MADRID – The annoyance often arises from experience in advance: you have to call a customer service, and already know it will take lots of time. Moreover, the question is often also whether you will manage to get a real human being on the phone at all.
Therefore, the Spanish government has a solution. The idea is to limit the waiting time for telephone customer service to 3 minutes. To this end, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs put forward a proposal. In turn, the Council of Ministers has approved the draft law to regulate the customer service of companies. This bill aims to limit the waiting time for telephone assistance in information services, claims, and aftermarket.
As explained by Consumer Affairs Minister Garzón, “the companies will have to demonstrate by the end of the year that 95% of the calls they have answered fall within those three minutes”. However, the big question is, of course, how the ministry intends to enforce this.
“The endless waiting times that cause frustration and impatience and that eventually lead to the person giving up, are over,” the minister emphasised. According to Garzón, these measures are urgently needed. “Because far too many companies create bureaucratic labyrinths to prevent you from exercising your right to service”.
The law, affects all utilities and other businesses with more than 250 employees or sales of €50 million or more. Furthermore, it also shortens the maximum time to resolve general claims from 30 to 15 business days. In addition, autonomous communities can shorten this period.
Response from utilities within 2 hours
Likewise, the utilities that provide basic services (electricity, water, gas…) must inform the customer within 2 hours of the cause of the incident and also be able to estimate within those 2 hours how long it will take to resolve the incident.
Right to speak to an agent
In addition, in all businesses, consumers have the right to speak to a flesh-and-blood human if they wish, rather than having customer service performed by a robotic system. An automated answering service or a chatbot is no longer enough.
If companies do not comply with the new rules, the light sanctions consist of fines of up to €10,000. Whereas, for more serious breaches, fines can even reach up to €100,000.
People affected by power outages can also request compensation or discounts on bills via this customer service, for example in the case of electricity companies or telecommunications services.
24/7 free customer service
These and other procedures require businesses that provide basic services and services of general interest to have a free customer service channel available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In addition, they will not be able to forward calls to phones that incur charges.