The OMIC continues to provide its services to the public electronically and through the 010 phone service. Claims and enquiries will continue to be dealt with online. Queries requiring face-to-face assistance will be dealt with Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 1 pm, with prior appointment.

Bussiness area

This area is for companies that provide goods and services and wish to facilitate and link their economic activities to consumer guarantees and satisfaction.

We see the claims and enquiries received by the OMIC as an opportunity for companies to find out how their activities affect consumers so that they can improve their products and the quality of their services accordingly.

If you have any questions regarding your rights and obligations to consumers as a business or about the procedures carried out at the OMIC, you can contact us at the email address omicempreses@bcn.cat.

You can also send us your responses to any claims received, as well as any arguments you may deem necessary.

The OMIC provides:

Companies’ rights as consumers

The Consumer Code also considers self-employed workers and micro-enterprises (businesses employing fewer than 10 employees and with an annual turnover or annual balance sheet not exceeding €2 million) to be consumers.

Therefore, and in accordance with its powers, the OMIC can provide information and advice on contractual relationships between commercial establishments and companies providing basic and ongoing services, such as utility and telephony companies, insurance providers, etc. 

Frequently asked questions for companies

What should I do if I receive a claim from the OMIC?

If you receive a claim from the OMIC, you have 30 days to consider it and respond.  You can send your arguments in person, by email or through the website, where there is an area just for you.

The OMIC will consider the claim, check whether there is a possible infringement and mediate between the two parties. When we receive your response, we will forward it to the consumer and, if an agreement is reached, the case will be shelved. Alternatively, if the consumer does not agree with the response, the case will be referred to the Barcelona Consumer Arbitration Board or to the competent body in order to continue with the procedure.

Are establishments required to have claim / incident report forms?

All commercial establishments must have official claim, complaint and incident report forms available for users and consumers.

The following are exempt from the obligation to have official claim, complaint and incident report forms:

  • Civil-law notaries or persons with public powers, provided that they are paid by means of tariffs.
  • Public services provided directly by the Administration.
  • Schools providing state-approved education.
  • All activities that are subject to specific laws or regulations on claim, complaint and incident report forms:.

Commercial establishments must have on public display, permanently and in a clearly visible place, a sign stating that claim, complaint and incident report forms are available. The sign must also provide a citizen help and information number for enquiries on consumer issues and, if the establishment has one, the customer service number or email address.

 

When is an establishment required to provide a claim/complaint form?

Under Catalan Government Decree 121/2013 on the regulation of official claim, complaint and incident report forms, an establishment is required to provide a claim form whenever it is requested by a consumer – whether or not they are a customer.  You must provide the form and stamp it in any case, even if the business relationship has not been formalised or you believe that the consumer is wrong. Providing and stamping the form does not imply acceptance of the claimant’s claim, it merely indicates that the claim has been received and will be considered.

When the claim form is formalised at the commercial establishment

  • It must include the date
  • It must be stamped or signed
  • The establishment may submit its own arguments in the section of the form made available specifically for that purpose.

The establishment must retain a copy and issue the other two, duly stamped, to the consumer. The obligation to take it to the competent body lies with the consumer. If the arguments of the claim are not made in the form itself or the company wishes to consider the case in greater detail, the company must respond to the claim within 30 days.

 

How should prices be advertised?

The sales price of goods and products must be displayed both in the shop window and inside the establishment. The price must state the full amount to be paid by the consumer and, if necessary, a breakdown of what it includes, such as taxes, fees, additional costs to be paid by the consumer and other similar items.

In the case of products sold by weight or in measurable packaging, the price must be stated per unit of measurement (e.g. kilo, litre, metre).

In the case of services, the price must be visible to the public by means of a sign, price list or leaflet.

 

Can you be charged a surcharge for using a credit or debit card?

No. If a commercial establishment accepts credit or debit card payments, it may not increase the prices or apply any kind of fee for using them except in the case of cards known as “tripartite” cards (American Express or Diners Club), where they are allowed to do this but only for amounts not exceeding the direct costs to be borne by the business as a result of accepting this payment method. Consumers must, in any event, be informed of the amount of the fee.

You may limit the amount and set a minimum or maximum, provided that these conditions are not abusive. In other words, the maximum or minimum amounts must be within bands that are appropriate to the social and economic reality based on the type of establishment or sector of activity concerned. Furthermore, the establishment must provide this information correctly with the same method used to inform consumers that it accepts card payments, so that they are aware of it before making their purchase.

 

If an establishment accepts card payments, can it restrict their use?

No. If a commercial establishment usually accepts cards or other payment methods, it cannot restrict their use to certain times or conditions, for example during sales periods.

Is it mandatory to provide an invoice or till receipt?

Yes. All businesses or merchants must issue an invoice, till receipt or proof of the transaction carried out. In relation to this, the medium used for the invoice or till receipt must last for at least the same amount of time as the useful life or time of compliance of the good or service provided. In other words, you may not use paper or other materials for documents that will become illegible over time if the continued existence of the information cannot be guaranteed to last for at least the useful life or time of compliance of the good or service.

