premium rate

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Despite CJEU case law and the recommendations of consumer protection agencies, many companies still use premium rate numbers such as the 901 and 902 prefixes, which, due to their high cost, often discourage consumers and users from contacting their customer service departments.

To protect consumers and users from excessive charges when calling customer service numbers, Royal Decree Law 37/2020 — in effect since December 22 — amends sections 21.2 and 49 of the General Act for the Defense of Consumers and Users (the “Act”, LGDCU).

Section 21.2 of the Act contains one of the most important measures, establishing that companies cannot use numbers for their customer service department that incur a higher cost than a call to a standard geographic fixed line or cell phone for consumers and users. However, it should be highlighted that the rule does not prohibit this type of premium lines altogether, as they are permitted if companies provide the consumer with information regarding an alternative geographic or cell number with equal visibility and accessibility.

Furthermore, the Royal Decree Law adopts another protection measure in view of companies that provide “basic general-interest services.” These companies must provide users with a free consumer care line. The following are considered basic general-interest services: (i) water, gas and electricity supply; (ii) financial services and insurance; (iii) postal services; (iv) air, rail and road transport; (v) health services; (vi) sanitation and waste services; and (vii) those established by law.

Moreover, to guarantee companies’ compliance with these obligations, the Royal Decree Law adds a new subsection to section 49.1, regulating a new breach of the obligations on customer service departments included in the Act. Ultimately, although premium rate numbers such as 901 and 902 will continue to exist, their use will be restricted and voluntary for the consumer, as they will have alternative methods to contact customer service departments without having to incur high and disproportionate costs.

Authors: Carolina Urbano and Ane Alonso

This post is also available in: Español



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