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Giving insufficient change is a criminal offense

Republic Act No. 10909 prohibits business establishments from giving insufficient, or no change to customers. The law is called the “No Shortchanging Act.” In September 2016, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) issued the implementing rules for that law (DTI Department Administrative Order No. 16-03, series of 2016).


It requires a business or government establishment to give exact change. The customer should not even have to ask for sukli. The business has to give it automatically. It can give more if it has insufficient change. The law makes it illegal to ask customers to get additional items or services if the establishment does not have sufficient change or barya



Who are covered?


All businesses are covered, from taxi drivers, tricycle drivers, sari-sari stores, malls, banks, even government offices.



 What to do when it happens to you?


Shortchanging a customer, even if only a small amount,  can be reported immediately.

Under DTI D.A.O. No. 16-03, The customer can do either of two things. Or it can do both. 

  1. The customer can report to the business owner or consumer welfare desk for immediate action.

  2. The customer can report the violation to the DTI in a letter, and attach copies of evidence. 


Filing a complaint with the DTI


Within 10 days from the time of the violation, the customer should send a letter to the DTI stating what store, establishment, taxi, or business committed the violation. The complaint should contain the address so that notices can be sent there. The complaint should also describe the acts and events that took place, the date and time it happened, and how was the insufficient change.


The letter should contain documentary evidence of the facts, like a copy of the receipt, and anything that can establish the facts. If all you have is your story, then write it in an affidavit and submit it with your letter.

 

The DTI will conduct an investigation involving the parties. After that, it will issue a decision on its findings. If the DTI finds that the company gave insufficient change, it will declare a violation of the law and mete out penalties.



What about taxis, buses, and TNVs?


For vehicles, the process is similar.


Taxis and buses should have the name of their operator. Make sure you get the name of  the operator and the plate number. In taxis, you can find these printed on the door. You can even find an address there and phone numbers. 


You can report the incident to those phone numbers and demand your change  sent to  you. You have to report the vehicle, its plate number, and the time the incident happened. Get your copy of the receipt or the bus ticket, and remember how much you gave and how much change was missing.


If the company refuses, then report it to the DTI using the same process as above. As evidence that you actually used the transport service, take a picture of yourself inside. 

If using a taxi, take a picture of the taxi details. Don’t make alterations in the photo. In case the photo will be needed during a proceeding, you can show it, and it will have date and time stamps to prove your case.


If riding a TNV like Grab, your app will show the details and will be sufficient proof of your travel. You’ll still need to note how much you gave the driver and how much change was not returned to you.



 What do you get from this?


There are two things you get from this. First of all, you get your change back. Second, the company pays a fine to you.


But the more important thing is that these companies are taught a lesson and will ready their personnel to avoid acts like these.  Consumer groups may take a stand on this, and file the cases that will teach these companies the proper lessons. Do it to just a few, and entire industries will follow.



Fines


The penalties for failure to give change  is quite steep and can hurt the companies and teach them very important lessons.


  • First Offense: Php500.00 or 3% of the gross sales of the company for that entire day, whichever is higher.

  • Second Offense: Php5,000.00 or 5% of the gross sales of the company for that entire day, whichever is higher.

  • Third offense: Php15,000.00 or 7% of the gross sales of the company for the entire day, whichever is higher. Also, the business license of the company shall be suspended for 3 months by the government agency that regulates the business.

  • Fourth offense: Php25,000.00 or 10% of the gross sales of the company for the entire day, whichever is higher. In this case, the business license of the company will be revoked.

How big can gross sales get?


If it happens in a big mall like SM Department Store or Puregold supermarket, you get a percentage of the sales from that branch for the entire day. How much could 5% of the entire sales of of a big department store or supermarket for that day?


If committed by a bus or taxi cab, then you get a percentage of the gross sales of the ENTIRE fleet of buses or taxis of that company for the entire day. If the  company has 20 vehicles, how much would 5% of sales be for one day? Quite a lot too.


It is for this reason that companies should educate their cashiers and clerks about this law or it may land them in trouble later on.


Originally published in December 17, 2018

by PM Dizon


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About the author:


ATTY. PETER MICHAEL DIZON graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Law as a working student. He entered the Commission on Information and Communication Technology (CICT) and later served as a consultant for intellectual property law. He later joined one of the oldest and most experienced law offices in the Philippines, where he practiced litigation, immigration, and commercial law. He has a broad base of experience not only in the legal profession but also in the public and the private sector, particularly in the tech industry.