General Law for the Protection of Consumers and Users in Spain

The General Law for the Protection of Consumers and Users in Spain (Law 3/2014 from March 27) introduces modifications for contracts with consumers that become effective on June 13, 2014. The most significant aspects of the reform include the following concepts:

  • The notion of consumer extends to entities without legal status when they act in an area outside the framework of a commercial activity and for non-profit purposes
  • The notion of employer is different from any natural or legal person, public or private, that acts directly or via another person acting on his or her behalf or following instructions with a purpose related to business, commercial activity, or profession
  • The Law modifies the definition of business establishments contained in the Law on retail commerce. The definition refers to any immovable retail premises where the employer carries out its activity permanently or any movable retail premises where the employer usually carries out its activity. The spaces accessible to the public such as the streets, shopping centres, beaches, sports facilities, and public transportation that the employer uses for its commercial activity as well as private homes or workplaces are not business establishments
  • The time to exercise the Right of Withdrawal (the right to return a product) extends to 14 calendar days instead of seven working days previously for face-to-face sales as well as online sales. In case the employer has not given information to the consumer about the Right of Withdrawal, the ability to exercise the Right extends to 12 months. However, if the employer has not complied with the Duty of Information and Documentation concerning the Right of Withdrawal, the time to exercise the Right of Withdrawal will end at 12 months instead of three months previously
  • The telephone lines that the employer provides the consumer cannot exceed the basic fare
  • Companies must not use customer service to sell products or services for a commercial purpose
  • If a consumer receives a telephone call to enter a distance contract, the caller must identify himself or herself at the beginning of the conversation, specify for whom the caller is calling, and indicate the business purpose of the call. In addition, the caller must give information about the minimum contract terms
  • Companies must not make commercial calls from 9pm to 9am or during holidays or weekends
  • Commercial websites must specify clearly and visibly, and from the beginning of the purchase, which payment arrangements are acceptable and whether any restrictions exist
  • Consumers and users must receive information about the deposits or other financial guarantees that they have to pay
  • Those that sell a good or provide a distance service must clearly communicate the existence of the legal guarantee of the goods
  • In supply contracts providing digital content, companies must communicate their functionality
  • The consumer or user receiving commercial information by phone, fax, e-mail or by other means can oppose receiving it; the employer will have to send, in a maximum period of one month, a certificate proving the opposition
  • The consumer has the right to receive paper invoices. The electronic invoice will issue if the employer previously obtained the consent of the consumer, and the consumer will be able to revoke it afterwards
  • The issue of the paper invoice cannot increase the cost for the consumer
  • The employer cannot impose on the consumer additional fees above the costs of the service by use of certain methods of payment
  • Concerning the agreed time for delivery (for both face-to-face and online sales), unless agreed otherwise, the employer will deliver the goods to the consumer in a maximum period of 30 calendar days from the conclusion of the contract. In the event of the employer’s non-compliance, the consumer may give the employer additional time regarding the circumstances. If the employer does not deliver the goods during the time granted, the consumer will have the right to terminate the contract and, in such a case, the employer will have to reimburse the consumer without further delay for all the amounts that the consumer paid. If the employer does not make the payment, the consumer will have the right to claim double the amount due without any prejudice to his or her right to compensation for the damage suffered that exceeded the said amount
  • For contracts in which the employer sends the goods to the consumer, the risk of loss or deterioration of the goods will transfer to the consumer when he, she, or a selected third party, other than the carrier (unless the carrier was designated by the consumer), has acquired the material possession of the good
  • In case the user does not comply with the commitment he or she made with the company, the penalty for decreasing or premature termination of the contractual relationship will be proportional to the number of non-effective days of the minimum stay granted
  • In these contracts with consumers and users in which terms that have not been individually negotiated are used (for instance the general terms and conditions), for those to be intelligible, they must have a size of at least one millimetre and a half and a contrast with the background that does not make it difficult to read
  • The Public Prosecutor is able to represent consumers in collective claims concerning unfair terms in contracts that the companies make (i.e. banks or supply companies for gas, electricity, telephone, etc).
  • The Law 28/2005 from December 26 partially regulates and modifies use of the electronic cigarette. This Law focuses on health measures against tobacco addiction and the regulation of the sale, supply, consumption, and publicity of tobacco products

For more information on consumer protection laws in Spain,

Please note that this article is not intended to provide legal advice.

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