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Goodbye to the eternal ‘wait online and you will be served’: In Spain they will fine companies that do not serve their customers in three minutes

In Spain it’s about to end “all of our operators are busy. Please wait online and you will be attended to” that is usually suffered every time you have to do a procedure by phone.

Because the Council of Ministers has just approved a bill so that those calls that end up getting on the nerves of those who have to make a management are attended in “less than three minutes”.

The draft bill of Customer Service which will now begin its processing in the Congress of Deputies and in the Senate also contemplates that “companies must offer personalized attention and professional to people as soon as they request it verbally”.

“There are many Spanish men and women who despair when they are faced with a customer service call waiting to be attended to or there are many who encounter serious difficulties to unsubscribe from a service by mechanisms that are comfortable”, said the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón.

The minister presented the draft at a press conference after his ministry’s proposal was approved at this week’s cabinet meeting.

Waiting times are over practically infinite that produce frustration and that generate an impatience that often produces the opposite effect and the person refuses to be attended, “explained Garzón.

“There are many Spanish men and women who despair when they are faced with a customer service call,” they say in the Spanish government. Photo: File

The minister criticized the “administrative labyrinths that prevent good treatment in customer service and that entail a waste of energy, money and time that suppose the effective renunciation of exercising the right of customer service”.

“I want to talk to a person”

“I want to talk to a person, not a machine”, The bill is promoted by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which aims to improve customer service by establishing that complaints must be resolved in a maximum of 15 days -and not 30, as is the current term-.

Another novelty: free phone calls they cannot be derived to paid numbers.

“I want to talk to a person, not a machine”, is the motto of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to promote the law.  Photo: Archive

“I want to talk to a person, not a machine”, is the motto of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to promote the law. Photo: Archive

If the power goes out…​

“If there is a basic supply cut, such as water or electricity, the company must inform you of the reason for the problem and give you an estimated time for the restoration of the service in less than two hours”, they explain from the Ministry of Consumption.

The Second Vice President and Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, celebrated the draft: “Protect consumer rights and guarantees a personalized response,” he said.

These measures aimed at improving customer service will be applied to companies, public or privatethat imply some type of consumption by citizens and that have more than 250 workers or a turnover of more than 50 million euros.

Those who fail to comply with what is finally established by the Customer Service Law, according to the draft approved so far by the ministers of the PSOE-Podemos coalition government, must pay fines of between 150 and 100,000 euros.

“I’m older, not an idiot”

“As in all laws, you have to read the points, the commas and all the aspects of the bill. I am waiting to find out all the text so I can comment on it, ”he says to Clarion Carlos San Juan, the 78-year-old retired urologist who a few months ago revolutionized all of Spain with his campaign “I’m older, not an idiot” to claim that the banks have more personalized care for the elderly who is not familiar with technology.

Online procedures for everything, a problem for the older ones.  Photo: Martin Bonetto

Online procedures for everything, a problem for the older ones. Photo: Martin Bonetto

San Juan gathered almost 650,000 signatures through the petition platform and presented them at the Ministry of Economy, where he was received by the Minister and Vice President of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calvino.

“I am almost 80 years old and it makes me very sad to see that the banks have forgotten older people like me,” Don Carlos lamented.

“Now almost everything is online… and not all of us understand each other with machines. We don’t deserve this exclusion”, he said in his claim.

In the initiative he explained that “they do not stop closing branches, some ATMs are complicated to use, others break down and nobody solves your doubtsthere are procedures that can only be done online… And in the few places where there is face-to-face attention, hours are very limited, you have to make an appointment by phone but you call and nobody picks up… And they end up redirecting you to an application that, again, we don’t know how to use. Or sending you to a distant branch that you may not have a way to get to.”

As soon as the claim of the Valencian San Juan became public, Banco Santander announced an extension in its schedule face-to-face attention to the public. Others, such as BBVA, Abanca and Sabadell, enabled a free line for people over 70 years old which, in the case of Sabadell, attends until 7:00 p.m..

“They had promised that in the law there would be a defender of the financial user in such a way that, when we felt harmed, we would be able to present a claim free of charge, that is, without a lawyer or solicitor. As long as it was less than 20 thousand euros. And the bank, automatically, had to deposit 250 euros as a deposit. This was to improve the current situation in which we have no one to attend to us”, says Don Carlos.

“In my city, Valencia, things have improved, but at a rural level, in the towns, it hasn’t improved at all the situation. Banking is not considered a public service, no matter how much it is the way to collect our pensions, and more and more offices are closing, ”he laments.

Madrid. Correspondent


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