Consumer rights

Consumer rights in Spain are covered by Ley 23/2003, de 10 de julio, de Garantias en la Venta de Bienes de Consumo.

EU law allows for a full 2 year guarantee on most products purchased, and for buyers to revoke the sales contract without penalty within the first seven days without even having to give a reason. The rules require stores to give a refund within 30 days. After the first seven days, customers have the right to exchange or refund only if the item is defective or is not “fit for purpose” (e.g. not as described). An item may well not be accepted as “defective” if it becomes faulty after the first six months.

Having said that, Spanish law does not provide an automatic right to a refund, and it is likely to be an arduous process to insist on the application of EU law. The practical reality, therefore, is that although many shops will offer a full refund in line with EU rules, smaller ones may not. The most important point to bear in mind is that store policy must be clearly displayed so that it can be checked at the point of purchase. This will usually be in the sales point. Any refunds that are given will be by the same method as payment was made.

These rights do not apply to:

  • products subject to price fluctuations that the seller cannot control
  • products that have been personalized, e.g. jewellery
  • products such as CDs, DVDs, or software which have been opened

If you feel that you have not been treated appropriately by an establishment providing goods or services, you are entitled by law to make a complaint using a complaints book. You will need to ask for “Hojas de Reclamaciones”, and the resistance you will meet will show immediately how seriously the system is taken! There is a legal requirement for all establishments to have a specific complaints book available, and the forms give consumers the means of making their complaint in the establishment itself. Depending on the nature of the complaint, filling out the form will initiate an investigation to determine whether any punishment is needed, and what it should be.

You need to be aware that you have the absolute right to one of these forms, and moreover, the business has the legal obligation to have a notice, clearly visible, that they are available. You should not accept any excuse for not handing one over on demand: shops refuse with a range of “reasons”, including that you haven’t bought anything, or the manager is not there and s/he’s the only one authorised to issue one, the forms are kept elsewhere or they ran out of them yesterday. There is no reason imaginable that is not a direct lie or an offence in its own right. If you meet with a blank refusal to supply the book, you can present a complaint in whichever manner is considered most appropriate (this can even include calling or going to the police), and should include in the complaint the fact that the hojas de reclamaciones were not available or were refused.

The hojas de reclamaciones will be in Spanish and English, and you can write your complaint in either. They will be numbered and in sets comprising a white sheet (for administrative purposes), a pink sheet (for the establishment you’re complaining about) and a green sheet (for you). The establishment must complete the identification details. When filling out the form, you should state your name, address, and ID number or passport, and fill in all the relevant fields in the form, stating clearly the reasons for your complaint, and the date on which you’re making it.

Once the form has been completed, it should be signed by the establishment, which can also fill in the relevant boxes with comments it considers appropriate. You then retain the green copy for your own records, the business keeps the pink copy to provide to the inspector, and you send the top white copy to the local consumer authorities within one month with any appropriate proofs or documents, especially receipts if the complaint concerns prices, which should be attached to it.

The consumer authority should acknowledge receipt of the hoja de reclamaciones within 15 working days of receipt. It will then notify the establishment of the complaint, and allow them 10 working days to reply. Proceedings will be initiated, if and as appropriate, and you will be notified of its decision.

In addition to this procedure, you can also make a separate complaint direct to a consumer office called an “Oficina Municipal de Información al Consumidor” (OMIC). There is a list HERE of the offices, just click on the relevant municipality. Most councils also have a form that can be completed and sent in. These need to be posted in or delivered because the original is required, so it’s difficult to do this online at present. Adeje’s can be downloaded HERE. (Please note that unlike the hojas, these council forms can currently only be completed in Spanish – if anyone is in real need I’m happy to help translate a text from English into Spanish for the form).

Consumers are protected both by Spanish and EU legislation. EU legislation on Sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees is summarised HERE. The Spanish law that covers consumer protection is the Ley de Defensa de Consumidores y Usuarios – HERE (this law is constantly being updated).

 

49 Comments

  1. Very clear and useful. Thanks!

  2. Thank you very much for being here, problem in Lanzarote, was told there was no consumer protection by shopkeeper, BUT there are as above, so stand your ground and do as Janet suggests, do not be Brow Beaten as I was in Electrical store, my advise would be after my costly experience, Avoid, or be completely sure before you buy, because they will break all the rules.