How are prices advertised during sales periods?

Information on reductions to the usual prices of goods or services made available for sale may be given by stating their normal or usual price with the reduced price next to it, or by stating the percentage of the reduction applied next to the normal or usual price.

What obligations do businesses and merchants have towards consumers?

Businesses and merchants are required to attend to, provide and furnish the information requested by consumers in a personal manner and, if appropriate, in person. This means that they have to attend to them using systems that allow for a personal, non-automated service. If the establishment has a customer service number, this may under no circumstances be a premium rate number (such as 807 numbers).

Businesses and merchants are also required to respond to consumers who have sent them claims or complaints or reported incidents arising from the consumer relationship as soon as possible, and in any event within a maximum of one month.

Regarding the documents that must be provided to consumers by law, these must comply with the formal requirements to make them easier to read and understand. The font size must thus help make the documents easier to read and understand, and the smallest font must have at least as much contrast as the best contrast in the entire text.

What warranties must be given with goods and services?
  1. Warranties on consumer goodsSellers are liable for any non-compliances in products for 2 years from their date of delivery. During the first 6 months, non-compliances are assumed to be of origin. During the remaining 18 months, the burden of proving that the non-compliance in the product is of origin lies with the consumer. If a product is non-compliant, the consumer can choose between the following options:
    • Repairing or replacing the product.
    • A price reduction or cancellation of the contract, with a refund of the money paid.

    The manufacturer, seller, importer, brand owner, etc. may optionally offer a commercial warranty, which must be more advantageous to the consumer than the legal warranty. In the case of durable goods, the commercial warranty must always be given in writing

  2. Warranty on servicesUnless there are specific sectoral laws or regulations, and without prejudice to the legislation on the conformity of products, services must have a warranty of at least six months from the date on which they ended.

 

Is it mandatory to provide a quote in advance?

Businesses and merchants who provide services must give a written quote in advance unless the consumer expressly waives this requirement, which must also be done in writing.

Those who sell products only have to provide a quote if so requested by the consumer.

The quote is binding, and the consumer may be charged for its preparation provided they have been informed in advance. 

Is it mandatory to have your trading hours displayed in a visible place?

Establishments in which goods are available for sale or services are offered must inform the public of their trading hours, making this information visible from the outside even when the establishment is closed.

You will find more information on trading hours on Barcelona City Council’s Commerce website.

What is the current language policy?

Consumers are entitled to be invited to purchase, and to receive contractual documents such as standard-form contracts, quotes, receipts for deposits, invoices and other commercial documents, in Catalan.

Fixed information, such as posters or signs in establishments, must also be provided in Catalan.

When are you required to exchange a product or give a refund?

There is an obligation to exchange products or give refunds in the following cases:

  1. When a product is defective, the consumer is entitled to choose between repairing or replacing it, provided that this is possible and proportionate. If the product is still non-compliant after it has been repaired and delivered, you can choose between a replacement (unless this is disproportionate), a price reduction or the cancellation of the contract. If you choose to replace it and the replacement product is not compliant, you can choose between demanding a repair or a price reduction or cancelling the contract.
  2. When, due to the type of sale, consumers have a right of withdrawal, they are entitled to return the product within 14 calendar days after the sale and request a refund. This applies, for example, to sales not made in person at commercial establishments, such as distance sales (e.g. online, by phone or by post) or at the consumer’s home.
  3. When this is expressly stated in the offer, promotion or advertisement or in the establishment’s proof of purchase itself.

In the case of sales of products in perfect condition, you should therefore take the following into account:

  1. If the commercial establishment does not state anything in its offers or advertisements or in the establishment itself, it is deemed not to make exchanges or refunds. However, you are strongly advised to inform your customers of this fact in a clear and visible manner at the time of purchase (for example, with a statement such as: “No exchanges or returns of products in perfect condition are permitted”).
  2. If the commercial establishment wants to give customers refunds and exchanges, it is essential to inform them in advance, clearly, in writing and in a visible manner, of the conditions under which it will do so and, in particular, of:
  • The deadline for the return or exchange (it is recommended that this should never be less than 15 days).
  • The place.
  • Any exceptions, depending on the nature of the product.
  • Whether exchanges of discounted products or products sold during sales periods will be accepted.
  • Whether certain conditions for the return or exchange of a product will be required (such as whether they must still have the label or original packaging).

In addition:

In the case of refunds, you must inform customers of the method to be used for the refund (e.g. credit card, cash).

In the case of exchanges, you must inform them about the conditions under which they will be carried out and, if the product cannot be exchanged for an identical one, of whether you are offering:

  • An exchange for a different product, with a voucher for the difference; or
  • A voucher. In the latter case, you must state and specify the terms of use, particularly with regard to its expiry date and whether or not it will be accepted during sales periods, on the voucher itself.