It is mandatory since 23 of December

Six IAG airlines, reported by FACUA for not offering free toll telephone numbers to consumers

Iberia and Level only have a special rate number 901, British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling and Air Europa offer regular numbers, even though it is mandatory to offer a toll free numbers.

Six IAG airlines, reported by FACUA for not offering free toll telephone numbers to consumers

FACUA-Consumers in Action has reported the six IAG airlines –Iberia, British Airways, Aer Lingus, Vueling, Level and Air Europa- for refusing to replace their special rate costumer service for some toll free number, even though it is mandatory since December.

As a result of the claims raised by FACUA to Alberto Garzón, Minister of Consumer Affairs, at the beginning of his term in office, the Government approved last month a change in the legislation that will mean the end of the extremely expensive special rate numbers 902 and 901 for customer service. Since 23 of December, companies that provide basic services of general interest -such as transport companies- must offer toll free numbers. The rest must offer regular mobile or landline numbers with a geographical prefix.

However, Iberia still offers the phone number 901 111 500, Level the number 901 810 600 and Vueling, number 902 808 005. British Airways, Aer Lingus and Air Europa offer a regular landline number with a geographical prefix, which are not for free.

Vueling was the first company denounced by FACUA in 2021 for failing to replace its 902 line with a free one following the legal change approved by the Government. Following the complaint, the company displays a telephone number with a geographic prefix next to the 902 number. In doing so, it is still in breach of the law, as carriers are obliged to provide a free line.

FACUA has also reported Air Europa, which has just been bought by Iberia. The airline continues to maintain a telephone number with a geographic prefix for its customer service.

To the Consumer Protection Ministry and to the 17 regional Governments

The association has reported the six airlines to the Directorate General for Consumer Protection of the Ministry of Consumer Protection and the consumer protection authorities of the 17 autonomous communities. All the regional consumer administrations have the power to impose financial penalties on the airlines for the irregularity reported. This is an infringement for "non-compliance with obligations in relation to customer services", as established in article 49.1 of Royal Legislative Decree 1/2007, of 16 November, which approves the revised text of the General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users and other complementary laws.

Under its new formulation, Article 21(2) of the aforementioned Royal Legislative Decree states that "in the case of basic services of general interest, the companies providing such services must, in any case, have a free consumer helpline". "For these purposes", the regulation continues, "the supply of water, gas, electricity, financial and insurance services, postal services, air, rail and road transport, health protection, sanitation and waste, as well as those that are legally determined, shall be considered basic services of general interest".

More reports

FACUA is in the process of preparing more reports against companies that are failing to comply with the obligations set out in the legislation regarding the numbering of their customer helplines. Numerous consumers are contacting the association to alert it of such irregularities.

Consumers who are forced to call 902 and 901 lines will be able to claim back the amounts they have to pay to their telecommunications companies. Also those who are charged for calling both mobile phones and landlines with national or international prefixes in cases where it is compulsory to provide free lines.