The Government wants to put an end to the bad practices of many companies in their customer service. This Tuesday, the Council of Ministers approved the preliminary draft of the Customer Service Law, which will now begin its processing in the Cortes. The new package of measures seeks to remedy, according to the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, “the headaches of families”, who sometimes face slow and complex procedures to solve incidents. Among them, the rule includes the obligation to serve the customer in a maximum time of three minutes in general information, claim and after-sales services. A limit that can lead companies that do not have enough personnel dedicated to these tasks to have to expand their workforce if they do not want to break the law.
In addition, general claims must be resolved in 15 business days, and not in 30 days, the margin in force until now – the autonomous communities are free to lower it even more, if their regulations so estimate. And in the event of power outages, basic service companies such as electricity, water and gas must report the reason for the incident and notify how long it will take to restore the service before two hours have passed, a way of alleviating the uncertainty of those who await its restoration without knowing if it will last for a few minutes or a few hours.
In the press conference after the Council of Ministers, Garzón criticized the fact that some companies have set up “administrative labyrinths that prevent good treatment in customer service and that entail a waste of energy, money and time that they suppose the effective renunciation of exercising the right of customer service”.
Therefore, they will not be able to have only machines to solve customer problems. If this is required at any time during the call or telematic communication, it must be possible to be attended by a person “with specialized training”, beyond the fact that answering machines do intervene in the first exchanges. The basic service companies of general interest will have to offer a customer service available 24 hours a day, and they will not be able to refer calls to telephones that imply a cost. And energy operators must report on energy saving and efficiency measures, as well as the possibilities of contracting energy from renewable sources.
Up to 100,000 euros fine
Consumption believes that the rule protects the rights of consumers, especially the most vulnerable, at a time when the debate on customer service has dominated much of the agenda in areas such as banking, due to the lack of service in rural areas and the difficulties of older people and those without digital knowledge to operate with their accounts. In the note sent to the media, Consumption refers to them. “Financial services will ensure their customers the availability of face-to-face channels, whether permanent or intermittent, by telephone or telematics, in accordance with the principle of personalized provision. Therefore, the age of the person, where they live or their level of digital skills will be taken into account to avoid situations of financial exclusion.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
The punitive part of the new law contemplates fines of between 150 and 10,000 euros for minor infractions, but the amount can rise up to 100,000 euros if the victims are vulnerable consumers or if there is recidivism.