FACUA Consumers in Action
  • FACUA
  • FACUA
  • FACUA
  • FACUA
  • FACUA

FACUA HEAD OFFICE:
Bécquer, 28 - 41002 Seville (Spain)

Consumer's telephone:
(+34) 954 90 90 90
Email: tudenuncia@facua.org

ADMINISTRATION AND SECRETARY'S OFFICE:
Tel: (+34) 954 902 365 - FAX: (+34) 954 387 852
Email: consumidoresenaccion@facua.org

PRESS OFFICE AND PUBLICATIONS:
Tel: (+34) 954 900 078 - (+34) 954 904 553 - (+34) 616 741 159
Email: comunicacion@facua.org

Who we are

FACUA-Consumers in Action is a non-governmental and non-profit organization. Since its foundation in 1981, it has been dedicated to the defence of consumer rights. FACUA can be considered a progressive, democratic, plural and participatory organization, independent from government, political parties, religious ideologies and business interests.

Our organization of men and women advocates the importance of improvements in market quality, labelling control and regulation, and truthful advertising of products and services.

We are challenging the current consumer society model, which is based on hoarding and flaunting products in an irrational and wasteful manner, exploiting less-developed countries and wasting the planet's natural resources.

With our network of regional delegations and associations and the support provided by several thousand members and volunteers, our organization has a strong presence throughout Spain.

FACUA's governing board and staff is composed of both experienced and young professionals. A number of our more experienced members suffered under the repression of the Franco era, and played an active role in the defence of liberty and democracy throughout the period of dictatorship. Our younger members consider the organization as a way for them to contribute to the improvement and development of our society.

Our origins

The origins of FACUA date back to the years of the transition to democracy, before the oilseed rape toxic syndrome provoked the awakening of a consumer conscience throughout Spain, and the development of hundreds of consumers organizations.

At the end of the 70's, the defence of the citizens as consumers was carried out by neighbourhood movements. Nevertheless, the Spanish Government denied consumers representation by the neighbourhood associations. For that reason, in 1980 the Assembly of Neighbourhood Associations approved the development of a nationwide consumer association, which was called La Defensa (The Defense), as well as the creation of a network of delegations in all the Spanish provinces by means of its provincial federations.

From La Defensa to FACUA

Despite this, the project was only established in a few cities, among them the Andalucian capital Seville. For this reason, the Sevillian delegation of La Defensa, which had been established in the Provincial Federation of Neighbourhood Associations, became an independent organization in 1981 with the name Association of Consumers and Users of Seville-ACUS La Defensa.

Inspired by this development, several consumer associations were established in most of the Andalusian provinces during 1982 and 1983, following the model of the organization already created in Seville, laying the foundations for the development of the Consumers and Users Associations Federation of Andalusia in 1983.

FACUA–Consumers in Action is born

Considered as the most powerful, active and representative consumers federation in Andalusia and one of the most important associations in Spain, FACUA Andalucía decided at its 4th Congress, in March 2003, to further develop its presence and to extend the organization throughout Spain.

For that reason in June 2003 FACUA-Consumers in Action (Consumidores en Acción) was born as a nationwide organization with a confederal structure, as a result of the union of the Andalusian Federation and two pre-existing organizations in Valencia and Castilla y León.

Today FACUA is present throughout Spain due to its numerous organizations and territorial delegations at local, provincial and autonomous levels, as well as due to the Consumers in Action Network (Red de Consumidores en Acción) which comprises a large number of members, volunteers and supporters.

Outstanding dates

1981. October, 9th. ACUS La Defensa, the origins of FACUA, is born in Seville.

1983. April. The first of our Consumer Guides is published, to advice consumers about their rights.

1983. April. Our free legal consulting service for members starts.

1983. May. Ice creams and cakes, issues of our first market control studies.

1983. July, 31st. FACUA is established as a federation in the autonomous region of Andalusia.

1984. September. FACUA starts to publish the magazine Consumerismo.

1996. August. FACUA starts its international cooperation programme with consumer rights associations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

2000. January. FACUA starts a website, FACUA.org.

2003. June, 21st. FACUA-Consumers in Action becomes a nationwide organization.

2004. November, 5th. FACUA joins Consumers International.

2006. October, 9th. FACUA celebrates 25 years of service.

2007. December, 3rd. The new FACUA.org is born, the independent and progressive website about daily consumer affairs and consumer protection.

Financial income

Financing of FACUA's current expenses comes from its individual members' fees and its territorial associations.

FACUA also receives grants from public administrations to develop campaigns for consumer protection. Article 51 of the Spanish Constitution states that the public authorities have a duty to promote consumer organizations.

To guarantee its independence, FACUA does not accept money from companies or political parties.

Main achievements

2007: Mobile phones companies stop rounding up tariffs.

