Protecting consumer rights is one of the reasons why the the UN has been celebrating World Consumer Day since 1983. The day is 15 March, referring to a speech given by John Kennedy in 1962 in which the fundamental role of consumers in the production process was first recognised.

In our country, article 51 of the Constitution covers the right of consumers to have the public powers guarantee their health, safety and legitimate economic interests, whilst the 2007 General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users expands on it and defines specific aspects such as product labelling and the right to compensation. Furthermore, the different autonomous communities have their own regulations in this matter.

What are the basic rights of consumers?

In accordance with the law of 2007, consumers and users have six basic rights:

  1. Protection against risks for the health and safety of employees.
  2. Protection of our legitimate financial and social interests.
  3. Compensation for and repair of damage.
  4. Correct information about goods and services, as well as dissemination about their correct use, and consumption.
  5. The hearing, participation in the procedure for preparing the general provisions that affect us directly and the representation of our interests.
  6. The protection of these rights using effective procedures, particularly in situations of inferiority, subordination and defenselessness.

If you have purchased a good or service and you believe that one or more of your rights as a consumer have been violated, you can file a compliant. Here we tell you where and how to do so.

Where to claim your rights as a consumer

All autonomous communities have a Directorate General of Consumer Affairs, where you can file your complaints and get information about your rights or receive training for responsible consumerism. You can also contact local consumer information offices that are distributed throughout Spain and that are dependent on City Councils.

On a national level, the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (Aecosan) is the reference for giving value to our rights as consumers. This agency monitors the markets, controls the registration of consumer and user associations and works to promote healthy nutrition, among other functions.

Lastly, you can also contact one of the consumer associations or the following specific bodies that control certain sectors:

  • The Secretary of State for Information Society and Digital Agenda in the telecommunications sector.
  • The State Agency for Aviation Safety (AESA) for air transport.
  • The Bank of Spain's Complaints Department for banks and financial institutions.
  • The National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) for investments.
  • The Complaints Department of the Directorate General of Insurance and Pension Funds (DGSFP) for insurance.
  • The National Commission for Markets and Competition for supplies companies.
  • The Spanish Data Protection Agency for conflicts with personal data.

Step-by-step of how to make a complaint

The first step in any complaint consists of trying to reach a friendly agreement with the owner of the establishment or the customer service department of the company you want to complain about. In fact, when you go straight to a governmental body to file your complaint, in most cases, it will also try to ensure that both parties involved reach an agreement.

If you contact the party you wish to make a complaint to and an agreement is not possible, you can try submitting a complaint form. They are free and all businesses should be able to provide you with one. You can also download it from the governmental body of your autonomous community.

These are the steps for presenting a complaint form:

  1. Request and clearly and concisely fill in the document.
  2. The form has 3 pages: One for you, another for the party you are complaining about and a third to give to the relevant body.
  3. You can process the complain by sending it by post or handing it in at any of these organisations: Directorate General for Consumer Affairs, OMIC, association of users or the Consumer Ombudsman.
  4. If you deem it necessary, attach any documentation that backs up your complaint, such as a receipt or proof of guarantee.
  5. The governmental body will contact the party you are filing a complaint against to reach an agreement.
  6. If this is not possible and said party has breached a consumer regulation, a disciplinary proceeding will be opened which could result in a fine.

The conflict is sometimes passed from the governmental body to the Consumer Ombudsman System, regulated by the Consumer Ombudsman, whose function is precisely to resolve consumer complaints. The process tends to last for 6 months and its resolutions are binding. However, for the Ombudsman to accept a case, both parties must voluntarily agree to its participation.

What does a complaint form look like?

The complaint form varies from one autonomous community to the next. But the format is always the same: 3 carbon copy pages: the original copy is white, the second it green and the third is yellow.

It must indicate the information of the person making the complaint and that of the party against whom the complaint is being made, the date of the occurrence, and clearly explain the reason for the complaint and the object being claimed.

It is possible to confuse the official complaint forms with other forms that some establishments also make available for users to make complaints and suggestions. To avoid this, you can distinguish the complaints form because it has the consumer logo of the relevant autonomous community.

Complaint or accusation

If you think that the violation of your rights as a consumer could be construed as a crime, you can file an accusation with any of the consumer governmental bodies. They will look at the facts and decide whether there has been a violation.

What is the difference between a complaint and an accusation? In general, the purpose of a complaint is to find a solution to a conflict between a consumer and a company, whilst an accusation is regarding compliance of the law in matters of consumer affairs, and the benefit that can be derived is both individual and collective.

Both options can be used to exercise our rights as consumers. Rights regulated by different institutions and that we celebrate on 15 March, World Consumer Day.

Quina és la diferència entre una reclamació i una denúncia? En línies generals, l’objectiu de la reclamació és buscar una solució al conflicte entre un consumidor i una empresa, mentre que la denúncia persegueix el compliment de la llei en matèria de consum, i el benefici que pot implicar no és tant individual com col·lectiu.

Ambdues opcions serveixen per exercir els nostres drets com a consumidors. Uns drets regulats per diferents institucions i que celebrem el 15 de març, Dia Mundial del Consumidor.


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