MANILA – "Barya lang sa po umaga" takes on a different meaning with the passing of a law geared towards protecting consumers from losing money due to lack of loose change.
Republic Act 10909, or the No Shortchanging Law, aims to protect consumers who lose money to sellers or service providers who do not give exact change.
According to the law, businesses or service providers should give exact change, and cannot refuse to give change to those who are buying their products, or using their services, as it is their “duty…to give exact exchange to the consumer without waiting for the consumer to ask for the same.”
Businesses ranging from vendors to corporations and government-owned entities are covered by the law, as well as people who sell their services such as drivers of public utility vehicles.
Consumers can file a complaint not later than 10 working days after an establishment, seller, or service provider refuses to give them change or gives insufficient change. Anyone found to have violated the law will be fined P500 for the first offense. Repeat offenders will be fined P15,000 and their license to operate will be suspended for three months. A third offense will incur a fine of P25,000 and the revocation of their license to operate.
Businesses have placed the blame in the past on the lack of small change or centavo coins to avoid giving their customers exact change, for example giving 25 centavos instead of 30 centavos due to an alleged lack of five-centavo coins.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, however, said that this is due to inefficient recirculation and not a shortage, and that businesses can approach banks to ask for a supply of coins.
The No Shortchanging Act became law because it was left unsigned 30 days after being sent by Congress to the Office of the President.