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Consumer Rights Day reminder: The caveat of online shoppingTuesday, March 13, 2018 > 10:29:13
AS the e-commerce industry continues to gain popularity in the country, two non-governmental groups warned the buying public of possible risks of purchasing items from the Internet.
In a joint statement ahead of World Consumer Rights Day on Thursday, Laban Konsyumer Inc. and EcoWaste Coalition said they recognize the growing sector of online shopping in the country. However, they also said stiffer regulations on e-commerce sites must be enforced to ensure their services are maintained at high standards.
“The fast growth of digital technologies has allowed consumers to shop online anywhere and anytime. With the ever-present mobile phones and other e-devices, consumers now have easy access to an extensive range of goods or services with just the touch of a button,” said Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba, president of Laban Konsyumer.
Dimagiba, a former trade undersecretary, said adulterated and dangerous products are in abundance in the Internet, and the government must address this as part of its mandate to protect consumers. “But not all things being sold online are created equal,” he said.
“Just like in offline shopping, consumers need to be on their guard against adulterated, counterfeit, mislabeled and poor-quality products that may pose health and safety risks. The risks are real, so regulatory agencies and e-commerce sites need to take greater measures to protect consumers from online cheats and unfair business practices,” Dimagiba added.
Dimagiba’s sentiment was shared by Anthony Dizon, chemical-safety campaigner of EcoWaste Coalition. For Dizon, a stronger online protection is needed to be enforced, as consumers might fall prey to false advertising, labeling claims and bogus and hazardous goods.
“The online sale of goods, such as cosmetic and wellness products with banned, controlled or undeclared ingredients, is a serious matter as the consumption of such products may result to acute or chronic poisoning that can have adverse health effects, especially to women and children,” Dizon said.
He claimed some cosmetic products sold online have mercury, hydroquinone or tretinoin. A heavy metal dangerous to health, mercury is extremely hazardous even in small amounts, especially to pregnant and nursing mothers.
On the other hand, hydroquinone and tretinoin are classified as drugs in the country due to their harmful effects to the body. Contact with the two drugs can result to sensitivity to light, skin redness and permanent skin discoloration.
To be clear, Laban Konsyumer and EcoWaste Coalition said they are not against the rising popularity of online stores. They said they just want a fairer and safer platform for consumers in the digital marketplace.
The annual World Consumer Rights Day is organized by Consumers International to advance the interests of the buying public. This year’s theme is “Making Digital Marketplaces Fairer.”