  3. We bought an aircon machine which is not working- The company keep saying it is working? But it is not ?

    What do we do ?

  4. Author

    You will need to make a complaint at your local consumer office, or demand the complaints book in the shop.

  5. Please can you supply the address for the consumer office for Tenerife South.

  6. Author

    There is more than one. Just click on the link in the last but one paragraph above, and then click on the relevant municipality.

  7. Having trouble with Philips in Granollers. Bought a tv which stopped working after six weeks. Philips want us to drive to Granollers to deliver it for repair. We naturally want a refund or at least for them to collect and repair it. What can we do?

  8. Author

    You need to see your local consumer affairs office in Catalonia.

  9. made a complaint against an estate agent for bad management in which I won and now he has to pay a fine, Unfortunately, he still is acting in an unprofessional manner e.g. he won’t reply to my messages asking if he can prove that he has registered my deposit with the local Xunta in Galicia.
    This is how acted before completely ignoring me and my requests, resulting in a fine.
    Simply want to know, can I do another complaint form against him even though the judgement from the previous one was made only a month ago.

    thanks

  10. Author

    no, you have to return to the Court which issued the fine, as far as I’m aware. Bear in mind that Galicia is an autonomous region of Spain and may have regional laws which differ to those applicable in the Canaries. You should also always seek qualified professional advice from a lawyer in legal matters.

  11. I am in the process of making a complaint to a retailer who sold me a washing machine that has been faulty since purchase and that the engineer has been unable to fix. The engineer has now refused to make any more visits to the house and the retailer refuses to let me complete the Hojas de Reclamaciones, saying that it is Samsung’s problem, not his. I don’t yet have any outcome but your pages have given me the help (and courage!) to have another go. Thank you so much.

  12. Author

    The retailer cannot refuse to let you complete the Hojas de Reclamaciones. Go to your local consumer association and denounce them because it’s an offence to refuse to supply them on demand.

  13. My son was staying at Ponderosa Apart Hotel for 14 days and lost his key to the safe, he’s been charged 100 euro for the replacement, I’ve tried contacting the hotel but the email link doesn’t work, how can I lodge a complaint and take this further?

  14. Author

    I would start with the insurance company because it’s an incident that has resulted in a financial loss. They at least will be able to advise your options from the UK end.

  15. I am no longer in tenerife but will be back in September. I have sent an email complaint to cicar for issues at beginning of month and after 4 weeks and 2 emails sent have still had no reply. Is there any way I can get it further or am I able to fill a complaint in when go in September all backdated with hojas de reclamaciones?

  16. Author

    I don’t know what you could do until you get back, I’m afraid, but see no reason that you couldn’t make a complaint at that point.

  17. Janet having read your page I would like to say thank you however the law you quote in the beginning on all pages i have visited since say it has been repealed. If this is the case what is the state of affairs regarding refunds for faulty goods under 7 days after purchase. I appreciate I can go down the route of Hojas de Reclamacione even if this is going to take time. Also what are the chances of refunds then bearing in mind the business could just ignore any action taken

  18. Author

    Consumer laws are constantly being updated – the most recent update was in 2007 – HERE. It’s the same basic law, though, and apart from any specific legislative measures, consumer protections are in any case governed by the Codigo Civil itself. Any business reported through the hojas cannot just ignore any action: the hojas trigger an investigation, and the investigators have considerable power, including to fine and even close down businesses on both a temporary and, if necessary, a permanent basis.

  19. was a Hotel casa del sol in puerto dela cruz. seen loads of trip madvizor posts re cold hot food but had experienced it ourselves. it was only on our third complaint to reception that we were told of the com[plaints forms. we did fill them in with the help of the receptionist who told us it was a learning thing for him as it was the first ever time the forms had been used. incidentally, there is no notice anywhere in the hotel about the complaints book. the forms were filled in on 30th September2016 and we have had no acknowledgement of our complaint. we were only given the green form but I read that we should have had the white one to send off to the consumer authoroties. do I send the green one or copy of it as I doubt if the hotel would have sent it.?

  20. Author

    Don’t send off the green form, it is your copy. You should have been given the white one to send off yourself, and a sign saying the forms were available should have been prominently visible. I would take your form, and the information, to your local consumer office and ask them to assist.

