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Rough Cuts | Sustaining family businesses

We were in the Island Garden City of Samal over the week-end, particularly in sitio Camudmud. We noticed the fast development of the village since the once sleepy island was converted into a city and has made tourism as its prime industry.

There are beautiful vacation houses sprouting and we saw one that has its slabs already poured. From all indications it is going to be an imposing one when completed. It is overlooking the beach area and whoever stays there can have a 180 degree angle of its surrounding sceneries.

Of course we cannot help but inquire from our host family who is the very lucky Samaleno owner of the rising vacation house. And we were surprised to learn the name of the person identified as the owner.

The person is not from Samal but from Davao City.

The owner, according to our host, is a retired national government agency official. The same person was later tapped by the local government to play a key function in a unit that is fast becoming a household word given a problem that is threatening the sanity of the city population these days.

The person, we were told, is also reported to be making good in the business venture that he/she operates, apparently aided by the clout of the position the said vacation house owner holds in the local government.

Indeed some people seem to have luck all the time, not just at certain times.

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And talking of businesses we cannot help but grind what remain of our aging teeth with one practice we have discovered among Calinan hardware owners.

Lately we bought some construction materials intended for minor repairs of our house in the rural area of Tugbok district. Since the items were mostly steel and plywood and have certain lengths that require a vehicle designed for delivery purposes, we first did some sort of canvassing to find out which of the stores has such service unit and sells the more affordable price of the items we need.

To our chagrin each of the stores we have approached told us that they will not deliver because the number of materials we intend to buy falls under what they term as “underload.” So we asked if they can just charge us with a fixed delivery service cost.

However, instead of giving us a fixed amount the hardware management told us to buy a minimum of two (2) cubic meters of quarry materials like sand, gravel, or stones. And the cost is P700 per cubic meter. That is P1,400 in all to be added to our purchase cost.

But what got our goat out was our discovery that the quarry material suppliers and supposedly the delivery truck owners are either the spouse of the registered hardware owner, his or her sibling, or his/her parents, son/daughter.

So, there can only be the following options left for the customer. First, he or she has to add more to the hardware items to be purchased so that these can meet the load volume required to have them delivered.

Second, the customer has to submit to the devious scheme of the hardware owner/s. That is, purchase from their sister firm building materials that the customer has no need for. And third, the customer has to hire a vehicle providing delivery services which could possibly be costlier.

Now, is not this practice a violation of certain laws governing operation of businesses in the country?

Cannot the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) regulate businesses as far as their charging delivery cost of merchandise purchased from their establishments is concerned?

Cannot the DTI oblige such establishments to come up with some kind of a tariff or “taripa” to determine the volume of purchases that the dealer has the right to put an add-on amount representing delivery cost factoring in the distance of the place of delivery in the computation?

While we agree that businessmen have the freedom to make innovative strategies in selling their wares, there must be some ways where the DTI as government trade practices regulator, can insure that the welfare of customers are being protected from the abuses of scheming capitalists.

May be it is about time that the local offices of the Trade Department let some of its people out of the confines of their respective air-conditioned offices and check on the practices of businessmen that are detrimental to the buying public.

And who are these Calinan hardware owners who seem to have an unwritten agreement to perpetuate this particular abusive practice? All their family names read and sound Chinese although they now speak the Visayan tongue much better than some Davaoeno lumads or indigenous peoples.

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We are seeking apology from our readers for missing this space in yesterday’s issue of this paper. We were in our rural residence supervising some minor repair works done on the house. We were unable to get back to the city’s downtown to meet the deadline for submission of our Rough Cuts column.

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