Have you ever experienced shopping on a group buying site or any local website but the item never arrived? The recent startup blitz of group buying websites in the Philippines also accompanied with it a number of fraudulent websites that take advantage of innocent buyers. That nasty feeling of doubt, disbelief, and the realization of having made the wrong decision left a lot of people disillusioned and dissatisfied.
I have also heard a lot of reports from friends who were not able to claim the products and services they bought from group buying websites. If this does happen to you, what are you supposed to do? Who you gonna call? Well, before we get to that part, it is important to know, that you — the buyer, also have responsibilities to perform.
As a buyer, you need to be responsible for the following:
- Payment. Did you actually pay for the item? If the offer/deal was cancelled and you haven’t paid for anything yet, then there is no reason to report it to the authorities.
- Keep the receipt. If you paid via bank deposit then you should keep the deposit slip, or any other proof of payment/purchase to back up your claim.
- Offer too good to be true? If the offer is too good to be true on the group buying site, then you should try calling the company that is offering the item. E.g. If group buying site Groupbuy.com is offering Canon cameras at 90% off via CameraSeller company, you should call the CameraSeller company to double check whether the offer is true. It pays to be prudent or sigurista!
- Call customer service. Have you tried calling the customer support to file your complaint? It is your responsibility to exhaust all means of communication with the seller.
- Read the fine print. Make sure you have read all the conditions when purchasing the item to avoid misunderstandings.
Having performed your end of the bargain and the item is still nowhere to be found or the service you paid for is still being denied? Then it is time to notify the authorities. Here’s how:
- Department of Trade and Industry
- This department serves as the primary coordinating, promoting, facilitating and regulating arm of the Philippine government for the country’s trade, industry and investment activities.
- Visit their site and file a complaint form.
- Call your local DTI office. http://www.dti.gov.ph/dti/index.php?p=140
- Utilize the Power of the Philippine Media
- Call your local radio stations and report the complaint. Be sure to have all the facts before calling to be taken seriously. Here’s a list of Philippine radio stations. I believe DZMM is popular http://www.dzmm.com.ph/
- Another popular broadcast is “Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo“. You may contact them via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (02) 576-5854, (02) 576-5855. You may also text 0921-238-6423, 0927-377-0881, 0929-764-9046, 0919-432-4745. I’m not sure if he’s the type to go after consumer-related complaints but if he does, it would be like watching a rabid mad dog chase after bad guys on TV.
- Maximize Social Media and spread the word
- Use Facebook, Twitter, Multiply or etc. Whatever you can get your hands on to spread the news. Heck, you may even put up your own blog and rant about the bastards. Or look for blog posts about group buying and comment on the thread.
I hope you may never encounter a scam when buying online. But if it does happen to you, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts and plan your attack strategy. May justice be on your side and smite those scammers.