There is a new consumer law in Spain. Finally. But think about it; laws are reactive ?first there is the incident, then the law to prevent the future ones.
First the incidents. What is the problem?
Iíll tell you from my own example. My previous neighbor -- an old lady -- wanted to terminate her contract with a telephone provider. She decided to go back to her previous service provider (and trust me, she had her reasons. She send the company a fax as required to terminate the contract, but later when she inquired she learned that "the fax was never received." Probably lost somewhere on the same cable, I joked then. The company continued to charge her afterwards, until she finally by intermediate support of the consumers?organization got her money back.
Ok, this is not my own example. That 's up next.
In fact I moved from one place to another and -- it was not possible to continue the service (we are talking about the same service provider) and I had to terminate the service (again by sending a fax) and request for a new service at my new home.
I send a fax to terminate the contract -- as requested -- and as my previous neighbor I went back to the main phone provider.
That was in October. Now in January Iím still paying for a service I do not longer receive.
ďConsumer and Sanitation Minister Elena Salgado told the Congress of Deputies that the service sector and especially telephone companies are the target of the new law. ? (http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200612/22/eng20061222_334989.html)
This new lay is to protect consumer for paying a service they do not receive (another simple example is to charge parking per minute and not per hour). The new lay is especially for this kind of practices. Issue number one is contract terminations. The companies -- of course not all and not always ?ďloose?the faxes somewhere in their organization and the contract continues as are the automatic withdrawls. And we all know how much effort it takes to get your money back. Not everybody protests. It is like insurance; many pay and only a few recollect when there is an incident...
Recently I had sent the company a fax again and every next day I call them to check whether it has been received.
I remember that I received faxes online at my desk of the office before the turn of the century (letís say 1999). But such an fax-online investment is not beneficial for this company. And yet this -?service orientation -- is one of the biggest challenges for the near future.
Many Companies in Spain are still product oriented. There is not much of a service mentality yet. The new law ďalso imposes minimum standards of customer service.?(same source) And this will become more and more an issue with demanding consumers.
At the same time there are companies that excel in the service approach, but they are hard to find.
Consumers are more and more in the drivers?seat and if your company is no longer able to catch up with them you will loose them. And it starts with a simple service to close a contract.
And so the new law is not only protecting consumers, but protecting companies too. In the end customer service is a win-win game.
?2007 Hans Bool
Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools
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