Spain to force banks to offer free 24-hour customer service with trained staff

Spain to force banks to offer free 24-hour customer service with trained staff
File photo: PIERRE VERDY / AFP
Spanish banks and utility companies will have to offer a 24-hour free customer service phone line 365 days of the year with staff trained to help the elderly and disabled rather than an automated messaging service, a new draft law proposes.  

No more talking to a machine when trying to contact your bank in Spain and no more having to wait for regular 9am to 6pm working hours to phone up. 

A new draft law could ban Spanish banks and utilities companies from charging customers who phone up, as well as forcing them to employ trained staff rather than use answering machines.

That’s the proposal of Spain’s Minister of Economic Affairs Nadia Calviño and the country’s Minister of Consumer Affairs Alberto Garzón, who have joined forces to put customer service at the forefront of improvements to essential services in Spain. 

It’s been more than 20 years since this law was last updated and the closure of hundreds of bank branches across the country in the past years has put the spotlight on how Spanish banking is becoming more impersonal and inflexible. 

The new draft also proposes that customer service should be free, personal and always available for electricity and water companies, postal services, internet and streaming platforms and financial and investment entities. 

It’s of particular concern for the Spanish government to improve such services for people in rural areas, the elderly and those with certain disabilities as they are the ones who are most at risk of exclusion and discrimination. 

If approved by the Spanish Cabinet and then written into law by the Spanish Parliament in early 2022, the draft law would mean companies have to offer staff specific training to help people who fall within these vulnerable categories.

Some banks and utility companies do have 24-hour call centres but not all of them, making service delivery mediocre in many cases in Spain.

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