Latest national irritant

CTALK - Cito Beltran (The Philippine Star) - November 11, 2020 - 12:00am

What was supposed to be a simple matter of providing your name, address and contact number as you enter buildings and establishments for contact tracing purposes has become the latest national irritant largely caused or exaggerated by mall owners and operators. As I went around doing my errands these past few days, my radar ears quickly picked up countless grumblings and public display of annoyance by consumers who were apparently irked at having to fill up contact tracing forms or using their phones to do likewise at the entrance of malls and at every store, shop or food outlet they wanted to enter inside a mall. People repeatedly complained and pointed out the fact that they already filled up forms or scanned QR codes at the entrance of the mall or building they were in. Why in heaven’s name did they have to repeat the process upon entering outlets inside that mall?

On the average most of those customers visited or did business with at least four or five outlets and filling up all those forms ate up approximately 15 minutes of their time at the mall. Aside from the time consuming, momentum busting, shopping experience damper, customers simply could not believe that malls would impose those repeated registrations, which to them was poor management and inefficiency. One well-known building I visited in the heart of the Makati business district required so much data beyond the name, address and mobile number. As I scanned the electronic form I really felt like I was filling up a job application form or a national statistics survey. But here is the worst part of it all – the representatives or personnel of all those outlets universally blamed the DTI and the IATF and LGU. Most of those employees at restaurants, security guards etc., would almost always say they have to follow because some outlets have already been closed by the DTI or the LGU!

Common sense would teach us that if the security guards at the entrance of those malls or buildings strictly required the name, address and contact number and that information was stored properly and confidentially, the mall and the LGU would have sufficient means to contact trace all individuals who passed through or entered the business establishment. Maybe they just don’t want the public to see people falling in line at their entrances. If COVID-19 was reported at any outlet or store inside, the mall operators simply have to text blast everyone who was inside the building. Some eager beaver claimed that the reason for the repeated registry is in order to isolate exposure down to a specific store or outlet. Good luck on that one; one infected person could be visiting several stores, the toilet, the parking area, walking in between cars, etc. Some drivers stay in or around their vehicles and could be exposed and we wouldn’t know it because they did not sign up because they did not enter the mall proper. This shows “The Exaggerators” that their plan is not fool proof, simply foolish. Register people at the main entrance or entrances ONCE.

As for the blame game, I hope the Department of Trade and Industry can spend more time fine tuning policies with actual customer experience from registration for contact tracing as well as “social distancing” during dining. I feel that husband and wife or single-family units should not have to sit one seat apart. They all live in the same house, traveled in the same vehicle and yet the IATF opts to be blind to that reality. It’s all a matter of checking and adjusting rather than ignore and take the blame.

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A representative from EON advertising and PR contacted me regarding my column and disappointing experience with FedEx and it seems that the outlet we went to was not a “main” outlet but more like a franchisee called FedEx To Go. Short version is they will look into it. In the meantime when the column came out a couple of our dear readers reacted and pointed out that Philpost, our national postal service, was hassle free: Dan Guevarra, a retired SSS employee, shared that they also tried sending a care package to their daughter in London with much the same minimal content we had in our package. They went to a well-known Philippine courier provider but were told the same about customs and FDA requirements. They turned around and went to Philpost, was assisted by a nice seniorly lady “and in no time our package was secured in a box and reached our daughter’s birthday on time.”

In a Facebook group called “Filipinos going Dutch” at least five individuals recommended that we use Philpost because they are “faster and cheaper” and “no random fees or charges.” It seems that the old Philippine Post Office has redeemed itself and is far from becoming obsolete. I have seen their displays in past events before the pandemic and they definitely had a more modern packaging and marketing approach. I guess it’s time to try them out.

Mike Lloren, a retired DHL employee, highly and loyally recommended DHL and this was expressed by other people on Facebook. It seems that although DHL is more expensive, they take out the hassle in dealing with customs, which they undertake themselves. Ron Nethercutt wrote: “Dear Cito, I have also had problems with FedEx who will not forward mail to PO Boxes. As a retired and legal resident for 20 years, I must send documents to businesses that do not use a street address, but a PO Box. Some of these include tax returns to IRS (US), US insurance companies, savings banks, retirement plans, absentee ballots, etc.”

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E-mail: utalk2ctalk@gmail.com

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