The European Consumer Center in Spain (ECC-Spain) and the Telecommunications User Service Office of the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda have held a meeting in which have participated the Subdirector General de Coordinación, Calidad y Cooperación en Consumo of the AECOSAN, Nelson Castro; the Head of the European Center, Pilar Biesa; as well as the Subdirector General of the Office of the Telecommunications User, Ramón Pérez de Vargas. During the meeting, the different needs of ECC-Spain have been analysed in order to offer more specialized assistance.
In this sense, it has been agreed to establish a collaboration procedure to manage the queries and claims that arrive to ECC-Spain from EU consumers that have contracted electronic communications services with operators established in Spain. This agreement is added to other already established with different Spanish institutions such as the Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea (AESA) or Banco de España.
The refund of amounts improperly invoiced, the denial of the portability of the telephone number, the non-compliance of the offers offered by the companies or the refusals of the registration or cancellation of an operator are just some of the queries that citizens can make and which would enter within this collaboration agreement.
In his speech, Mr. Castro pointed out the important role played by the European Consumer Center in dealing with inquiries and complaints about cross-border consumption of the European Union, highlighting that it is currently the contact point of the Online Dispute Resolution platform ( ODR) and that at the end of 2018 it will also be the contact point in the field of Geoblocking once the new European Regulation on Geoblocking begins to be applied. This Geoblocking Regulation will allow to put an end to the obstacles in Internet purchases within the EU and with which all European citizens will have the same conditions when buying online, regardless of their nationality or the country from which the purchase is made.
For his part, the Subdirector of the Telecommunications User Service Office has highlighted the sanctioning nature of his Office as well as the final resolutions issued are binding on companies. He has also referred to the fact that -during recent years- there have been more complains related to third-party payment services made through telephone operators. In this way, it has shown that The Spanish Telecommunications User Service Office is recognizing the right of the consumer to, when appropriate, be refunded the money wrongfully charged. He also pointed out that, in these cases and as far as possible, companies should make more efforts in offering hiring or subscription in the most transparent and clear way.
Mr. Pérez de Vargas also pointed out that he is analyzing the possibility of accrediting his Office as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body.
Other problems brought up have been the lack of regulation of online platforms that act as intermediaries between consumers and companies, or the difficulties that consumers have in using a foreign IBAN to set up a direct debit for services contracted in Spain. As a challenge for the future, the convenience of inspecting the consumer services of the companies has been proposed in order to guarantee the quality.
European Consumer Center in Spain
The European Consumer Centre in Spain (ECC Spain) is a project co-funded by the European Union and the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN). Forms part of the ECC-Net (European Consumer Centre-Network) formed by a total of 30 European Consumer Centres from each of the 28 Member States of the EU, Norway and Iceland.
Since their creation in 2005, each of these centres offers free personalised information, assistance and advice to national consumers who have experienced problems with transactions carried out in another country of the ECC-Net. The objective is to help citizens understand their rights as consumers and enjoy all the benefits of belonging to a single market.
But that is not all. The European Centres also contribute to improving consumer policies and legislation, thanks to close collaboration with the different national and European authorities. Our commitment: to reinforce the trust of consumers in European cross-border purchases and to defend their rights.
Telecommunications Customer Service Office
The Telecommunications User Service Office was born as a result of the need to establish specific mechanisms for the user of telecommunications and to manage an effective system to resolve their claims.
It is a Unit created within the General Directorate of Telecommunications and Information Technologies of the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda, and according to the article 6.2 Real Decreto 903/2017, of October 13, which develops the basic organic structure of the Spanish Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda.