Spain changes law on call centres which can result in huge fines

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WHEN you contact the bank or the power company, are you tired of talking to a machine?

Spain's government wants to put an end to those nerve-wracking, one-sided talks with a computerised answering service by requiring firms to provide a live, human customer care representative when a caller requested one.

This is one of several reforms contained in the law on customer service introduced by Spain's left-wing coalition government on Tuesday. Before becoming legislation, the measure must be approved by the Spanish Parliament. 

"Customer service is an important part of our relationships with customers," said Consumption Minister Alberto Garzón. "Unfortunately, far too many companies develop bureaucratic labyrinths to prevent you from expressing your views to service," he said.

"These are issues that, unfortunately, waste a lot of energy, time, and money."

The law also aims to eliminate long hold times by requiring businesses to respond to calls within 3 minutes.

Basic service providers, such as utilities, phone, and Internet, will be required to provide customer service 24 hours per day, 365 days a year. All other businesses will be required to provide customer service during regular business hours. Within fifteen days, all complaints from customers must be addressed.

The legislation will apply to all utility providers, regardless of size, as well as any other businesses with more than 250 employees or yearly revenue of more than 50 million euros.

Breaking the rule will result in fines ranging from 150 euros to 100,000 euros.

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