How To Avoid Spanish Telecoms Penalty Charges

Consumer complaints in Spain regarding unfair and excessive penalty charges levied by Telecoms companies are on the rise. Take a look at what you should be aware of and always check your bills.

Not Returning Equipment (Router/TV Box)

We know your router is ancient. We know it’s not worth anything. Even those working in Spanish telecom stores admit it’s pointless handing in your router.

And yet it’s still one of the major money making clauses for all internet contracts.

Each company has a different requirement: some will send a courier to your home, others will allow you to hand it in to a local store.

But many companies are not upfront about how the return will be handled in the contract, and simply state: “upon contract cancellation the consumer will be provided with details on how to return the equipment”. Some even require the consumer to contact the company first – very sneaky!

With penalty charges of up to 100€ for non-return, it’s not something that you should just ignore.

When you change provider, or service with the same provider, double check how to return your used equipment. When you send/hand in the old equipment, keep the paperwork as proof.

Don’t forget that returning used equipment means also including the box, cables and any accessories.

Receipts Not Paid On The Due Date

By law you have 56 days to return an incorrect direct debit. However if you dispute the amount on a bill and still have a contract with your telecoms company DON’T RETURN IT.

Penalties for returned direct debits that have to be charged again range from 1€ to 30€. Some companies may even cut off your phone line!

If you think that your bill is incorrect, take it up with the company without returning the direct debit. You may think that this sounds unfair, and it is, but it’s the cheapest (and easiest) way to solve things.

Additionally not paying a bill could lead you to be placed on a debtor’s list, which should be avoided at all costs due to the extra problems it will cause.

Changing Your Mind During The 14-Day Cooling-Off Period

Distance-selling regulations, which include the 14-day cooling-off period, also apply to telecoms if they’ve been contracted online or over the phone.

Except this comes with a caveat.

Once the installation has started if you change your mind you’ll be liable for part of the cost up to that date. The “installation” could even just be a visit from your new provider!

To avoid any penalty, double check everything before changing to a better tariff or service.

Breaking A Locked-In Contract

Some providers offer to pay your penalty charge if you sign a contract with them. But is this true?

Well, the only way to know is to check the small print. It may be that this service comes with additional requirements, such as contracting bundles with services you don’t need.

Most telecoms online client portals will inform you regarding any period remaining when you’re locked-in to a contract.

Take into account that penalty charges must be proportional to the time left on the contract. If there are just a few months left and you could make a considerable saving by changing provider, it may be worthwhile paying the charge.

MSS Tips

If your Spanish is up to it, contact your provider by online chat. Most offer the opportunity to get a copy by email when the conversation has finished, giving you written confirmation of everything. Taking screenshots during the conversation can also be useful in case the email never arrives (yes, this did happen to me!).

Phoning can lead to misinterpretations, even if the company confirms that the conversation has been recorded. With email you won’t have confirmation that your message has been received.

When you can’t get your penalty charges problem solved in a satisfactory manner, get in touch with your local Municipal Consumer office and take a look at our post: How To Complain About Your Phone Company in Spain.