When I was walking in a certain mall in Taguig City (Metro Manila), I chanced upon two individuals who introduced themselves as sales clerks from a particular company. They told me that I won some of their products. These agents brought me to their booth where they kept on congratulating me and also showing the products that I had won. They wrapped these products so that I could bring them home, but when I was about to take these prizes, one of the agents told me that I must first buy one of their products, which was too expensive. I found it impractical, so I told the agent that I was no longer interested in the prizes. Is this type of marketing strategy legal?
What you have narrated is a clear case of deceptive sales act or practice. You can file your complaint with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This is in violation of Article 50 of Republic Act (RA) 7394, or the Consumer Act of the Philippines. The provision states, “A deceptive act or practice by a seller or supplier in connection with a consumer transaction violates this Act whether it occurs before, during or after the transaction. An act or practice shall be deemed deceptive whenever the producer, manufacturer, supplier or seller, through concealment, false representation of fraudulent manipulation, induces a consumer to enter into a sales or lease transaction of any consumer product or service. Without limiting the scope of the above paragraph, the act or practice of a seller or supplier is deceptive when it represents that:
a) a consumer product or service has the sponsorship, approval, performance, characteristics, ingredients, accessories, uses or benefits it does not have;
b) a consumer product or service is of a particular standard, quality, grade, style or model when in fact it is not;
c) a consumer product is new, original or unused, when in fact, it is in a deteriorated, altered, reconditioned, reclaimed or second-hand state;
d) a consumer product or service is available to the consumer for a reason that is different from the fact;
e) a consumer product or service has been supplied in accordance with the previous representation when in fact it is not;
f) a consumer product or service can be supplied in a quantity greater than the supplier intends;
g) a service, or repair of a consumer product is needed when in fact it is not;
h) a specific price advantage of a consumer product exists when in fact it is not;
i) the sales act or practice involves or does not involve a warranty, a disclaimer of warranties, particular warranty terms or other rights, remedies or obligations if the indication is false; and
j) the seller or supplier has a sponsorship, approval, or affiliation he does not have.”
Another provision of the law that was also violated was Article 52, which provides that “an unfair or unconscionable sales act or practice by a seller or supplier in connection with a consumer transaction violates this chapter whether it occurs before, during or after the consumer transaction. An act or practice shall be deemed unfair or unconscionable whenever the producer, manufacturer, distributor, supplier or seller, by taking advantage of the consumer’s physical or mental infirmity, ignorance, illiteracy, lack of time or the general conditions of the environment or surroundings, induces the consumer to enter into a sales or lease transaction grossly inimical to the interests of the consumer or gross one-sided in favor of the producer, manufacturer, distributor, supplier or seller.”
Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.
We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.
Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to email@example.com