Senior citizen files suit after being denied discounts on ‘promo’ with no DTI approval
MANILA, Philippines — Commercial establishments cannot tell senior citizens and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) that they are not entitled to twenty percent discounts, just because the products and services of the outlets are on promotions or on ‘promos.’
Attempts to deny seniors and PWDs their rights are illegal when the promos lack the approval of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).
Consumer Act of the Philippines (Article 116 of Republic Act 7394) clearly states before launching the sales promotion campaign, any person or company must first secure permission from DTI.
With this as basis, senior citizen Melinda Rada filed a complaint before Pasig Prosecutors Office.
Her charge read, “The purpose of RA 7394 in regulating the sales promotion of any company is to prevent consumers from being deceived by any establishment claiming that its prices or rates are already on ‘promo.'”
Without DTI’s regulation, “it will be very easy for any establishment to claim that its prices or rates are on promo and no discounts will be given to senior citizens anymore,” said Rada.
She was assisted by her counsel, Attorney Romulo Macalintal, when she went to sue the hotel.
Rada narrated she checked into the hotel with her senior citizen sister on November 25, 2022.
Upon check out on November 27, 2022, she asked for her 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) exemption and 20 percent discount as a senior citizen.
These rights are guaranteed under Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
However, the hotel refused to grant her the discounts, claiming the rate was allegedly on “promo.”
However, no evidence was presented by the hotel when asked for proof that the promo has clearance from DTI.
Rada, through her counsel, wrote a letter to the hotel’s management.
The hotel, in turn, responded by offering to give the 20 percent discount, with an overnight stay and breakfast for two.
Rada declined the offer.
She, instead, set the following conditions:
1. All of the hotel’s branches shall post notices in all their reception/desk areas, stating that senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) are entitled to 12 percent VAT exemption and 20 percent senior/PWD discounts, if promo rates are not permitted by DTI;
2. The hotel should advise Philippine Hotel Owners Association of these law-mandated benefits and what is stated under the law;
3. The hotel must donate the amount of P250,000 to any organization of senior citizens to partly assuage the damages caused by the hotel to other senior citizens “whom the hotel wittingly or unwittingly denied their discounts on a promo not approved by the DTI.”
The hotel responded by saying it had supposedly conducted an employee training.
It also claimed it had informed Philippine Hotel Owners Association about the benefits.
However, it was silent on Rada’s request that the hotel’s branches post notices on their reception desks that senior citizens and PWDs are entitled to 12 percent VAT exemption and 20 percent senior/PWD discounts, if a promo lacks the approval of DTI.
The hotel also rejected the proposal for the hotel to make a donation to any senior citizens’ organization.
In its letter, the hotel said: “The denial of the benefit to your client was not intentional or malicious, but done by our misunderstanding of the rate, which, however, we immediately corrected.”
The case was taken to Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau (FTEB) of DTI for mediation.
The mediation failed.
Thus, a certificate to file action was issued, prompting Rada to take the case to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Under the law, if the violator is a corporation, the officials charged with management shall be the ones liable.
Violating the Senior Citizens Law imposes a penalty of not more than P100,000 and imprisonment of not less than two years, but not more than six years.