Consumers will be able to demand that a human and not a machine answer their telephone complaints.

The Council of Ministers has approved the drafting of the draft Law with which the Ministry of Consumer Affairs regulates customer service services. Among other issues, the regulation will place limits on the use of answering machines with which companies interact with consumers, will guarantee care for vulnerable people and will make public the clients' evaluation of the care received.

The text, which is now beginning its processing, improves - according to the Executive - communications between consumers and companies and establishes obligations in the way of providing information, dealing with incidents and resolving complaints and claims.

The future law on customer care services will establish the right of consumers to obtain from the provider of goods and services free, effective, accessible, inclusive, non-discriminatory and assessable care. The companies that must adapt to this new regulation will be all those considered as "large companies", that is, with more than 250 workers, with an annual business of more than 50 million euros, or with a business balance of more than 43 million of euros.

Services 'of general interest'

Also, and regardless of their size, the law will be mandatory for all companies that provide basic services of general interest (water and energy, transportation, postal services, telephone services, electronic communications services, financial services and services provided through audiovisual means of conditional access for payment).

Therefore, it will not be mandatory for small and medium-sized companies, unless they provide basic services of general interest.

In the case of energy supply companies, the new standard regulates the possibility of accessing savings measures, energy efficiency and access to renewable sources through customer service.

New client rights and company obligations

In addition to regulating the use of answering machines or similar as exclusive means of customer service, the future law contemplates the obligation of the company to maintain a personalized communication when the consumer formulates a query, complaint, claim or communication of incidence, by telephone or electronics.

In the event of dissatisfaction with the care received, the consumer may request that the communication be transferred to a supervising natural person, who must attend to him during the same communication.

The law establishes limits on telephone waiting times and prohibits referral from a toll-free telephone to numbers that imply an additional cost for the customer. The hours of customer service will be adjusted to the business hours of the company. In the basic services of general interest, customer service will always be available for the communication of incidents in the service.

Claims resolved in one month

The draft law establishes that queries, complaints, claims or incidents will be resolved as quickly as possible and never in a period exceeding one month. The company will not be able to take advantage of these procedures with the client to offer goods, services or commercial offers, unless they are directly and clearly related to the resolution of the query, complaint, claim or incident. In any case, if an offer is produced, it must imply an improvement in the conditions of provision of the service or the price.

The companies will also be obliged to allow the presentation of claims, complaints, incidents or queries and the receipt of the communication of their resolution, at least, by the same means by which the purchase was initiated.

Truthful, effective, sufficient, transparent and updated information

Likewise, the company will have to provide an identification code and proof in writing, on paper or electronically, so that consumers can be aware of the status of their inquiries, complaints, claims and incidents presented.

There, the consumer will have access to truthful, effective, sufficient, transparent and updated information on any incident arising from the normal provision of the service. You will also be guaranteed the fair return of the price or other compensation, in case of breach or defective performance of the contract or commercial offer.

In any case, the means of communication enabled by the company must appear in the contract, in the invoices and on its website. In these supports, the information must be accessible and of a size that allows it to be easily read by the client and in a prominent place. If it is a website, it will be on the home page.

If the complaint or claim is made by telephone, the company will record the call and inform of the means to access it in the receipt that is sent. The responses to the client must be duly motivated and in no case may they be closed due to expiration or prescription not attributable to the clientele.

In the event of an incident that seriously affects the provision of the service or its continuity, the company must inform without the client having requested it, also indicating the rights and compensation that may apply.


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