COMMENTARY: Do consumers deserve some respect from large companies?

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 03 March) — I would like to explain the rhetoric question of the title.

As the vast majority of residents in the country, I have to endure everyday situations that usually do not occur or are simply unimaginable in other countries.

Normally, most of us patiently endure these situations with patience and a smile. But on Sunday, February 25, 2018, the repetition of these situations led me to try to publicly expose them as spokesperson for that silent majority that wants a real change that makes the Philippines a country comparable to others where the environment is respected and where citizens / consumers can claim their rights against the abuses of large (and small) companies that consider us simply as buyers without any rights.

The odyssey of my journey began in a large and well-known shopping center (located in Ecoland) where I went to ask if it was possible to buy a certain amount of beer bottles by discounting the empty glass containers that we brought from home. I have to say that the customer service girls looked at me as you look at an alien just descended from his UFO. After explaining that it is an absolutely normal practice in the rest of the world (and that we used to do it ordinarily in another large shopping center that was recently destroyed by a terrible fire), I made the observation that right in front of the customer service, they are selling green cloth bags with their own brand, with a text inviting to recycle. Is this a curious contradiction or maybe a very peculiar and incomplete recycling policy?

Given this scenario, I decided to make a proposal in a suggestion box of considerable size and totally empty except for a couple of small coins that were inside it. I suppose they must have it as decoration, because when asking for a form to make the suggestion, the responsible girl, looked at me again as if I were speaking a bizarre language. After insisting on my request, I got a sheet of paper and I put forward my suggestions that this company should facilitate the return of used bottles and that they should have complaint or complaint forms with the matching copy for the client (and DTI, I guess). Probably my suggestion has been promptly filed in the trash bin.

But the ventures of this humble consumer had not ended here: in the afternoon I went to another shopping center (of the same brand that the one I visited this morning), this one located in Lanang. After buying some products in a very well-known pharmacy and drugstore chain, totally full of posters announcing a raffle if you bought those products, neither the sellers nor any of the cashiers knew anything about the raffle nor were they able to give us a paper ballot despite to make them see that all those ads of the promotion could be understood like a possible trap for unsuspecting consumers. After a while, they only gave us a local phone number to make a claim.

Finally, in the supermarket of that shopping center I bought just some  four or five products and, as usually happens in this and other supermarkets here, I had to wait more than 20 minutes and queuing at two different cashiers due to changes of shifts. How is it possible that there are always many closed cashiers while the customers are waiting for a long time despite that there are in the country jobless people? Needless to imagine the huge amount of hours that all of us are wasting in our lifetime just to pay for the purchase of the necessary groceries.

I wonder when users, the government or the companies themselves will take actions to solve these situations and make the country’s economy truly modern and competitive; so that citizens / consumers will have the same rights as citizens and consumers of other countries.

Thank you very much for your attention.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Jose Ramon Rodriguez Macias is a resident of Davao City)