Consumer Complaint Forms - Hojas de Reclamaciones in English
Posted by algrif
This article is about what are, and how to use, the official consumer complaint forms, known as Hojas de Reclamaciones, which allow any consumer who has a complaint against a Spanish restaurant, bar, shop, service provider, and many other businesses, to enter the complaint officially and easily.
Have you ever wondered about that sign you see in nearly every Spanish business premises? That one that says “Existen hojas de reclamaciones a disposición del consumidor o usuario”? Well, this is the official doorway to enter a complaint if someone tries to pull a fast one on you, or simply does not do or give you what you believe you have paid for. Roughly translated it means “Here there are available complaints forms for the consumer or user.”
Strangely enough, the information I have looked through indicates that the Spanish do not use these official complaints forms nearly often enough. They are somewhat English in their reluctance to do any more than say what they think and never go back to that shop again. The Spanish authorities actively encourage consumers to use the official complaints procedure.
Imagine for one moment that you think that a product you have just bought from a shop at a special offer price does not match up to the publicity given. You try to get a refund, but they refuse because it was a special offer. You argue this way, they argue that way, You say “potayto”, they say “potarto”, and you end up getting nowhere. Ask for the “Hojas de Reclamaciones”.
It isn’t a magic wand, but very often it works like one and you get what you believe is right. Why is that? It’s because it means extra work for the shop manager, and it is a blot on their official records! If they get a number of similar blots, then the Consumer office starts to nose around the business, which is always bad news for them.
My wife uses this threat quite early on in the argument. Her favourite is when there is some publicity in the local rag stating that there is a special offer on some item that she wants to buy cheap. On arrival, they politely tell her they have sold out of that item. First question: “How many did you have in stock at the start of the campaign?” Answer, whatever it is, has the riposte, “Well it wasn’t enough to place it in the newspaper. That is misrepresentation. I insist you get me one from another branch, or head office, or wherever”. If they refuse, or say they can’t? “Traigan me las Hoja de Reclamaciones, ¡ya!” This simple threat makes them think twice and start a telephone search to locate the article in question and have it brought here asap.
If they still refuse to see things your way, then it is a recourse which provides official arbitration to sort things out one way or the other, at no cost to yourself.