I have never had to make a claim against any business while I have lived on the island. In the past, I have returned a couple of electrical goods that have been within their 2-year guarantee and even when the specific model was no longer available a new version quickly replaced it with no arguments or even discussion, just ‘No Problema’. I have obviously been very fortunate, but that isn’t the case with some folk and the reason I am writing this blog is that a lady posted on the Facebook group I help to run Tenerife 4 All about what she should do with faulty goods.
So this article is about what any consumer should do if they have a complaint against a Spanish business be it a restaurant, bar, shop etc. It is about the official consumer complaint forms, known as Hojas de Reclamaciones, what they are and how to use them.
Most people have seen the notices close to the sales point that say “Existen hojas de reclamaciones a disposición del consumidor o usuario” roughly translated it says “Complaint forms available for consumers use”.
What is Hojas de Reclamaciones?
The form is the first step in the ‘official’ Spanish complaints procedure. The booklet is made up of forms in triplicate. The pages are numbered sequentially and consist of a top (white) original copy, a middle (green) copy for the consumer, a bottom (pink) copy which stays in the book. They are issued by the local authority and should be produced on demand.
How do I get the forms?
If you believe you have a complaint then politely ask for the “Hojas de Reclamaciones”. Often this will work like magic because the proprietor, will try to resolve the issue without recourse to this measure. Completing the form is a blot on the company records. If they get a number of similar blots, then the Consumer Office start to nose around the business, which is bad news.
But if no agreement can be reached, there is a legal requirement for all establishments to have the complaints book available, and you have the right to use it. If they refuse to produce the booklet, this is an offence in its own right and you could call the local police who will demand the forms and you should include in the complaint the fact that the hojas de reclamaciones were not available or were refused.
How do I use the form?
- You should complete the form in either English or Spanish (although obviously, it is better to do so in Spanish).
- State clearly the cause of the complaint. Keep it SIMPLE or your complaint might not be clearly understood. You should also say what solution you would like to see, such as refund, exchange or repair of goods etc.
- State the date and time relevant to the complaint.
- Complete your personal details, name, ID or passport number and address, sufficient for the Consumers Office to reply to you by post.
- You or possibly the establishment should state the details of the business itself. Every Spanish business has a set of official data which they are obliged to provide for the purposes of filling out the Hoja de Reclamaciones.
The establishment might wish to add some comments below what you have written, but usually, their comments are made separately.
- Sign the form.
- Make sure you have all the relevant information in your possession. This means invoices, receipts, guarantees etc. You will need these later.
Once all the relevant fields in the form are completed, YOU take the TOP TWO pages, that is the WHITE original and the GREEN consumers copy. You leave the PINK copy in the book for the business.
From the moment you complete the form the establishment has 10 working days to answer your complaint, therefore, you must let this period expire. If you are not answered or if the answer they offer is unsatisfactory, then you can take the WHITE original copy plus photocopies of the receipts, guarantees and any other document you believe relevant, to the local Oficinas Municipales de Información al Consumidor (OMIC) (List of addresses) You could also go to the local Ayuntamiento who will help with anything you need to know. This should be done within one month of completing the form. It is good to go in person if possible, as you can get a stamped official receipt for your complaint.
An official mediation process will be set up (this is NOT a court case, it is a civil arbitration process) and you could get a result between 2 weeks and 4 months, depending on how quickly the business responds to the consumer authority. You will hear by post to the address you put on the form. Keep all the documents and the GREEN copy in a safe place, in case you are asked for them.
If the arbitration goes your way, you should be compensated according to your demands on the form. The Spanish business might also be fined.
If you are a tourist and no longer on the island there is a chance you may wish to download and complete a claim form. You can do that using this pdf file for Adeje DOWNLOAD However unlike the forms in the booklets, these can only be completed in Spanish and because the original is required should be posted to the address at the bottom of the file.
I hope this has been a useful article into the way the Spanish handle the complaints procedure between a business and the consumer. I have certainly learnt something. 🙂