Monthly Archives: August 2010

No 25 cents: Robinsons customers shortchanged

IF YOU SHOP at Robinsons Ilocos Norte–particularly in its supermarket, department store, and hardware—chances are you have experienced this, too.

Cashiers would round off your change to the nearest peso, most of the time to the benefit of the establishment, because they do not have twenty-five-cent coins.

For example, if your change is P12.45, they will give you only P12.00.  In some verified instances, the change is short, and purposefully, by as much as 70 cents.

Previously, the cashiers would ask, “Sir, ok lang po ba kung kulang ng (the amount)?  Today, though, most of them do not ask anymore, they just hold back the last fraction of your peso, and sans your consent.  They assume that you know about their unwritten policy.  They assume that it is just ok.

But even if the cashier asks, it is still not ok.  At best, the question is rhetorical, for they assume the answer: “Of course it is ok.  It must be ok.  Anyway, it is just 25 cents.”  Moreover, the consumer would feel ashamed to a cause a delay in the cashier’s work, especially when the line is long, and all for 25 cents. Continue reading

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Sex in our City: porn call centers flourish in Laoag

WE KNOW it happens somewhere, we know it abounds elsewhere, it is all over the Internet, yet it hurts deeply when it strikes home.  Porn-oriented call centers are here, and growing.

What began as underground operations in computer shops four years ago are now well established and stable.  There are at least four call centers of this kind operating in Laoag City.  Quite ironically, the biggest is located just a stone’s throw away from Bishop Sergio Utleg’s Palace.  Two are in the business district while one is situated within the vicinity of a public high school.  And there could be more.

Similar call centers also existed in Batac and Paoay, but were closed down because they did not have requisite permits.  Though of smaller scale compared to those located in Laoag, some are believed to be operating in San Nicolas.  Who would have thought that activities like these happen even in sleepy towns?

These call centers are not easy to spot, as most of them do not have conspicuous signage.  Their office set-up is not unlike that of a typical computer shop, you would think people inside are just the usual computer addicts, especially because most of them are young.

Mostly funded by foreigners who have local counterparts, these establishments choose to operate here not only due to cheap labor, but more because of the absence of strong Internet laws against online scam and fraud.  “Manggagago lang tayo ng Amerikano, kikita na tayo ng malaki habang nakaupo,” (Just by fooling foreigners, we can already earn big, and we are just seated.) is their trainors’ inspirational mantra to every new batch of call center agents. Continue reading

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