Protect the delivery service riders from fake, fickle customers

Published June 14, 2021, 12:12 AM

by Manila Bulletin

The delivery service riders are now a regular sight around commercial and residential areas around the country. They are the frontliners who connect people in quarantine to the essential things they need.

During the strict lockdowns until today when restrictions have been eased, the delivery riders risk their safety to bring food, medicines, and supplies to people who are following the government advice to stay home.

And more than that, the delivery service providers have become the strong support team of entrepreneurs who went into food and non-food businesses to earn a living to support their families.

But all has not been well with the people in the home delivery business. Despite facing the risk of COVID-19, the riders have also faced the risk of being booked by fake and fickle customers who cause them much angst and loss of income. The fake customers order food to be delivered to an address just to play a joke on the residents there. The fickle customers cancel their orders even after the rider had paid for them.

The many incidents of those unfortunate situations encouraged lawmakers to file bills to protect the thousands of food delivery riders whose function has become essential under the new normal lifestyle.  But more than that, the lawmakers have seen the need to establish the integrity of the cash-on-delivery (COD) online purchase especially when it comes to food purchases.

The bills are Senate Bill 1677 filed by Senator Lito Lapid, and House bill 6958 filed by Ako Bicol party-list Representative Alfredo Garbin Jr..

Senate Bill 1677 provides “measures to protect individuals engaged in food and grocery delivery services.” It seeks to “establish a mandatory reimbursement scheme in favor of delivery riders/drivers” to cover the entire amount of money advanced to purchase the ordered items, in case of cancellation of confirmed orders.”

House Bill (HB) No. 6958, or the Food and Grocery Delivery Services Protection Act, makes it “unlawful for any customer to cancel confirmed orders for the delivery of food and/or grocery items when the said items have already been paid for.”

Very recently, the  Lower House approved HB 7805 that consolidated HB 6958 filed by Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin with HB 6122 authored by Rep. Wes Gatchalian of Valenzuela City.

HB 7805 is entitled “An Act Providing Protection to Consumers and Merchants Engaged in Internet Transactions, creating for the purpose the Electronic Commerce Bureau or the Internet Transactions Act.

It protects both the consumers and persons and merchants involved in internet transactions.

The House version proposes consumers found guilty of breaking the law will be fined P50,000, while erring platform operators and online merchants, P500,000 to P5 million.

HB 7805 has been passed or approved on third and final reading by the House of Representatives. However, SB 1677 still has to be approved by the Senate.

When the bill finally becomes a law, it will be a big boost to the integrity of online shopping.