Councillor Amada Trujillo Bencomo (centre) and the two office members who deal with consumer complaints. Photo: Adeje Ayuntamiento.
Every now and again I get a message, or a comment on this site, from someone expressing anger at a consumer outrage, whether ridiculous mobile phone contracts or fake goods from electrical stores. I keep referring them to THIS page on consumer rights, but also stress that apart from each business needing a complaints book, each municipality has or is part of an OMIC – Oficina Municipal de Información al Consumidor – a consumer rights office. These are run at local level, and I suspect many people think it’s just not worth bothering.
Well it is. And now Adeje OMIC has published figures which show that it has dealt with over 20,000 complaints during its twenty five years in existence, the announcement being made today because apparently it’s World Consumer rights Day. Adeje councillor Amada Trujillo Bencomo said that the council has “overseen a number of campaigns in the 25 years of the office’s existence and we have offset many more having helped create responsible and well informed consumers”. Among the main objectives of the Adeje consumers office is educating consumers as to their rights and helping them shop sensibly. The basic advice to consumers includes reading all the small print before buying, consulting all of the conditions when purchasing or engaging services, and comparing product prices and services across the market.
Last year, the office registered 1,046 complaints/petitions, a slight drop from 1,127 in 2014. The most frequent complaints deal with mobile phones (29%), landlines (9.85%), banks (4.78%), garages (3.8%), electro-domestic traders (5.83%), airlines (4%), and basic services (4.4%). According to the councillor “recently we find we are also being asked to help people who find themselves on a debtor’s list and need to know what their rights are as there is a lack of information about this at present.”
As well as offering consumers information and helping them deal directly with specific cases, Adeje OMIC is working to educate and train, collaborate with other public and private bodies dedicated to the protection of consumer rights, appeal complaints to the consumer rights courts if an agreement cannot be reached locally, and in general work to protect citizens of the borough. More specifically, it’s vital to see how effective this service already is. Almost half of the cases taken by the office have been concluded positively for the consumer, with the office managing to reclaim over €140,000 and to help others avoid unnecessary payments.
So ask for the complaints book in any business where you feel your consumer rights have been infringed, and if you are not satisfied, head for your local OMIC. It really is worth it!