HOTEL sales and marketing professionals are seeking government clarification on the application of the elderly discount after a five-star hotel in Metro Manila was cited for violating laws covering consumer rights and senior citizens’ (SC) privileges.
“We are currently conferring with the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) on the ruling as we have different channels of bookings,” said Loleth So, president of the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association, Inc. (HSMA) in a Viber message to the BusinessMirror. The move comes on the heels of a decision by the Pasig Prosecutors Office last December 21 recommending the filing of charges against two hotel executives for violating the Senior Citizen Act of 2010 and the Consumer Act of the Philippines. The hotel executives are employed in a major hotel in the city.
The decision arose after a senior citizen complained the hotel didn’t apply the mandatory 20-percent elderly discount and 12-percent value-added tax exemption on her bill because the rate she received via online booking was “on promo.” The guest booked the hotel through an online travel agency, which had offered a “Winter Promotion Rate.” Later, the prosecutors found the hotel didn’t have any DTI permit for the promo.
For her part, So explained that the common practice in the industry is to “apply whichever is higher in discount. As a general rule, the [SC] discount cannot be applied in conjunction with another promotional discount. [Also], promos must have a DTI permit.”
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda has said he intends to file an amendment to the Senior Citizens Act due to the confusion over its implementation, after his committee on ways and means heard testimony which showed Starbucks Philippines limited the grant of the 20-percent SC discount to just one drink and one food item per customer visit. “The problem is, we wrote [the law] differently…. So we need a remedial measure,” he said during the hearing on January 17.
On Wednesday, the coffee chain, which is locally owned by the Rustans Commercial Corp., treated seniors and persons with disability to a 40-percent discount the entire day as a way to make up for its earlier violation.
Seniors have also complained of the confusion in computing the SC discount. In some cases, a restaurant will deduct the 20-percent elderly discount on the sub-total, then apply the VAT and service charge to get the total bill, while others will divide the total bill to get a head count and apply the discount only on the seniors, while others apply the discount on the total bill after VAT and service charge is applied.
The case of the Pasig hotel was also raised at said congressional hearing, to which Salceda responded that the establishment should have given the guest both SC discount and VAT exemption, despite having booked a room at a promo rate.
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