Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 12) — As online store sales skyrocket due to deep discounts on specific dates such as 12.12 (December 12) and 11.11 (November 11), the Commerce Department said it continues to seek a law to regulate online transactions. This is to protect shoppers from buying fraudulent products and other mishaps, an official said Thursday.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said the DTI was working on an “e-commerce roadmap” that aims to create a department that will oversee merchants and stores selling products online, but a new law is still needed for this.
“Currently, consumer law does not distinguish between a physical store and an online store, and we want a specific law that says all online transactions must be handled by that particular department,” said Castelo told CNN Philippines. On the file. “I think it will be clearer if there is a law only for online transactions.”
Castelo said the agency encounters multiple complaints from online shoppers such as wrong product shipments, fake advertisements where the product is not the same as the one on the site, and counterfeit products. She added that they find it difficult to regulate those who sell counterfeit products because these sellers are difficult to trace.
“We see them online. Those selling counterfeit goods are the ones stealing at night – now you see them now you don’t – it’s harder for us to regulate them,” she said.
“We always warn them (online stores) against selling counterfeit products. These are the products that are copies and actually violate intellectual property law, so we discourage that, but that’s why we really need a law to be able to control all this,” Castelo added.
Consumers who encounter problems with online transactions can raise their concerns with DTI, Castelo said. Sellers who hold fraudulent transactions can be fined between 5,000 and two million pesos.
During the 17th Congress, the representative of the 1st district of the city of Valenzuela, Wes Gatchalian, pushed for a bill to create an “electronic commerce office” that will facilitate national and international transactions on electronic platforms. Castelo said the DTI supports this bill.
For frequent online shoppers, the common practice to ensure the authenticity of products sold online is to read seller reviews from other buyers.
“Natuto ako na dapat talaga titingnan ‘yung mga Comments ng mga past na bumili“, shared online customer Mariz Reyes.
[Translation: I learned that we really need to look at the reviews of those who have bought from the seller in the past.]
Reyes said there were times when the products delivered to her looked different from the items she ordered. It also experienced incomplete deliveries.
Castelo urged buyers to always do background checks on sellers. She said consumers should also be wary of online stores that only offer cash on delivery and bank deposit options, as these may be part of night sellers.
“Usually…these are night sellers who do not receive credit reports or credit ratings from financial institutions, so it is best that they check the reputation and background of the seller before buying “, she said.
Castelo added that consumers can also make sure the websites they visit are secure by checking web addresses for “https” or the lock icon.