Airlines, travel agencies and telecoms, sectors with most complaints in FACUA during the lockdown

The association has initiated almost 3,700 complaints on behalf of its affiliates from 14 March to 21 June. They have increased by 46.1% compared to the same period in 2019.

Airlines, travel agencies and telecoms, sectors with most complaints in FACUA during the lockdown

Airlines, travel agencies and telecommunications companies were the sectors that FACUA-Consumers in Action received the most complaints during Spain's lockdown.

Between 14 March and 21 June, FACUA and its regional organisations opened 3,678 complaint files on behalf of its affiliates, 46.1% more than those processed during the same period in 2019 (2,517).

Almost five times more enquiries than in 2019

During Spain's lockdown, FACUA has received 50,154 consumer enquiries through its website, its national information telephone number 954 90 90 90 and those of its seventeen regional organisations, which is almost five times more than the number of enquiries processed during the same period in 2019 (10,853).

This is despite the fact that the attention has been exclusively by telephone and through the internet, as all its offices have been closed since the state of alarm and lockdown began. FACUA reinforced its telephone lines during this period, during which its 123 workers are working from home.

Airlines, the big players

As far as complaints are concerned, the transport sector has topped the ranking, with no less than 30.2% of the total and airlines as almost absolute protagonists for their refusal to refund money to passengers who have not been able to fly.

In second place is the leisure and holiday services sector, with 22.7%. Within this sector, the numerous complaints against travel agencies, hotels and companies organising shows that were cancelled for refusing to refund money to users stand out.

Third place in the complaint ranking is taken by telecommunications companies, with 9.0% of the total. In addition to the usual complaints about the registration of services that do not correspond to what was offered and problems with cancellation, there have been numerous cases of tariff increases in fibre internet services and integrated bundled services, in violation of the prohibition approved by the Government during the state of alarm.

This was followed by banking and financial institutions (8.2%) and the insurance sector (8.0%). In the first case, in addition to the cases opened for irregularities in mortgages (especially the IRPH, a fraudulent mortgage rate) and unfair fees, claims have begun to be added due to the refusal of the lending institutions to grant the moratorium on the payment of credits and loans to users who meet the requirements established by the Administration.

Regarding insurance companies, complaints have been lodged mainly due to the refusal of companies to settle residential claims and to apply reductions in the case of vehicle insurance due to the decrease in the risk of claims that has occurred during the lockdown.

More than 8,000 users have joined the affected consumers' online platform

FACUA launched a consumer support platform for those affected by problems related to the situation generated by Covid-19. To date, almost 8,300 consumers have joined, many of whom have become full affiliates of the organisation to take action in their defence. Users can join through the website FACUA.org/Covid-19 (in Spanish), which offers advice on a wide range of issues related to the state of alarm. Almost 9,200 others have joined another online platform launched by the association to call on car insurers to apply reductions in the risk of claims, through the website FACUA.org/quieromidinero (in Spanish).

FACUA has also provided two simulators to make it easier for consumers to check whether they meet the economic vulnerability criteria for accessing the moratorium on mortgage payments (FACUA.org/hipotecascovid) and the financial assistance, reductions and moratoriums on housing rentals (FACUA.org/alquilerescovid), both in Spanish.

During this period, FACUA has submitted a long list of demands to the Government to introduce regulatory initiatives to protect consumers' rights. Some of these measures have already been approved by the Government, such as the prohibition on cutting off electricity, water, gas and telecommunications services to families and the prohibition on raising tariffs for fibre internet and bundled services, where switching services cannot be carried out. The extension of the moratorium on mortgage payments to credit and other loans was also a consequence of the association's demands.