The battle waged by FACUA in November 2003 against the telephone companies due to the rounding up of the tariffs succeeded in March 2007, when all the mobile phones operators started billing per seconds from the first second.

The collection of unconsumed seconds of conversation, in this case the invoicing of the first minute and the rest in fractions of 30 seconds, was an abusive practice contrary to the General Law for the Defence of the Consumers and Users of 1984. But in order to stop these irregularities it was necessary for reports by FACUA to gather strength through media coverage, the support of the Ombudsman, a resolution of the Senate and, finally, the decision of the Government to implement changes in the above-mentioned Law at the end of 2006, in order to specify the "rounding up" prohibition in the invoicing of services.

2006: The Competition Court fines the pact for the flight tickets service fees.

In August 2006 the Competition Court imposed sanctions by a total value of 6.1 million Euros to Iberia, Spanair, Air Europe and the Associative Leadership of Spanish Travel Agencies (Caave) for having fixed the amount of the service fee for flight tickets that air companies and travel agencies charge.

The irregularities in the establishment of the fees had been reported to the Competition Service by FACUA and other consumers associations in May 2004. Iberia was fined 2 million Euros, Spanair 250,000 Euros, Air Europe 300,000 Euros and the associations of travel agencies that integrate Caave 3.59 million Euros.

Main achievements
2006: Telefónica begins to invoice the calls per seconds from land line to mobile phones

The elimination of rounded up fees applied by Telefónica in Spain when charging the whole first minute of calls to mobile phones was the first success of the reporting campaigns, initiated by FACUA in 2003, against the invoicing of unused seconds by land lines and mobile phones.

In December 2005, the Government - who still regulated the tariffs of the company-, announced that Telefónica would begin to invoice per seconds from the first second.

2003: We paralyzed the 90000 credits of the Opening English School case

The sentence of the Court of First Instance number 8 of Seville paralyzed almost 90000 loans that financed the courses of Opening English School and forced the financiers Santander, BBVA Finanzia, Pastor Servicios Financieros and Eurocrédito to return the amounts received from July 2002.

The courses of this academy, which closed in August 2002 and affected thousands of students throughout Spain, were financed by loans attached to education contracts. But the financiers continued charging the students after the closing of the academies. The value of the loans could be up to 135 million Euros.

The judicial action begun by FACUA and other consumers associations is still in progress

2003: Users affected by defects in Peugeot 307 recover their money

FACUA has succeeded in ensuring that Peugeot refunds the money paid for its model 307 to many users who had detected manufacture defects. The association had already received more than 2000 reports from all the Spanish provinces.

Many of the problems with the 307 model were concerning failures in the electrical equipment, causing blackouts which left drivers without external or internal illumination, or the paralyzation of the windshield wipers, among other issues. Also, there were many cases of vibrations which become stronger when exceeding 110 kilometers per hour. FACUA has also been made aware of several cases in which motors stopped during driving, airbags which did not work properly or deployed without reason, several cars catching fire, quality defects in numerous components and strange noises.

Main achievements
2002: Indemnifications for the collapse of Muebles Peralta building

FACUA obtains remunerations of more than 800,000 Euros for thirty one members of the association, victims of the tragedy that took place in February 2000 in the Muebles Peralta building in Dos Hermanas, Seville. The first floor of the building, which was badly maintained and was in poor condition, collapsed due to the excessive number of people which had been attracted by deceptive bargain sales.

2002: Fraudulent changes of telephone companies

FACUA receives more than 160 complaints against Retevisión (purchased later by Auna and today part of Ono) from users who had been registered in the number pre assignment service by the company without consent; therefore all their calls were invoiced without dialing the direct access prefix.

The company refunded the amounts charged to FACUA members, who reregistered with their former operator. This case represents FACUA uncovering one of the most serious irregularities affecting thousands of users in Spain for many years.

1996: Clinics with a thousand faces, uncovered

FACUA reveals that a Portuguese company, which was established in Brazil and five European countries and which owned several weight loss centers since the 1980s, had been accused by Spanish clients of fraud, had subsequently closed in order to reopen under a new name.

These clinics deceived consumers through miraculous techniques to lose "up to 11 kilos in 23 days", "without hunger" and "effortlessly".

Main achievements
1995: Advertisements under control

FACUA intensifies their activity of advertising control with the creation of their Department of Advertising Analysis and Control.

Since then, the association has uncovered numerous irregular advertising practices and has achieved the withdrawal, modification and/or sanctioning of several campaigns carried out by companies such as Altadis, Amena, Aprilia, Auna, Bacardi-Martini, Casa Tarradellas Tarradellas, Cruzcampo, Dolce & Gabbana, El Corte Inglés, Fiat, Font Vella, González Byass, Iberia, Jazztel, Larios, Merck, Movistar, Páginas Amarillas, Terra, Usisa, Vodafone, Wanadoo and Warner Lambert.

