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Expanded law on false ads like ‘unli’ Internet, other products sought

The expansion of guidelines of product advertisements that will penalize companies that feed misleading or false information is one of the proposed amendments to the “Consumer Act of the Philippines” in a bill submitted before the House of Representatives.

Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian filed House Bill No. 5720 to amend Republic Act No. 7394 or the current “Consumers Act of the Philippines” by inserting additional rules in making special claims in product advertisements, like ‘unlimited’ labels on some data plans of Internet service providers or ISPs.


“At the expense of consumers’ interest, some advertisers exaggerate the benefits of their product to make it more marketable. Such practice must be stopped. Companies should be more truthful and responsible in advertising their products to the public,” Gatchalian said.



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ISP companies have recently come under fire for continuously advertising their ‘unlimited’ plans yet imposing a ‘fair usage policy’ that arbitrarily limits consumers that subscribe their supposed ‘unlimited’ Internet offers.


In a report, the Department of Justice or DoJ said the ‘fair use policy’ imposed by ISPs on subscribers “is inconsistent” with provisions of the Consumer Act, which penalizes deceptive packaging and misleading trade practices and advertisements.


Gatchalian, a member of House Committee on Trade and Industry, said companies should stop feeding deceptive or misleading claims on their products to make it more marketable at the expense of consumers.


Under HB 5720, properties of a product in advertisements must be technically substantiated and should not imply that a certain benefit unless it is verifiable.


Advertisements that have results of a research, survey, or test should not be presented inaccurately or in a misleading manner. Any claims made by this kind of advertisement should not claim any implications beyond that clearly established by research, survey or test.



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Also, companies that use “number 1” or leadership claim on their products must be defined specifically and qualified in order to be verified and substantiated. Any claim of a product as being the first, best, or number 1 in its field must show proof as to how it was ranked or how it obtained such rank.


Aside from advertisements, HB 5720 also wants to expand the guidelines and coverage on delivering proper maintenance of warranty services; supervising weighing scales in markets; and prohibiting the selling of substandard or hazardous products.


HB 5720 is currently being consolidated in the House Committee on Trade and Industry with 15 bills that seek to amend the 20-year-old “Consumer Act”. (Tim Alcantara)