Senior citizen hits back at hotel over ‘promo’

Daphne Galvez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Commercial establishments cannot deprive senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) their 20-percent discount just because their products and services are on “promos.”

This was the argument of Melinda Rada when she filed a complaint against a hotel in Pasig for refusing to give her the 12 percent value-added tax (VAT) exemption and 20 percent discount as a senior citizen for her stay at the establishment.

The hotel claimed the rate was allegedly on “promo,” but Rada said the establishment could not show any proof that the promotion has the approval of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

In her complaint-affidavit, Rada cited Article 116 of Republic Act (RA) 7394 or the Consumer Act, which provides that any person or company conducting sales promotion campaign must first secure permission from the DTI.

“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,’” the complaint read.

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,” it added.

She said she checked into the hotel with her sister, who is also a senior citizen, on Nov. 25, 2022.

When they checked out on Nov. 27, the hotel refused to grant her the 12-percent VAT exemption and 20 percent discount, which are rights guaranteed under RA 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.

Rada wrote the hotel management, which apologized and offered to refund the 20 percent discount as well a a free overnight stay and breakfast for two.

She declined the offer and told the management that it should donate 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.”

In response, the management said it had supposedly conducted an employee training and informed the Philippine Hotel Owners Association about the benefits.

It, however, denied Rada’s request for donation to any senior citizens’ organization.

“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 hotel management said in a letter to Macalintal.

The case was brought before the DTI’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau for mediation, but no settlement was reached.

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