DTI: Online transactions complaints soar amid ECQ

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Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) reported that customer complaints involving online transactions dramatically increased during the enhanced community quarantine periods (ECQ).

Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said in a virtual briefing with reporters on Thursday, said DTI’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) recorded a spike in online complaints from January to May 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. 

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“From January to May, ang laki ng tinaas ng consumer complaints that were received FTEB,” Castelo said.

According to the Data shared by Castelo, a total of 9,044  online complaints were filed for the first five months of 2020 compared to 2,457 last year.

DTI data also showed that from April to May — the peak of the ECQ lockdown — total online complaints reached 8,059 from only 985 from January to March.

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Most of the complaints are price-act related (6,992) followed by defective products (668), and poor customer service (241).

Meanwhile, complaints against Lazada and Shopee lowered by 40.99%. However, complaints involving transactions done on Facebook and other online platforms increased to 62.16%.

The Trade officials said the DTI is planning to create a registry of all online sellers or businesses for consumer protection purposes.

DTI added it would coordinate with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to get the list of online businesses that would register with the taxman. 

BIR announced yesterday it would require “online sellers” or those facilitating business transactions through electronic or digital means to register to ensure tax compliance. 

Also read: How to Register Online Business under BIR

“All persons doing business and earning income in any manner or form, specifically those who are into digital transactions through the use of any electronic platforms and media, and other digital means, to ensure that their businesses are registered pursuant to the provisions of Section 236 of the Tax Code, as amended, and that they are tax compliant,” the BIR said on its Revenue Memorandum Circular No. 60-2020, dated June 10.

Castelo emphasized the importance of online businesses or sellers registry in addressing complaints.  

“When they bring the complaints to us [usually] hindi nila alam physical address, how to contact them other than the page, hindi alam ang full name ng [seller],” she said.

“When we get the list [from the BIR], mate-trace natin kung saan sila hahanapin in case may concerns from the consumer,” she added.

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