By Futch A. Inso, Victor Anthony V. Silva |December 15,2017 - 11:58 PM

LANTERN PARADE. UP Cebu students show a placard stating no to fake news after the university’s annual lantern parade. Friday’s event where lanterns were paraded at the school also highlighted a protester-style delegation of College of Communication, Art, and Design students, who carried placards pushing the causes they supported.

DTI-7 exec says 7 Metro Cebu establishments penalized for not giving exact change to customers

When Kenneth Gallardo was still a university student, he would frequent a nearby eatery for lunch almost every day.

He recalled that there were a few times when the establishment’s cashier would shortchange him, saying they did not have enough coins.

There were instances when, instead of coins, he was given candies and although he knew it was not proper, he just brushed it off so he didn’t have to stay at the eatery long.

“I know it was wrong. If they gave us candies for change, we might as well pay them with candies, too. But I take it anyway so I can leave,” he told Cebu Daily News in an interview.

Gallardo, who is now a 26-year-old art teacher, fortunately hasn’t experienced these shortchanging incidents lately.

Had these happened earlier this year, the establishment would have been held liable for violating Republic Act No. 10909 or the No Shortchanging Act of 2016.

Gallardo said he has heard about the law before, but did not really know how it was being implemented.

He said that if an establishment shortchanged him again in the future, especially if it’s as much as P5, he would not hesitate to complain to the enforcement agencies concerned.

At least seven business establishments in Metro Cebu were recently penalized by the Department of Trade and Industry in Central Visayas (DTI-7) for defying the law.

Dinah Gladys Oro, senior trade and industry development specialist of DTI-7, said the law which took effect in February this year aims to penalize business establishments that give insufficient or no change to customers.

Under the law, business establishments are prohibited from the following practices: shortchanging a consumer, even if such change is only of a small amount; changing in any form other than the present currency; and asking consumers for permission to be exempted from the provisions of RA 10909 or its implementing rules and regulations for any reason, including non-availability of small bills or coins.

“The practice of some establishments which gives candy as change of your purchase is prohibited. Consumers should receive exact amount of change upon purchase, even if that’s only a small amount.” Oro said.

Oro also warned establishments of the law’s stringent provision of penalties which includes a fine of P500 or three percent of the total gross sales of the business on the day of the violation, whichever is higher in the first offense; P5,000 or five percent of the gross sales of the business establishment in the second offense; P15,000 or seven percent of the gross sales of the establishment and suspension of license to operate within three months upon recommendation of DTI for the third offense; and P25,000 or 10 percent of the gross sales of the business and revocation of license to operate for the fourth offense.

“There was even an establishment that we’ve penalized because of shortchanging a customer of 50 centavos,” she added.

Oro explained that RA 10909 is not only limited to business establishments, but also covers Public Utility Vehicles (PUVs) and even ambulant vendors.

She added that since June this year, DTI-7 has already conducted a series of seminars attended by different business establishments in the region to make them aware of the new law.

Oro encouraged the public to file a complaint before the DTI against business establishments that practice shortchanging.

“If we ever receive a complaint, the office will conduct an investigation and test-buy against the erring establishment,” she said.

Consumers, however, are encouraged to file their complaints within 10 working days after the violation was committed.

According to a provision in RA 10909, failure to submit the letter complaint and the attached documentary evidence such as proof of transaction or sales invoice, within the prescribed period would be grounds for dismissal of the complaint.

She clarified, however, that the complainant will not be granted monetary award but will only be entitled to a refund for the shortchanging.

Oro added that the DTI-7 has already created and deployed a team that will enforce the law.

Robert Go, president of the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) in Cebu, said he is in favor of the law as it protects the consumers.

“There is really nothing wrong with the law. The problem emanates from the lack of circulation of coins and small change in the system,” he said in a text message.

Go, however, emphasized that it all boils down to how prepared an establishment is, especially with the onset of the holiday shopping rush.

“It’s all about forward planning, and ample coins should be prepared as part of doing business,” he said.

Fritz Palileo, president of the Cebu Bankers Club (CBC), meanwhile, admitted that there is indeed a shortage of coins in circulation.

He said banks are dependent on the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for their supply of coins, each having a specific allocation from the central bank.

“The problem is that there is no recirculation of the coins. Once the banks release the coins to clients, they are not deposited back to the banks,” Palileo said.

The CBC president said the BSP–Cebu Regional Office has launched a coin retrieval campaign and is requesting the cooperation of local banks to help in sourcing the coins, adding that they can provide coin machine counters to clients who have substantial coins for deposit.

The BSP had earlier said inefficient recirculation stems from the public’s habit to hoard coins.

Among the examples are vending enterprises like “automatic tubig machines” and “piso-piso internet.”

The BSP had advised owners of these enterprises to regularly collect coins to prevent accumulation.

According to BSP statistics, there are 27.8 billion pieces of coins valued at P31.2 billion in circulation as of August 31, 2017.

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