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What to do if your phone or internet company in Spain overcharges you

The Local Spain
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What to do if your phone or internet company in Spain overcharges you
What to do if your phone or internet company overcharges you in Spain. Photo: Maxim Ilyahov / Unsplash

Being overcharged by your phone and internet provider is frustrating if not infuriating. Luckily, there are steps that can be taken in Spain to file a complaint and probably get your money back.  

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First, some good news. According to a 2023 report by Spain's Telecommunications and Digital Services Office (OAUT), the number of complaints relating to phone and internet companies have been dropping in recent years, a fact corroborated by Spanish independent competition regulator CNMC. 

Therefore, companies such as Movistar, Orange and Vodafone are erroneously overcharging customers less often, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still happen.

Perhaps you have been charged for calls you didn’t make or maybe you’ve been charged extra for going over your allotted number of megabytes when you’re sure you didn’t.

If you think there’s been a mistake and you’ve been charged too much, the first step is to look over your billing carefully and note down any discrepancies. 

Currently, 28 percent of claims originate from billing problems, so it seems to be a common problem.

Trying to get your money back from these companies, may be a long and laborious task, but luckily a high percentage of complaints to telephone companies are favourable to the consumer, so it’s worthwhile.

The process of how to complain and reclaim your money back is structured into three phases. If these don't work, then there are two legal steps to take your complaint further. 

Step 1: The first phase is to contact the customer service team of the company and explain the problem. They may be able to sort out your issue then and there, but if the problem is not resolved you have the right to file a complaint within one month.

READ ALSO - How to lodge a formal complaint in Spain: Hoja de reclamación

Step 2: You can file a complaint via the web, by telephone or in writing to the operator's registered office. If you do send a letter, make sure it’s certified mail, which the company needs to sign upon receipt. If you do make a complaint by phone call, make sure you get a reference number for it, so you can keep a record.  

Step 3: If you do not obtain a satisfactory response from the company within a period of 30 days, you can take your case to the Organisation of Users and Consumers, if you are a member, or the Consumer Arbitration Board. You will have a period of three months in which to file with them.  

When you contact the Arbitration Board you must include all the details of your complaint and clearly state what you want in return – eg. a refund and the exact amount the company owes you.  

Along with your letter, you must provide evidence such as bills, contracts, invoices etc. that prove you are the customer and what the problem is.  

The board should issue you with a binding response that the phone or internet company must abide by.

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Taking your case further

In the case that they do not abide or agree to the ruling, you can take your case to the Telecommunications User Service Office of the Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda.

You will have another three months in which to do this. You can contact them online or by calling 901336699. They will advise you on the next best course of action to take and how to file another claim.  

Keep the number of the complaint filed with the operator and make sure to provide all your documentation and proof. You will also need a digital certificate.

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Last resort

Your last resort is to claim back your money through the courts.

Keep in mind that this is the most expensive option and could end up costing you more than the original amount of money you were overcharged.

Your best option, if the amount is less than €2,000, is to go to the Juzgado de Primera Instancia or Court of First Instance in the region where the company is located and file a complaint there.

This doesn’t involve the services of a lawyer and so will cost you less. The response time is about 20 days. If you are owned more than €2,000 you have to file a civil lawsuit that will cost you a fair amount. 

Remember, you have the right to leave your phone or internet company whenever you want, giving just two days’ notice.

It’s important to check if the contract has a permanency clause, however, as they may force you to pay up if you haven’t yet reached this amount of time. 

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