1985: Illegal collection of water tariffs

We reported several city councils in Andalusia for the illegal collection of water tariffs, due to the fact that connecting rights and tariffs which had not been legally approved by the Regional Prices Commission were not properly invoiced. The city councils were sanctioned and forced to give back the irregularly invoiced amounts to users. Our demands tot he water sector contributed to the approval of an unprecedented rule in Spain regulating water supply, and the regulation of water supply in Andalusia.

1985: Irregular collection of tariffs by Sevillana de Electricidad

The first of the most important demands of FACUA was an intense campaign of complaints against Sevillana de Electricidad (today Sevillana Endesa) which took place in 1981, claiming that this company had irregularly invoiced hundreds of thousands of pesetas since 1965. Four years later, the Andalusian Parliament simultaneously opened an investigation which culminated with the return of several hundreds of thousands of pesetas to the users of Sevillana, which was sanctioned by the Autonomous Government of Andalusia.

The signature of a collaboration agreement with Sevillana in 1986 the beginning of a new stage, a step forward towards dialogue. At present, FACUA maintains more than eighty agreements with business organizations.

1984: Gas supply with no control

FACUA detected, as a result of several neighbours' complaints, that Catalana de Gas (today Gas Natural) was putting the users at risk when failing to fulfill the obligation of inspecting their installations every four years. In light of the situation, the Andalusian Parliament began disciplinary proceedings and sanctioned this company. In addition, the Autonomous Government of Andalusia forced the company to review the deteriorated installations of its clients.


These are some examples of the achievements FACUA has accomplished throughout its history, in addition to thousands of claims successfully processed in defence of its members, as well as having contributed to improving legal rules to protect consumers' rights and signed agreements with numerous companies to facilitate the solution of numerous conflicts through dialogue and cooperation.

Ethical principles

FACUA and its organizations consider, from a responsible perspective, the necessity of establishing a set of ethical principles in its performance and activities, with the purpose of ensuring its democratic and independent nature, as opposed to the economic interests of the market and the political interests of the governments and political parties.

FACUA has decided to adopt the following declaration of principles, composed by ten points which are compulsory for all the consumers associations that wish to belong to its confederal organization.

1

All the consumers organizations that belong to FACUA will participate in its activities and will support its performance in defence of a fair and equitable society.

2

The internal performance and decision making will lead to a democratic, plural and participatory line of action, and will be subjected to the norms regulating the right to association and the legal regulations in force.

3

All the associations will be independent from any public institution and organism, political parties, business sectors, unions and other social and economic agents, in their performances in defence of the rights of consumers and users. This independence does not imply a rejection of the Association's capacity for dialogue and understanding with these agents, which must represent an important aspect of Association's consumerist performance.

4. They will encourage citizens to belong to their organization as a way to promote the consumers organization and to finance their own expenses in order to become independent in their performance in defence of consumers and users rights. They will be financed through member fees and public subsidies, as well as through those services provided to consumers and users.

5

They will promote agreements with the business sector in order to resolve conflicts and improve the market to benefit consumers and users, without receiving economic compensation from companies or business groups.

6

Equality is a fundamental principle in the conception, objectives and performance of the Association; therefore there will be no discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, beliefs or religion, xenophobia, race or ethnicity.

7

Activities will be based on the defence of the consumers' and users' rights, ensuring the establishment of a local office where questions and claims of market abuses or illegal practices will be resolved and reported publicly.

8

They will develop guidelines for responsible and sustainable consumption in training consumers so that they become aware of their rights, respect the environment and are critical of the companies that commit fraudulent practices.

9

They will request their recognition as economic and social agents to the public administrations in order to obtain a higher degree of legitimacy in their market interventions, and will defend their right to be heard in all the matters that affect consumers and users, through hearing procedures and institutional participation.

10

They will support FACUA in international cooperation matters and will denounce the abuses and frauds committed by Spanish companies, as well as those of companies originating from within the European Union, which are operating in other countries with lower levels of consumers and users protection. They will also promote the protection of immigrants' rights to ensure the fulfilment of these rights and their integration in society.

Contact us

FACUA HEAD OFFICE

Bécquer, 28 - 41002 Seville (Spain)

CONSUMERS SERVICE

Consumer's telephone
(+34) 954 90 90 90

Email
tudenuncia@facua.org

ADMINISTRATION AND SECRETARY'S OFFICE

Telephone:
(+34) 954 902 365

Fax:
(+34) 954 387 852

Email
consumidoresenaccion@facua.org

PRESS OFFICE AND PUBLICATIONS

Telephones:
(+34) 954 900 078 - (+34) 954 904 553 - (+34) 616 741 159

Email
comunicacion@facua.org

IN THE WEB

www.facua.org

In English: english.facua.org