Most service and goods retailers are aware of consumers’ rights these days and they tend to be obliging when a client has a valid complaint. All the same, as everything in life, the exception is always there to annoy and irritate, like the shop owner who might refuse to exchange, repair or return the money for faulty merchandise.
Luckily, even in Spain, consumers have some recourse for protection offered by the “Consumer Protection Legislation and Procedures available free of charge to all consumers.
Firstly, register your complaint ask for the “Libro de Reclamaciones”. Every business open to the public, be it a bank, a restaurant, a shoe shop or whatever must have one by law, not having one may suggest that they may not have been granted a licence to trade by the local council. As a matter of fact, they must visibly display a notice to the effect that they have such a book. If they do not display the notice, do not have such a book or refuse to present it on request, they are committing a serious offence.
Once you have filled in the form, you give one copy to the retailer and keep the other two for 10 days to give the retailer an opportunity to reply.
If they do not or you are not satisfied with their reply, you can then forward the appropriate copy to the Consumers Office at the local council where the problem arose, if they do not have one then to the main Consumer office to which the council has to give account.
All E.U. members are subject to a general set of measures for the protection of the consumer and Spain is no exception. Spain has set up a government body to co-ordinate the protection of these rights and named it the Instituto Nacional del Consumo.
In case of assistance you can always consult their website which is also available in English (www.consumo-inc.es/en/home.htm). You will find this department particularly useful if you are resident outside Spain and wish to complain against a Spanish supplier or if you are a Spanish resident and wish to complain about a supplier in another EU country.
All complaints made through the “Libro de Reclamaciones” are looked into and you will find that the retailers usually become a lot more cooperative if you ever get to the point when you see no alternative and have to ask for it as it may be more expedient to sort the matter out rather then risking enquiries that may also en up with the imposition of fines.
Of course the consumer protection is not afforded just in respect of retailers; it also covers other professions and services such the rights as a consumer when purchasing a property. The Spanish lawyer acting for you in your property purchase should ensure that all his legal checks are completed prior to your purchase. If your vendor does not supply the necessary information or conduct himself correctly according to the Spanish consumer law the local consumer office is a useful “tool” that your lawyer can use to put pressure on the vendor or developer to act correctly.
Should everything fail and should you still feel strongly about your complaint, then your other recourse is to consult your solicitor for advice, but at least you would have used your free option first!