Who among you buy anything and everything online, like me? Even pre-COVID-19, I was already an online shopper. I find online shopping so easy, convenient and hassle-free. Lucky me, from all the online purchases I have made, I have never encountered a major problem or mishap. I enjoy online window-shopping, too. Everything can be found online most especially during this time when several business have not re-opened yet. When you see something you fancy online, of course you would like to know how much it costs. Most of the time, the price is nowhere to be found. When this happens, you know the drill. “PM is the key!”
I do not wish to destroy your marketing strategy, but, if you still hide the price of your product and deliberately type in “PM is the key!” when informing your buyers of the price of your products, you may be held liable for that. Remember, a price tag must be displayed in all products sold to the public, in stores or online, no exceptions.
The legal basis of the price tag requirement is Republic Act No. 7394 otherwise known as the “Consumer Act of the Philippines.” Mind you, this is not a new law. In fact, it was approved since 1992. It is a lengthy law made up of 173 articles in total.
I will not bore you with the details of the full contents of the law. Let us focus on what is relevant these days. The surge of online selling in the country is unbelievable. It continues to rise up to this day. Since we Filipinos are naturally resilient and “maabilidad,” online selling is one of the best go-to options for many. All you need is a laptop/tablet/desktop, an internet connection, a marketing strategy and a “hot” product to sell, and you’re all set!
Article 81 of RA 7394 provides:
Price Tag Requirement. — It shall be unlawful to offer any consumer product for retail sale to the public without an appropriate price tag, label or marking publicly displayed to indicate the price of each article and said products shall not be sold at a price higher than that stated therein and without discrimination to all buyers: Provided, That lumber sold, displayed or offered for sale to the public shall be tagged or labeled by indicating thereon the price and the corresponding official name of the wood: Provided, further, That if consumer products for sale are too small or the nature of which makes it impractical to place a price tag thereon price list placed at the nearest point where the products are displayed indicating the retail price of the same may suffice.
If you read Article 81, one might think that this only applies to products sold in physical stores, given the details on the price tag display requirements. At the time it was approved in 1992, online selling was not yet popular. However, RA 7394 does not distinguish between products sold in physical stores or online. This means, online sellers must also display the price of the products online for all the consumer public to see.
Be warned of the penalty in case of violation of this legal requirement.
Any person who violates the provisions of Article 81 to 83 for the first time shall be subject to:
(1) a fine of not less than Two hundred pesos (P200.00) but not more than Five thousand pesos (P5,000.00); OR
(2) by imprisonment of not less than one (1) month but not more than six (6) months; or
(3) both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.
A second conviction under this paragraph shall also carry with it the penalty of revocation of business permit and license.
There is absolutely nothing wrong in trying to make a living during these challenging times by engaging in online selling. I have many friends and colleagues who have online businesses here and there. But remember that as an online seller, you have a huge responsibility to your consumers. Instead of overpricing and profiteering (which are all unlawful acts under the law), let us support each other’s businesses, patronize local sellers and remain responsible Filipinos by complying with the laws.
Hope you find this post useful. This is Attorney Mommy, at your service.