PM is not the key: DTI tells online sellers to post prices

Ralf Rivas
PM is not the key: DTI tells online sellers to post prices
Online vendors must display prices instead of telling their customers to send private messages first, says the Department of Trade and Industry

MANILA, Philippines – For those who have bought goods online, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, the phrase “PM is key” or the prompt to send the vendor a private message is all too familiar. It is, however, illegal.

Republic Act (RA) No. 7394 or the Consumer Act mandates all sellers to display prices of products. Goods may also not be sold at a price higher than what is stated.

In a message to Rappler, Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo said RA No. 7581 is also explicit on including price tags for all products of both brick-and-mortar and online stores.

“Without the tag would constitute the offense of profiteering, an illegal act of price manipulation,” Castelo said.

She also noted that while the law was crafted before the rise of online shopping, it does not distinguish between online and physical stores.

Castelo said violators would be fined from P5,000 to P2 million and may face maximum imprisonment of 15 years.

Consumers may complain to the Department of Trade and Industry via its hotline 1384.

E-commerce is seen as more crucial now, as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said it will help revive the economy from the coronavirus. (READ: Fast facts on online shopping in PH)

“Online shopping and marketing platforms will play a bigger role in the new normal as businesses and consumers increase the use of electronic transactions, including cashless payment system and other financial technology platforms,” said Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua.

NEDA, however, admitted that laws like RA No. 8972 or the Electronic Commerce Act need to be more comprehensive. Rights of consumers must be specified and penalties imposed on service providers must likewise be strengthened. – Rappler.com

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.