The Facua consumer association has denounced 48 electricity and gas marketers for not offer free customer service lines. The organization has detected irregularities on the websites of four out of 10 companies analyzed. The law obliges basic service companies of general interest to provide telephones free of charge. The complaints have been presented to the general direction of the Ministry of Consumption, the National Commission of Markets and Competition and the autonomous consumer protection authorities.
The association has tracked the web pages of 111 electricity and gas trading companies to assess whether they comply with the obligation to provide free telephones and if they do so in all the sections where they advertise their numbering for the attention of both clients and non-clients. Based on the information that the marketers provide on their websites, a quarter (26 of those analyzed) do not offer any free line for customer service, making use of other telephones that involve a disbursement for the user. These are Acciona, Aurora Energía, Comercialitzadora Eléctrica de Montoliu, DKR Energía, DKR Energy, EDA, Electra Centelles Comercial, Electra Cuntiense, Electra Norte, Eléctrica Catralense, Eléctrica Vaquer, Operative Energy, Energy Nordic, Enerplus, Evergree, Goday Energía, Ignis, Inserimos Energía, Insignia Energía, Petronavarra, Siesta Energy, Supra, Tersa, Torres Energía, Zeltria Energía and Zona Energía. Of all of them, one (Operational energy) offers a high cost number. The rest combine geographic numbers with mobiles.
As for the remaining companies, 14 of them present free numbers on their web pages but restrict them to the development of certain specific procedures, thus breaching the duty to provide a free line that guarantees the attention of users in a broad sense. The rest of the numbers they offer are geographical. They are Alterna Energía, Arsus Energía, Bassols, Cepsa, Coopelec, Electra Avellana, Enred Energía, Enstroga, Futura Energía y Gas, GBP Energía, Iberellectica, Potenzia, Vitogas and 24-7 Energy.
Another eight companies in the sector present free telephone numbers, but they incorporate information on their websites, such as static banners announcing geographic prefix lines, aimed at generating confusion in order to contact them through numbering with cost, for which they have also been reported. They are the companies Carvisa Energía, Catgas Energía, Eléctrica Serosense, Energías de Panticosa, Forza Villalta Green Energy, Respira Energía, Ronda Oeste Energía and Syder Comercializadora Verde.
Since December 2020, article 21 of Royal Legislative Decree 1/2007, of November 16, which approves the revised text of the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users and other complementary laws, states that “in In the cases of services of a basic nature of general interest, the companies that provide them must, in any case, have a toll-free customer service telephone line. For these purposes, those of supply of water, gas, electricity, financial and insurance, postal, air, rail and road transport, health protection, sanitation and waste, as well as those that are legally determined “. Likewise, there is a specific regulation for the electricity sector (Law 24/2013, of December 26, of the Electricity Sector) that establishes in its article 46 that “for the supply to final consumers they must have a service to attend to their complaints, claims and incidents in relation to the service contracted or offered, as well as requests for information on aspects related to contracting and supply or communications, making available a postal address, a telephone service and a telephone number, both free ” .
Similarly, Law 34/1998, of October 7, specific to the hydrocarbons sector, has also been taken into account, which requires in its article 2 to “have a service to attend to your complaints, claims, requests for information or communications of any incident in relation to the contracted or offered service, making available a postal address, a telephone service and a telephone number, both free “.
Facua tells consumers that they are forced to call their electricity or gas company through numbering with cost that they can claim the payment of those amounts. In the case of other companies that are not basic services of general interest, the law establishes that they must provide a number that does not involve a cost higher than that of a geographical or mobile call, so if they are forced to call a rate (902 and 901), they are also entitled to reimbursement of this cost.
This is the seventh study published this year by FACUA on the mandatory compliance by basic services companies of general interest to have a free consumer service phone number. In the first study, the association found that 7 out of 10 airlines broke the law. In the second, that 6 out of 10 water providers did not comply with the aforementioned regulations. Also, he was able to verify that half of the large courier companies analyzed did not offer free telephones and that 9 out of 10 insurers did not either, the same percentage as financial entities without a bank card. Regarding banks, 13 of the 29 analyzed have been denounced.