  21. Thanks for the information. Does this apply for dentalclinics as well?
    Kind regards
    Bente

  22. Author

    The above applies to commercial establishments. It doesn’t apply to medical ones. I don’t know how dentists are defined, but I suspect they’re not “commercial”. You will need to ask your municipal consumer office.

  23. For dentists/dental clinics one can complain directly to the Colegio Oficial de Dentistas de Santa Cruz de Tenerife – Colegio Oficial de Dentistas de Santa Cruz de Tenerife: 922 53 40 30. C/ Imeldo Serís nº 57, 1º- Santa Cruz de Tenerife. They have a standard form, indicating against whom the complaint is directed. You may attach photocopied documents to the claim (reports, budgets, invoices).

    https://www.dentef.es/servicios/padican

  24. Author

    That is great, Francesca, thank you very much!

  25. Does this form apply to purchases made online too

  26. Author

    I don’t believe so because they are forms required to be kept in a physical establishment. I think the first port of call for consumer complaints about online service is an OMIC local to the buyer.

  27. i purchased aTV from Media MARKT 3montha ago and it has stopped working, i have just found out this fault is common with this tv,i phoned media and was told to contact the insurance repaires can i change this set for a different make?,

  28. Author

    No, as far as I’m aware you have to accept the repair at this stage, or take it up with the manufacturer. You could (and should, really) double check this with your local OMIC to be sure that all your rights are covered.

  29. Hi Janet, I recently used xxx to move household items from Tenerife to Uk, they advertise on their site that all items are covered by their insurance with Zurich, and they confirmed this verbally, mainly due to bad handling (throwing boxes on arrival) we have over £350 worth of broken pictures, crockery etc, they said they would check with their insurance but now after chasing them for nearly 3 months they are no longer responding, or answering any queries, we have no further information, as I am not there how can I report them/ or make a claim or complaint, and can I get someone else to help me with it who is there ? I also am. To sure who I would report them to as I’m. It sure what this type of service comes under ? Any info would be very much appreciated. Many thanks, Carolyn

  30. Author

    In your position I would engage a lawyer to contact them and discuss the matter with them and their insurers, or whichever other avenue could be more appropriate. Lawyers here will be able to deal with you by email, at least in the first instance, and take instruction to act on your behalf. (I’ve edited out the name because it’s my policy not to allow businesses to be identified in complaints).

  31. I bought a watch in Playa de las Americas. Stopped 5 days later (now that I’m home).
    Clearly battery was almost flat. Of course, it’s one of those that needs to go to a service centre or warranty voided. Centre in England, I in NI …….
    Have mailed shop twice twice – no reply so far.
    How does complaint book apply to me? Do they have to have an on-line form ???

  32. Author

    If it was Adeje you might have a chance, because as I explain above you can download Adeje’s complaint form (complaint to the council, not at ths shop) though it would still need to be posted in. As far as I’m aware Arona hasn’t made its form available in this way. Otherwise I’m afraid the complaints need to be done in person here. Sadly, so many of these electrical shops are disastrous in this respect that it really is safer not to buy electrical goods of any sort in the tourist areas.

  33. If they are indeed authorized to sell Ferrari merchandise (for that’s what it was; very much bottom of the range I must admit ) I’ll go down the route of naming and shaming them to that organization.

    Even if I end up unsatisfied, they might suffer to some degree ……

  34. Hi i have just bought a second hand car delivered 14 december . The car is not as described and faulty . It was from a dealer nesr alicante . What are my rights to return this car or get a refund . Have contacted the dealer anf was initially offered 1100 euros compensation . This amount was mot acceptable what are my rights if any

  35. Author

    If you bought from a dealer the vehicle should be guaranteed, though this does not mean you have the right just to return it. Certainly it should be covered for repairs. Since you’ve complained and are not happy with the response from the dealer, I’d suggest going to a local council consumer association (OMIC) in the Alicante area and letting them take up the case.

  36. I am in Africa and feel have been cheated by a Spanish Tourism Safari operator (agent) This agent approached me asking me to provide a safari service which I did and they have further sold my services to a Spanish client who has travelled to Africa and consumed my services and then failed to make full payment but promised to pay balance upon returning to Spain, after providing me with fake contact details I accepted to allow him to depart from my facility without paying.

