Consumer rights in Spain as a consequence of the coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the situation caused by the declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the declaration of a State of Alarm by the Spanish Government, the General Secretary for Consumption and Gambling of the Spanish Government’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs has implemented the rights that assist consumers in different situations caused by this health emergency that may be of interest to you:
1.- If your flight has been cancelled as a result of the declaration of a pandemic or flight bans imposed by the Government of Spain or any other country, you have the right to information, assistance and reimbursement or alternative transport, in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. With regard to the information, airlines must provide a form with the conditions of assistance and compensation. As regards assistance, they must offer sufficient food and drink, two telephone calls or access to e-mail and, if necessary, one or more nights’ accommodation, as well as transport between the airport and the place of accommodation. They must also provide reimbursement or alternative transportation to the final destination, where the company must offer three alternatives.
With regard to the right of reimbursement, when the carrier cancels the journey, the offer of a voucher in lieu of payment cannot affect your right as a passenger to opt for reimbursement, if you so prefer.
If the airline has not cancelled the flight to one of the countries or areas to which the Ministry of Health recommends not to travel, you must check whether the terms and conditions of the transport contract provide for the possibility of cancellation for health emergency reasons or whether the airline offers the alternative of postponing or cancelling the trip to these areas.
If these requirements are not met, but you are affected by the measures taken by the Government, you will have the right to cancel the flight without penalty. In that case, the airline may offer a flight alternative and, if within 60 days of the cancellation of the flight there has been no agreement between you and the company on the alternative offered, you will be reimbursed the amounts paid.
If you consider that your rights have not been respected and that the airline has not fulfilled its obligations, you should lodge a complaint with the company and, if there is no response or the response is not satisfactory, you may lodge a complaint with the State Air Safety Agency (AESA) which is free of charge.
2.- Concerning the cancellation of trips in other transports, if the trip is contracted with Renfe, the Ministry recommends that you consult the specific measures on changes and cancellations of tickets without cost to the passengers, which the company has enabled.
In other cases, when you cannot make the trip as a result of the measures decreed by the state of alarm or the company has suspended the trip, for this reason, you will be entitled to terminate the transport contract without penalty within 14 days of the end of the state of alarm and its extensions.
The carrier may offer an alternative journey, but if after 60 days from the cancellation there has been no agreement on the alternative offered, the carrier shall reimburse you for the amounts paid in the same way as payment was made. However, the company may deduct the expenses incurred for the reimbursement, which must be correctly detailed and in no case may it result in a penalty for you as a user.
3.- With regard to the cancellation of tours packages, that is, a tourist package with two or more services contracted for the same trip, and the destination was affected by the coronavirus situation, you, as a traveller, will have the right to terminate the contract before the start of the trip without paying any penalty and will be entitled to a full refund of any payment made, but not to additional compensation.
However, if the travel organizer proves that they have not received a refund from the hotels or airlines included in the trip, they may issue a voucher to replace these amounts. If after one year you have not enjoyed this voucher, the organizer must reimburse the corresponding amount.
4.- If an event or other type of services have been cancelled as a result of the measures taken during the alarm state (hotel, restaurant reservation, etc.), you will have the right to terminate the contract without penalty within 14 days of the end of the alarm state and its extensions.
Again, the service provider may offer you an alternative, but if it is not accepted within 60 days, you must be reimbursed. However, the company may deduct the expenses incurred for the reimbursement, which must be detailed and may not involve a penalty.
5.- Likewise, the following information may be of interest to you if you are enrolled in a gym or academy, or any other such service. Any fees that have already been paid and cannot be fully enjoyed, as long as they are the result of the measures taken by the alarm state, the service provider may offer you the option of enjoying the service at a later date or reducing the number of future fees. If you do not accept this alternative, you must be refunded the amounts already paid for the period of the service not provided for that reason.
They must not charge you any further monthly fees until the service can be provided normally again, but this will not result in the termination of the contract when the situation ends you must continue to pay the fees and the company must continue to provide the service.
6.- If you have contracted health insurance, you should check the specific terms and conditions of the contract with the insurance company. In the event of a dispute over the extent of the risks covered, you may make a claim against the insurance company and, if you do not receive a reply or the reply is not satisfactory, you may file a complaint with the Directorate-General of Insurance and Pension Funds.
7.- If you have purchased goods electronically, the trader must deliver them to you without any undue delay and no later than 30 days after the conclusion of the contract, unless other delivery times have been agreed.
If this deadline is not observed, you would be entitled to terminate the contract and the trader would have to reimburse you for all amounts paid without any undue delay.
Similarly, if you purchased goods but due to the measures taken during the alarm state the fulfilment of the contract becomes impossible, you, as a consumer, will be entitled to terminate the contract without penalty within 14 days from the end of the alarm state and its extensions.
The seller may offer you an alternative delivery of the product, but if within 60 days you do not accept it, the seller must reimburse you the amounts paid in the same way as the payment was made. However, once again, the company may deduct the costs incurred for the reimbursement, which must be detailed and not involve any penalty.
Finally, it is also important to remember that during the state of alarm and its possible extensions, the deadlines for the exercise of the resolution of contracts, as well as the right of withdrawal, whether purchased remotely or in person, are interrupted.
Likewise, the periods for the exercise of the consumer’s and user’s right of withdrawal are suspended in the event of lack of conformity (legal or commercial guarantee) of the products.
In this effect, the calculation of deadlines will be resumed after the end of the alarm state and its extensions.
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