MANILA, Philippines - Rappler’s editor at large Marites Vitug looks into consumer protection issues. She says technology and social media can be used to start a consumer movement. Here’s her video blog.
On a recent trip from Manila to Davao, the flight was delayed for close to an hour.
We waited and waited and waited.
Not a word from the pilot to explain what was happening.
Finally, we took off. I expected the pilot to apologize. But he did not.
This shows the cavalier attitude of the pilot toward his passengers.
We don’t have a consumer movement or a watchdog group that takes companies to task for faulty products and bad service.
Why is this so?
Let me venture 3 reasons.
First, consumer welfare is a middle-class issue. In the Philippines, our middle class is wafer-thin. That’s a small base for a big movement.
Second, consumer welfare takse a backseat to the more urgent problems of poverty and corruption. It is rare for politicians to run on a platform of consumer protection.
Third, a few members of the elite control the country’s commerce. They are the major advertisers. They, too, own the media.
Consumer activism cannot thrive in this forbidding environment.
But thanks to technology, we can use social media to voice our complaints.
We can tweet our frustrations over an airline company’s poor service.
We can post these on Facebook. We can blog about them.
This may yet be the seed of a virtual consumer movement.