I wasted three hours and P100 fare on Tuesday. Why? Because I went to the DTI for, it turned out, no reason at all.
But that's the end of the story. Let's start at the very beginning—a very good place to start. (I really should delete The Sound of Music from my desktop.
On January 12, 2011, I registered Escrive Writing and Editing and Blackie's Bed and Breakfast Pet Lodge with the DTI. I filled out the online application form, paid via G-Cash, and downloaded the certificate, all ready for printing.
Now, the instructions on the DTI NCR Web site goes:
There are three (3) modes in registering business names:I had chosen the second option: online, end-to-end.
- Purely over the counter - Registration can be done at any DTI Field Office. Here in NCR, DTI-NCR has four Area offices and three satellite offices
- Online end-to-end – File application online at www.bnrs.dti.gov.ph, pay the required fees through G-Cash, and print certificate at your place. However, the owner must go personally to DTI within 10 working days to present one photo-bearing national issued Identification Document (ID) and the duly-accomplished application form with signature.
- Hybrid – Combination of over the counter and online application
- File application online, pay and get certificate at DTI Office or at selected SM and Mail and More outlets
- File and pay online and get certificate at any DTI Office or at selected SM and Mail and More outlets
So after applying and paying online, I downloaded an application form, duly accomplished it, added my signature, and scrambled to DTI on January 25, nine working days after my date of registration, to submit the application form and my photo-bearing driver's license.
Beating the deadline—or so I thought
For good measure, I printed out the certificate along with the application form, for a reason I'm not sure of. I guess I'm just a bit paranoid when it comes to dealing with government offices.
Then I took the 10-minute walk from our house to the main road, rode an hour on the FX, took the MRT to Ortigas, bought myself four pieces of Master Siomai and a glass of gulaman drink, which I am never able to resist every time I use the MRT, chowed them down, then walked the rest of the way to the DTI office in front of SM Megamall.
I forgot the name of the building where the DTI was located, so when I saw a building with a Philippine flag in front, I walked in and asked the guard at the PCGG lobby where I could find DTI. He was nice enough to point it out to me.
When I got to DTI, there was a looooooong line. Well, it was a one-room office about 50 square meters big, so maybe it just looked crowded.
The security-and-information officer
The security guard at the door was, apparently, the information officer as well. He was explaining to a woman what she needed to do to register for a franchise, so I patiently waited my turn.
When he finally turned to me, I asked, "Kuya, saan ba ako dapat mag-submit nitong application form and ID?" (Sir, where should I submit my application form and ID?) He took a look at the application form I had printed out, then saw the DTI certificates I had also printed out.
"Ma'am, nakabayad na po kayo sa G-Cash, 'no?" (Ma'am, you've already paid with G-Cash, right?)
"Opo." (Yes, sir.)
"Wala na po kayong kailangan gawin. Pupunta lang po kayo dito kung may problema at hindi niyo ma-download yung certificate ninyo." (You don't need to do anything anymore. You only need to come here if there's a problem and you can't download your certificate.)
Oh-kay. Now I distinctly remember the Web site mentioning nothing about that. I don't need to go to DTI if I am able to download my certificate?
So, my paranoia kicking in, I asked Mr. Guard, "Are you sure? Are you very, very sure?"
He was sure.
Calling customer service
But I wasn't. So I called my husband and asked him to please go online and get me DTI's customer service number.
The text message arrived: 751-3330. (Yes, that's DTI's customer service number. I could have kicked myself for not calling it before leaving the house and trusting that Web site instead.)
I went back to the MRT to find a pay phone. The Ortigas station's Master Siomai lady pointed me to a PLDT pay phone—the coin type, which I had not used since I learned to use a cell phone. But I wasn't about to call a government office using my non-unlimited cell phone load. Luckily, I had a handful of change with me.
I dialled the number and inserted P1. "Thank you for calling DTI customer service. All our customer service officers are handling other calls at the moment . . . "
At P1 per minute, I knew I had to feed the phone more coins. So I dropped in P5. "All our customer service officers are handling other calls . . . " the speaker said again.
As my P5 ran out, I inserted P10, steeling myself to wait for ten more minutes. But while I still had P9 pesos credit, a customer service officer answered the phone.
I told her my story and repeated my question: "Is it true that I don't need to submit anything anymore if I am able to download the certificate?"
She put me on hold, conferred with, apparently, a seatmate, then confirmed what the guard said.
So, relieved to not have to join that long line in the small room, I bought another order of siomai and gulaman, ate it up before taking the MRT, then settled myself in an FX taxi for another hour-long ride home.
The good: The DTI online registration works. You can complete the whole registration process online. And, contrary to what their Web site says, you don't have to submit anything to the DTI office anymore if you are able to download your certificate.
The bad: The DTI NCR Web site needs updating. It's so easy to update a Web site. Why is their Web site not updated?
Moral: Before traveling to any government office, call them first to confirm any information you found on the Web site. Again, the DTI customer service number is (02) 751-3330.