    I have been prejudiced in excess of US$14,000 by both the (agent) Spanish Safari operator and his client who have failed to pay me 3 months after consuming services. The agent now refuses to give me contact details of the consumer for me to follow up and I suspect that he has collected payment from the client and now they refuse to pay me. I have the agents website and contact details, I have the clients passport details and address but not his telephone or email address as he gave me false email address.

    Can you direct me to the correct office to lodge my complaint.

  37. Author

    I’m afraid I can’t. This isn’t just outside the Canaries, it’s outside Spain, indeed outside Europe. I’m sorry but I can’t help.

  38. Does all this apply to the supply of TV? I signed a 12 month contract but now have to cancel after 2 months, I have asked them to waive the termination fee due to the amount of complaints I have lodged re. Poor reception and poor quality TV. They have responded to the complaints with ‘we’ll get back to you’ but I have been unable to watch a whole football match without interruption not to mention other TV. And on occasion have turned off because it has become unwatchable.

  39. Author

    I don’t know, I’m afraid, this is something you’ll need to check with your local OMIC (council consumer rights office).

  40. I had a kitchen fitted in March 2016. 3 of the cabinets have started to warp, and some of the drawers the vinyl is starting to come away. The builder told us at the time the reason he used a certain kitchen company was because they did not have a shop so could supply every thing cheaper than a shop as they do not have any overheads. I have had the kitchen company back and they have advised the reason for the warped cupboards is due to steam, advised we always open the window when cooking and have the fan workingon top of the hob. The buolder is back in the kitchen fitter, and said as we only paid 2500 euros the cupboards what Sid we expect. What do I do. Thank You

  41. Author

    As it says above, go to your local OMIC. There is a link above for you to find your nearest one.

  42. Hi would I need to complete a complaints form first or do I go straight to our local OMIC thank you

  43. Author

    you can go to the OMIC without completing a complaints form, though before going I personally would try to fill out a complaints form first. That way, if the business refuses you the form, or makes some excuse as to why they can’t comply with the law to give you the book there and then, you can add that to your complaint to OMIC.

  44. I am trying to get some info on how to take action against an electronics shop in Tenerife and came across this web site which gives most of the answers.I have established from the office in Adeje that I can lodge a complaint but am unable to download the necessary form. I will ask the Adeje office if they can email one but if they cannot not does anyone know a solution?

  45. Author

    Perhaps your viewing on a tablet? Anyway, I’ve downloaded the form and will email it to the address you used to register on this site.

  46. Bought a washing machine from Worten Adeje April last year and used it for 2 weeks, went back to UK and returned to Tenerife in December, used the machine for a week and it broke down with a fault code showing, called in to Worten to report fault and they telephoned engineer, he came out a couple of days later, couldn’t fix it as he needed parts, he returned 3 days later and replaced the heater and main computer board, charged 22 euros call out (which we had to pay) used the machine for 1 day then went back to UK. returned to Tenerife 2 weeks ago and machine is vibrating and making noises when used, loud enough for the neighbours to complain, reported this to Worten and said we wanted a replacement as in total the machine has only been used for 4 weeks, but they are insisting an engineer comes out again, what can we do?

  47. Author

    At least part of the problem will be that the first time there was a problem was more than six months after purchase. Any machine that shows a fault within six months is usually considered to be faulty at point sale. Some stores will offer refunds, many will offer exchange, others will insist on repair, but within six months you are in a far stronger position. After six months, I believe the onus shifts on the buyer to show the problem predated six months, though of course the machine will be guaranteed (for repairs) up to two years. It might be best if you call into the Adeje OMIC (on the corner above the post office at the bottom of Adeje Calle Grande) where they might be able to help.

  48. We live in torreveija. We recently ordered and paid for a bed, which the shop said would be delivered the next week. When it came the men wanted more money, which we refused as we had paid total in shop, then they said that they would not install the bed over the balcony (as the stairs have two turns and any large items have to be lifTed over the balcony which we have never had a problem with before) as we would not pay the extra the men put the goods back in the van and left.
    We later found out that the lady in the shop had made an error.
    We went to the shop and requested that we wanted one money back, as they would not install the bed, they suggested cutting the Base in half , so it would go up the stairs , then put it back together, which was totally unacceptable. We have had several conversation s, with no joy of gettingredients our money back. What are my rights

  49. Author

    you need to see your local council’s consumer association on the mainland.

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