The sanctions could exceed 100,000 euros
The Ministry of Consumption has initiated the first proceedings against several airlines for not having a free customer service telephone number or, even if it exists, it is difficult to access.
According to the Ministry, this implies a breach of legal obligations regarding customer service. From Consumption they have indicated to Europa Press that the name of the sanctioned airlines will be announced once the sanctioning files are resolved.
Facua has celebrated the opening of these files and has recalled that since 2021 it has been denouncing this breach by various airlines, including Blue Air, Binter, Canary Fly, Iberia, Wizzair, Volotea, Air Europa, Condor, Iberojet, Easyjet, Finnair , Iceland Air, SAS, Transavia, Wamos Air and EgyptAir.
Specifically, the regulations indicate that this telephone must be accessible to all consumers and that it must be free of charge, so geographical or special rate numbers are not valid.
Freephones are those that begin with the prefixes 800 or 900, called 'automatic collect services'.
Air transport falls within the category of basic service of general interest, which is why companies in this sector are obliged to have a free telephone, according to the norm established during the current legislature and included in the General Defense Law of Consumers and Users.
The sanctions provided for these infractions can reach between 150 and 10,000 euros if they are considered minor and between 10,001 and 100,000 if they are considered serious.
From Consumption they also point out that, if the illegal benefit obtained by the infringing practices exceeded these amounts, the sanctions could reach between two and four times the illegal benefit obtained for minor infractions and between four and six times the illegal benefit obtained for serious ones.
Consumption also announced last week the opening of a file on several 'low cost' airlines for charging extra costs for hand luggage carried in the cabin, of which, according to Facua, four of the companies are Ryanair, Vueling, Easyjet and Volotea.
CONSUMER "LACK OF TRANSPARENCY"
From Facua they regret that, "despite being the complainant", Consumption has not provided information on its actions in the face of these practices.
In fact, Facua highlights that this "lack of transparency" extends to practically all the complaints filed against more than 300 companies during the legislature for practices that violate consumer defense legislation.
The lack of response, as reported, has occurred both before the complaints filed before and after the entry into force of the legal change that, since May 2022, endows the ministry with sanctioning power.