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The Spanish government approved a bill that would overhaul the way companies handle customer service calls and eliminate long waiting times for customers, the Associated Press reported.
Under the bill, companies will be ordered to reduce long hold periods on customer service calls –instead, they will be forced to answer callers within three minutes. They will also be required to provide a real, human customer service representative when a caller requests one.
All customer inquiries will need to be answered within 15 days, according to the bill.
The new rules will apply to providers of basic services, such as utilities, phones and internet. Firms in these sectors also need to offer customer service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Meanwhile, all other companies will have to provide customer service within working hours.
Fines for breaking the law will range from $160 to $106,000.
Consumption Minister Alberto Garzón said that long waiting times and the use of chatbots have created difficulties for many consumers: “Customer service is a critical part of our relations with consumers which unfortunately and far too often causes endless headaches for Spanish families because far too many companies create bureaucratic labyrinths to stop you from exercising your right to service,” he told the AP. “These are difficulties which unfortunately waste an enormous amount of energy, time and money.”
The bill still needs to be approved by Spanish lawmakers before it takes effect.