Spain to push law to ensure 24-hour customer helpline for banking, utilities

24-hour customer helpline

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Spain has tabled a draft law to force banks and utility companies to offer a free 24-hour customer helpline open 365 days of the year. The service phone lines will be staffed with trained workers able to assist the elderly and disabled, rather than the automated messages that are common currently.

The new proposal looks to ban banks and utility companies from charging their customers to get in touch with them via phone, as well as forcing the use of staff instead of answering machines. The idea is being pushed forward by Spain’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calvino, and the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzon.

The two ministers have started to work together to put customer service at the forefront of any future improvements to essential services in Spain. Bank branches have been closing in the hundreds across Spain in the last few years and these closures have highlighted the need for more personal and flexible service in the sector.

Along with banking, the other essential services targeted by the new draft law are electricity and water companies, postal services, and internet and streaming platforms. It has been 20 years since the law was last updated, and the new version looks for a push to a 24-hour customer helpline that is free, personal and always available.

A particular concern for the Spanish government is the level of service for people in rural areas, the elderly and people with certain disabilities. These demographics are the most at risk from exclusion or discrimination when it comes to customer service.

The Spanish Cabinet may approve the law by the end of 2021, meaning it can be written into law by parliament in early 2022.

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Written by

Claire Gordon