Three minute maximum waiting time for calls to customer service departments and a 15-day deadline for companies to respond to consumer complaints. The objective of the only regulation with the rank of law that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs has processed so far is to put a stop to abuses in consumer relations in the provision of this type of service by large companies and thus improve the protection of consumers to guarantee their rights. In case of non-compliance, companies will face fines of up to 100,000 euros for the most serious offences.
The Council of Ministers has approved this Tuesday in the second round the preliminary draft Law on Customer Services and, among other novelties, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs will limit the waiting time to be served by telephone in general services of information, claim and after sales.
In addition, when the regulations come into force, which now begins its processing as a bill in the General Courts, a time limit of 15 days will be set for companies to respond to customer complaints. However, the communities may reduce this period if their particular regulations contemplate it.
Wait times will also be shortened when there are problems with basic supplies. When the law is published in the BOE, the electricity, water or gas companies must inform about the reason for the incident and offer estimated supply restoration times within a period that may not exceed two hours.
Another of the provisions introduced by the law seeks to make it easier for consumers to be served by a natural person and not by a robot. Customers will have the option to request, at any time during the call or telematic communication, to be heard by a person with specialized training, regardless of whether the communication is initiated through robotic means.
The draft of the standard has received in recent weeks a barrage of criticism from the 'call center' sector and from consumer associations. Specifically, from the Spanish Association Experts in Customer Relations (Aeerc) they are opposed to companies in certain sectors being obliged to answer 24 hours every day of the year, considering that "it will undoubtedly generate considerable inefficiency in the allocation of personnel and means to guarantee that coverage. From Aeerc they also do not agree with the fact that a human person and not a robot is forced to answer because its implantation would complicate the procedures even more. They are also not satisfied with defining certain service times and consider it a measure that is not very operational and ineffective for customers.