Caveat Emptor

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By Dennis Limlingan

The Advocate

Thursday, January 30, 2014

CAVEAT emptor is a Latin phrase that when translated into the English language would simply means “Let the buyer beware.”

The phrase comes from the fact that buyers often have less information about the good or service they are purchasing, while the seller has more information. Defects in the good or service may be hidden from the buyer, and only known to the seller. Thus, the buyer should beware.

Under the said principle, the buyer cannot recover damages from the seller for defects on the thing bought except when the seller actively concealed latent defects or made material misrepresentations that constitutes fraud.


Here’s a story about a friend who have made a purchase of an android mobile phone from an authorized outlet of a Philippine-made branded mobile telephones and tablets manufacturer in one of the two giant malls in Pampanga.

He bought the said mobile phone before Christmas using his savings that he saved for several months. It was his treat for himself that he purchased the mobile phone for P15,000 from his hard-earned salaries.

Without being too lavish for things, he made sure to somehow save a little of his finances to realize his dream of somehow having a nice “high-tech” mobile telephone that is at par with today’s information technology gears and gadgets.

After just more than a month of his usage and without misusing it, my friend’s mobile phone bogged down and cannot be anymore turned-on. It’s LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) of its touch–screen phone cannot simply light up, thus cannot serve its purpose.

My friend went back to the mobile phone’s store where he bought the same, only to be told by the store owner that they have to get his phone for a test and repair if needed.

Two weeks after he was promised of his phone to be checked by the store technician from a third party repair shop, he was told that it would take another two weeks for the phone to be repaired and be returned to the owner.

Disgruntled, he went directly to the authorized service center where the mobile phone was brought for repair.

As I was told, the attending desk officers of the service center showed not even an iota of remorse or regret as to what happened to the mobile phone brought at their establishment for the repair. They were not even paying attention to my friend who is merely making a follow-up on the status of his phone. He was told finally that they have no schedule yet as to when the mobile phone would finally be in repaired good condition.

Another two weeks have passed and there were no calls from the mobile phone store or from the service center.

The actuations of the authorized dealer and service center of the mobile phone company, the delay incurred for the repair and return of the mobile phone, plus the false hopes that they have given to my friend has compelled the latter to file a complaint before the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to assert for my friend’s rights and welfare as a consumer.

The DTI has set for the mediation of both parties, with the hope of resolving the issue while on its early stage and perhaps avoid the aggravation of my friend’s complaint.

When the meeting of my friend and the store owner, the latter stated lame excuses and alibis that she tends to simply pass the blame to the service center. Upon the mediation efforts of the DTI officer who is handling the case, the store owner who has just ended a call from her personal mobile phone, has said that the phone was finally repaired and is ready for pick-up.

What is amusing is the fact that store owner and even the service center were at first adamant to immediately repair for the mobile phone of my friend. After a complaint has been filed with the DTI acting as a quasi-judicial body, the phone has been instantly repaired, despite the promise that it has to take more weeks before the same can finally be used.

The mobile phone manufacturer is a Filipino company that brags about the world-class quality of their products. Despite the company’s advertisement and publicity of the quality of their mobile telephones, it has brought disappointments and frustrations to my friend who was hoping nevertheless that Filipino-made products are now at par with the electronic gadgets of other countries.

Upon his personal investigation, there have been a lot of complaints on the mobile phone brands for their hidden defects and poor quality of their gadgets. My friend regretted that he could have scrutinized the mobile phone carefully before finally purchasing it. It’s a very valuable and costly lesson he has learned.

Buyers beware.


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Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 31, 2014.


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