion of the court, as stated in the RA.

In addition to RA 7394, DTI said it summoned the two e-commerce platforms based on the rules defined in RA 8293 and Joint Administrative Order No. 22-01, Series of 2022, or the Guidelines for Online Business Reiterating the Laws and Regulations Applicable to Online Businesses and Consumers.

"The DTI is currently undertaking appropriate measures to intensify our campaign against these fraudulent sales practices," Pascal continued. "I assure Filipino consumers that we are here to promote and protect their welfare and make sure that these sellers will be made accountable. As we promote the use of e-commerce platforms, we want to make sure that these spaces will be safe for consumers."

Customers defrauded by online sellers with their fake or deceptive products can file a complaint through the DTI customer care hotline at 1-384 or via email at [email protected]. You may also course your complaint through the DTI Fair-Trade Enforcement Bureau at [email protected] and CC [email protected] on your message.