Annual Complaints Overview 2020

Airlines and tourism and leisure companies accounted for 28% of FACUA's complaints

The association received 106,097 queries and complaints last year, a record number due to irregularities committed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Airlines and tourism and leisure companies accounted for 28% of FACUA's complaints

FACUA-Consumers in Action received 106,097 queries and complaints in 2020, a record number due to irregularities committed during the pandemic. The refusal to refund the cost of services that users have not been able to enjoy because of the SARS-COV-2 pandemic led to almost a third of the complaints, 27.8%, being made against airlines and companies in the tourism and leisure sectors.

The passivity of the corresponding administrations, which have chosen to ignore the situation and not to issue severe sanctions, has allowed many companies to avoid the legal obligation to refund the amounts paid for cancelled services or services to which consumers did not have access due to confinement, perimeter closures, quarantine or contagion. In recent months, many users who have reported these irregularities through the association have received their money back. On Friday, this was highlighted at a press conference by Rubén Sánchez, the secretary general of FACUA, who presented the annual Overview What do consumers report?

Last year, FACUA's legal teams opened 12,606 complaint files on behalf of its affiliates, 35.5% more than the previous year. In terms of queries raised by consumers at the offices of FACUA's regional organisations, by telephone and on the website, the figure reached 93,491, 137.3% more than in 2019.

FACUA already has more than 245,000 affiliates, making it one of the leading consumer associations in the European Union. It has regional organisations and representatives in Spain's seventeen autonomous communities (regions).

The most complained-about sectors

Healthcare topped the ranking due to the avalanche of complaints against Dentix dental clinics, which filed for insolvency, leaving tens of thousands of patients stranded. Complaints against private health insurers also increased, especially due to the refusal to cover services included in the policies and problems of overcrowding in their clinics, which also led to a good number of complaints in the public health sector. The sector accounted for 17.4% of complaints.

In second place was the transport sector, which accounted for 15.3% of complaints, the vast majority against airlines for not refunding the cost of cancelled flights or flights that travellers were unable to take because of the pandemic.

The Dentix clousure case and the problems linked to the pandemic have displaced the telecommunications sector, which usually occupies first place in FACUA's ranking of complaints, to third place. They accounted for 13.6% of the total due to misleading offers, fraudulent tariff increases, breaches of contract and unfair practices by telecoms companies when users try to unsubscribe. During the period in which portability was not allowed to prevent telecoms' technicians from coming to users' homes, the government also prohibited tariff increases, but many consumers have reported breaches by the companies.

In fourth place, with 12.5%, were complaints against companies offering tourism and leisure services: travel agencies, hotels, tourist accommodation platforms, companies organising events (concerts, festivals, cinemas, theatres...) and hospitality services. As in the case of airlines, almost all complaints against companies in the leisure sector were motivated by the refusal to refund the amount of the purchased services in cases where they were cancelled or customers were unable to enjoy them due to the measures adopted by the administrations in the framework of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The banking and financial services sector was the fifth most reported by FACUA consumers, with 11.7%. Complaints about base lending rate, mortgage arrangement fees, other unfair terms in loans and the irregular charging of fees also accounted for the majority of the cases opened last year by the association's legal teams and its regional organisations against the financial sector.