When I shopped in a tiangge selling ready-to-wear items in Pasay City (Metro Manila), I found a shirt that was on sale and priced at P399.99. I immediately talked to the seller that I will buy the shirt and gave him the amount of P400.00. The seller wrapped the item and gave it to me. I waited for the change but the seller was just talking to other customers and forgot my change so I called his attention and asked for my change. The seller, however, answered that he did not have a 10 centavo coin and sai,: “Sentimo lang naman yan, eh [It’s just small change]!” This prompted me to insist on my demand for him to give me my change that resulted in a heated argument. Can I file any complaint against the seller?
The seller violated the provision of Republic Act 10909 (RA 10909), or the No Shortchanging Act of 2016, when he failed or refused to give your ten (10)-centavo change. Section 4 of this law states, “It shall be the duty of the business establishment to give the exact change to the consumer without waiting for the consumer to ask for the same. Xxx It shall be unlawful for any business establishment to shortchange a consumer, even if such change is only a small amount. Nothing in this Act shall be construed as a restriction for business establishments to give an amount greater than the sufficient change. xxx”.
In your case, it does not matter if your change is just ten (10) centavos. What is being punished by RA 10909 is shortchanging. Shortchanging is the act of giving insufficient or no change to a consumer who purchased a product or service. (Section 3 (i), RA 10909).
The penalties for violation of RA 10909 are provided under its Section 6, which states, “Any violation of this Act as determined by the DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] under Section 5 hereof shall be punished as follows: for the first offense, a violator shall be fined five hundred pesos (P500.00) or three percent (3 percent) of the gross sales of the business establishment on the day of the violation, whichever is higher; for the second offense, a violator shall be fined five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) or five percent (5 percent) of the gross sales of the business establishment on the day of the violation, whichever is higher; for the third offense, a violator shall be fined fifteen thousand pesos (PI5,000.00) or seven percent (7 percent) of the gross sales of the business establishment on the day of the violation, whichever is higher, and the license to operate of the business establishment shall be suspended for three (3) months; and for the fourth offense, a violator shall be fined twenty-five thousand pesos (P25,000.00) or ten percent (10 percent) of the gross sales of the business establishment on the day of the violation, whichever is higher, and the license to operate of the business establishment shall be revoked. In addition to the amount of the fine mentioned above, the total amount of change that the establishment failed or refused to give, as determined from the audit of the DTI, shall be paid by the said establishment to the complainant.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org