Joan Collins
BALEARIC consumers last year made a total of 4'584 complaints via the Balearic Government's Consumer Affairs Department. This was 118 more than in 2004. The greatest number of complaints were directed at the telephone sector, with 1'000 complaints passed on, 10 percent more than in 2004. However, the greatest increase in complaints in comparison with 2004 was to do with hire cars. There was a rise of 75 percent in complaints about this sector. There was also a rise of 20 percent in complaints about air transport.
Complaints about housing remained the same and complaints against telephone and internet companies rose by 10 percent.
According to Jesus Cuartero, head of the Comsumer Arbitration Service, the great increase in complaints to do with the “rent a car” sector was mainly due to “the reluctance of the rental companies to accept cash as a means of payment. The complainants said that they were told they could only pay by credit card, then when they returned the car the company would charge them for more petrol than was required, or charge more than one euro a litre for petrol. Also, other complainants said that they were charged for damage which the car had before they rented it”. Complaints about air transport rose by 20 percent, most complaints being about lost or damaged luggage, delays and cancellations.
Telephones and internet complaints continue to top the list with more than 1'000 as opposed to 900 in 2004.
Most complaints were about difficulty in cancelling contracts, especially for ADSL lines, discrepancies in bills and discrepancies in guaranteed charges for mobiles. The Consumer Affairs Department offers consumers and users varying advice.
With regard to air transport they recommend that, if you pack valuable objects in your suitcase, you should make a point of declaring this at the check in desk. If your suitcase is lost or broken, make a complaint to the proper authorities at your destination airport.
In the case of delayed or cancelled flights or overbooking, demand compensation from the company at the time this occurs.
With regard to the renting of cars it is recommended that you inspect the body of the vehicle for possible dents, scratches and other damage when it is delivered to you, point these out to the person delivering the vehicle and make sure they make a note of it. Also you should ask whether the petrol tank is full and switch on the ignition to make sure, then fill the tank before you return it.
With regard to telephone contracts, the Balearic Government says that you should always be given a written contract as “this has been an obligation for the telephone companies for seven years” according to the Law of General Contract Conditions which is “ignored by almost everyone”. When you want to cancel a contract you need to look at the contract “or telephone the company to ask what the cancellation procedure is”.
Stopping payment of bills is not a valid solution because then they will put you on the list of defaulters which could affect your credit rating.

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