Sunday, March 09, 2008

The EU Commission has announced – to no one’s great surprise – that the steps taken by the Spanish government to block the takeover of an energy company by Germany’s EON were illegal. As were the same conditions imposed when Madrid later allowed an alternative merger involving an Italian company. So, what will happen now? Probably nothing, of course. Though the Chairman of EON has mumbled about getting back the €288 million[?] spent on the abortive venture. Vamos a ver. Maybe he will content himself with his comment that, to do anything in Spain, you need political friends. Well, if he didn’t previously know that you have to be enchufado here, then he had no business trying to do business here.

My neighbour collared me yesterday to ask whether I was having problems with my ADSL as he and another neighbour were getting no line from Telefonica and, on top of that, were finding it impossible to get away from them to try someone else. I sympathised and said things could have been worse. There’d been a letter in the Voz de Galicia yesterday saying that, up in Carral here in Galicia, they’d received nothing except a phone [which they’d paid for] and the promise of a line within 15 days. And this had been three years ago. I imagine there is much gnashing of teeth here when Spaniards read of Telefonica’s success at becoming the most profitable phone operator in the world. Perhaps they have friends in politics.

Customer service: Carrefour- Chapter 1
Me: I bought a printer a month ago and it isn’t working so I’d like to have my money back.
1st Assistant: [Without talking to me, speaking into a mike] Appliance assistant to the Information Desk, please.
2nd Assistant: Yes, what’s the problem.?
Me: I bought a printer, etc. [Explain problems].
2nd Assistant: Have you spoken with Epson?
Me: Yes, I have and none of their suggestions work. So I’d like to have my money back.
2nd Assistant: That’s not possible.
Me: Yes it is. I know the law.
2nd Assistant: OK, please wait here.
Me: Why?
2nd Assistant: I won’t be long.
2nd Assistant: OK, you have to bring the printer in so we can send it to the technical service people
Me: [Unwilling to wait the weeks/months this will take] No, I need a printer now. I’d like the money back, please, so I can buy a different printer.
2nd Assistant: No, we won’t do that as it’s more than 15 days since you bought it.
Me: That’s irrelevant under the law.
2nd Assistant: Well, that’s all we’re prepared to do.
Me: That’s not good enough. I’m going to take this to El Consumo [Consumer Affairs ministry of the local government].
2nd Assistant: Fine. No pasa nada [It doesn’t matter].

More anon, after I’ve been back on Monday with my friend, the lawyer. Meanwhile, I have to say it was all done so professionally that I suspect the Assistant [for lack of a better word] must have had formal training in obstructionism. Which rather contrasts with the obvious lack of training in customer orientation for the more junior staff who pack the shelves or serve at the check-outs. Mind you, they’re better than at Carrefour’s cheap sister shop, Día. I very much doubt the French parent company would be proud of either place. Or is it me?

As I occasionally report bad things about the still-growing-well Spanish economy, I feel it’s only right I quote these lines from an observer of the British scene, ahead of the annual Budget Speech in Parliament this week: The chancellor will place all the blame [for the plight of the British economy] on the US sub-prime housing market. But the challenge for any government’s economic policy is not how it copes when the rest of world is growing strongly, as it has over the past 15 years, but rather how it copes when times are tough. The credit crunch is international in reach, but it is Britain that, according to most observers, is the least well prepared. We did not fix the roof when the sun was shining. I suspect a few people would say much the same charge can be placed at the door of Mr Zapatero and his government. So, for those Brits lining up to leave the UK and pondering Spain as an option, what they have to decide is whether they would be leaping from the frying pan into the fire. As if it wasn’t bad enough having to deal with the rise of the euro and the regular reports of Spanish land-grab measures.

Right on cue - after my mention of estate agents yesterday - I see that the one I walk past every day has closed down. Time for another mini-survey?

It hasn’t been a good day so far. I discovered this morning that my Google toolbar entries had all disappeared. And I’ve just found that all the Bookmarks/Favourites that I’ve spent years building up have also vanished. Don’t you just love technology? Or is it just me?


Diego said...

Useless question after the fact, did you have your bookmarks backed up?

Also, if you use Firefox you can get an extension from Google called Google browser synch, it stores your firefox settings somewhere in their servers so that you can use your bookmarks in any pc, it also helps when disaster strikes.

Also, i am kind of ignorant on consumer law in Spain, where can i find the pertinent information about returns and refunds?

Actually i ignore many things but right now i cannot remember them.

Colin Davies said...

Very many thanks, Diego. No, although I use Firefox. I didn't know about the Google facility, which I will now check. Fortunately, I was able to import many of the Favourites from Microsoft Explorer. And I have now backed up my Bookmarks on a CD. Everything else I had backed up! It never occurred to me this could happen without the whole computer crashing. I wonder how it does happen as there's no evidence of a virus.

I will write again about consumer law when I have visited Carrefour again, this time with a lawyer friend who's dealt with them before on this sort of issue.