To ensure consumers’ access to various modes of payment on their purchase of products and services, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued the Department Administrative Order No. 21-03 or the “Guidelines for Payments Options on the Purchase of Consumer Products and Services” which will take effect on 23 April 2021.Pursuant to Republic Act No. 7394 or the Consumer Act of the Philippines, the DTI is mandated to safeguard the consumers against Deceptive, Unfair and Unconscionable Sales Acts and Practices and false and misleading advertisements, among others.
The DAO mandates all persons and companies, whether registered or unregistered, engaged in the sale or offer for sale of consumer products and services, to provide consumers the option to pay in cash, in installment, or a combination of the two, whenever they make a purchase. An “installment only” mode of payment is strictly prohibited. Further, the guidelines specify that there should be no additional charge on the selling price if the mode of payment is through debit/credit/prepaid cards, QR codes, electronic fund transfers, or other digital means available, as preferred by the buyer.
For consumers who choose to pay on installment, the guidelines state that “no interest shall be due unless expressly stipulated in writing in accordance with Article 1956 of the Civil Code” and that the seller shall not impose an interest rate more than the market-oriented interest rate. The seller also must not collect an advance interest of more than a year. Additionally for bigger items, the seller is required to release documents that will show ownership of the buyer and must comply with the requirements in case of repossession of products purchased on installment.
“The DTI highlights the consumers’ right to choose not only on products and services that she/he needs but also the mode of payment for these goods or services. The DTI reminds all sellers to comply with DAO No. 21-03 to avoid being penalized”, says DTI Consumer Protection Group Undersecretary Atty. Ruth B. Castelo.
Under the Consumer Act, violation of Article 52 has the concomitant penalty of imprisonment for a period of five (5) months to (1) year or a fine ranging from Php 500.00 – Php 10,000.00 or both, upon the discretion of the court.
For more consumer-related information, visit the DTI website. For consumer-related concerns and queries, please send an email to ConsumerCare@dti.gov.ph or call One-DTI (1-384) Hotline.