Archive for July, 2016

I commend President Duterte’s administration. It has been working nonstop to deliver its promises. His proposal to institute a national emergency hotline is one thing that we should be looking forward to; however, the implementation reeks of capitalization.

A national emergency hotline is not a new thing. The Philippines actually has an existing system – Patrol 117 – manned by the Department of Interior and Local Government. Reports suggest that the hotline’s majority of calls received are prank calls. Come August, 117 will redirect to 911, and will go through a transition period.

Yet I can’t completely celebrate this move. Not when it’s charged the same rate as a regular call and on top of that, the duopoly telcos have already announced a premium of P5 pesos, purportedly to discourage prank callers. Of course the telcos are only too happy to make the charges; they can (and actually do) point to the government’s suggestion to charge the premium, but still.

What this means is that in case of a legitimate emergency, you had better hope you have enough load credits for a call, plus the five pesos on top, or else forget about asking for help. To me, a system that is supposedly put in place to assist during emergency should be easily available; the last thing on people’s mind during an emergency should be where to top up to make an emergency call. It’s just pouring salt to the wound.

I don’t buy that penalizing everyone will actually discourage prank callers. Like the issue on piracy, the ones that are being hurt by these draconian schemes are the legitimate users (callers in this case).

I urge the President, the NTC, and the DILG to think this through. What good is an emergency hotline if people can’t readily reach it. Access to help during an emergency shouldn’t come with a price tag.

Update:

Lest it be said that I merely complain without offering a solution, here’s one: Blacklist the mobile number used for every prank call. I don’t mean just on the hotline. The telcos can and should block that subscriber’s SIM card permanently rendering it unusable. If you want to go for the extreme, you can blacklist the handset as well. If that doesn’t discourage them, nothing will. Penalize the pranksters, don’t make life harder for everyone else.

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I buy stuff online. On Amazon, I buy CDs and e-books. You can actually buy a lot of items directly on amazon.com and have them shipped to the Philippines if you’re willing to pay shipping, custom and importation fees and deal with the hassle of our local customs and post offices. The fees could rack up to a sizeable amount though, which is why I’ve limited my purchases of physical items to CDs mostly, as they only get charged the shipping fee and no more.

In comes Lazada, which operates in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and of course, the Philippines.

The Site

In the Philippines, shoppers can browse through http://www.lazada.com.ph/ or use the mobile app that is available on iOS and Android devices. There are categories that you can select from or if you have a particular item in mind, a search box is prominently displayed for accessibility and convenience.

The Shopping Experience

For my shopping needs, though, I find the selection inadequate or even completely lacking. For instance, there are no one-sixth scale toys to be found for sale. But I admit that’s a niche item. But search for “Superman” and the selection isn’t that great, either.

Still, for most, the selections are plenty enough. There’s apparel, shoes, electronics, home appliances and more.

The great thing about Lazada is the generally lower price. You’ll often find discounts and promotions for various items.

The bad thing is that for some that claim the price is discounted, the original price appears to be inflated. So if you just look at the discount rate, and have no idea how much that item actually retails on other shops, you might end up actually paying more for it. Take this listing for an iPhone 5s for example. Wow, a 46% discount! Sarcastic smile

Ordering, Payment and Delivery

Ordering is simple and straightforward. You shop around, add items to your cart and then checkout when you’re done.

Payment can be made a variety of ways – credit card, bank payment, thru PayPal or even cash on delivery. Not all items, especially those that are imported, allow CoD unfortunately. For those that do allow it, I highly recommend paying with cash over paying via credit card. If you pay thru credit card (or any pre payment scheme) and you happen to be not around when they deliver, they require that you provide the recipient a letter of authority with photocopies of your (and your authorized recipient’s) proofs of identity. But with CoD, even if you’re not there, you just leave the payment, no other questions asked. I understand it’s for security purposes, but it really is a pain in the neck for the customer.

Delivery is where they truly shine, since they have their own network delivery system called Lazada Express (LAX). Next day delivery is not off the table if the item is available and you live in the city. Delivery in provinces may take longer but only by a few days.

Customer Service

I haven’t really needed to contact customer service so I don’t have much to say in this area. But they do notify you via e-mail and text messages the status right up to the actual delivery of the package. So no complaint from me here.

Verdict

Go ahead and shop at Lazada. Just be on the lookout for sketchy deals and discounts. Look at the item reviews if available. And when in doubt, we are still surrounded by (a lot of) physical malls, so shop around. The walk may also do you good.