Advice on Consumer Law
Wolfenson Lawyers provides specialized legal advice in consumer law and advertising.
Our Firm offers comprehensive legal services in matters of consumer law to individuals, companies and consumer associations in Chile. Identifying possible risks in the advertising of products, advising on disputes about possible abusive clauses, granting review and study of adhesion contracts, and also representing the interests of our clients in individual, collective or diffuse interest litigation before Ordinary Courts of Justice and the Local Police Courts.
We also resolve possible disputes with public bodies, such as the National Consumer Protection Service (Sernac), among others.
Here is a legal guide to provide you with guidance on consumer law in Chile:
What is consumer law?
Consumer law is that area of law that is dedicated to studying the legal relationships between consumers of goods and / or services and those who provide such goods and / or services. Its purpose is generally to address the iniquities that may occur with respect to natural differences (both economic and information) that normally occur between consumers and providers .
What are the main consumer rights in Chile?
The current rights, recognized by Law No. 19,496 , on the protection of consumer rights are as follows:
Right to free choice: What is the right to free choice?
Consumers have the right to choose the product or service of their preference , without the seller being able to put conditions that are not properly informed, or compel them to choose another alternative, for whatever reason. Each one must evaluate which product or service meets their needs or wishes according to their characteristics and price .
Right to accurate and timely information: What is the right to accurate and timely information?
The company must ensure that the basic information of a product or service is available to consumers , that is, it must clearly inform the price, the conditions of purchase or contracting , and other relevant characteristics of the products. and / or services it offers. This applies especially in the case of offers and promotions , situations in which the company must inform what the price reduction or promotion consists of (for example, 2x1 or "pack" products): what products it applies to, what means of Payment can be used, until the date it is in force, as well as any other condition that exists, for example, if the offer or promotion applies in all the company's premises or only in some branches . The information must be legible and be in Spanish .
Companies must keep their advertising promises:
Companies must effectively deliver the product or service they advertise , that is, consumers must be able to verify that the characteristics of the product or service offered are real, even in the case of images used in advertising (for example, in the case of edible products). Misleading or misleading advertising is sanctioned by law. Likewise, they must comply with the offers and promotions that are made known through any type of advertising , and the conditions to access these benefits must be reported in the same advertisement , whether print, digital, radio or audiovisual (for example, discounts on the value of tickets for shows for customers of a bank, store or any other company).
Right not to be arbitrarily discriminated: What is the right not to be arbitrarily discriminated?
Companies cannot deny entry to their premises , nor refuse to attend or deliver information to a consumer, based on their appearance, socioeconomic status, gender, age, skin color, ethnicity, nationality, if they have any type disability, etc. This right ensures all consumers equal treatment in the market , so that they cannot be discriminated against , excluded or arbitrarily improperly treated based on their age, religious creed, sex, socioeconomic status, race etc. There are places that can reserve the right of admission by establishing a dress code (for example, requiring formal clothing), or by not admitting minors; however, they must inform it explicitly and visibly for consumers .
Right to security in the consumption of goods and services: What is the right to security of consumption?
Any product or service offered in the market for use or consumption must be free of risks for the safety , health or life of consumers and that it does not mean harm to the environment . Companies must be responsible for this. Likewise, companies that manufacture products must inform on the labeling and / or in the instructions for use , as appropriate, the composition of the product, its possible adverse effects, how to use it and what precautions to take. Companies that provide services must also be responsible for the security of their facilities , for example, the electricity company must take care that the electrical wiring does not put at risk the safety of people both in public space and in their homes.
Right to redress or compensation: What is the right to redress or compensation?
Companies must be held responsible for any material and moral damage suffered by consumers due to their negligence in the marketing of products or services , or in the maintenance of their facilities.
Right to withdraw or terminate a payment contract within 10 days of receiving the product or contracting the service:
The right of withdrawal applies to the following specific cases in which a product is purchased or a service is contracted through an electronic means or by signing a contract , provided that 10 days have not elapsed from the date on which the You made the purchase or the document was signed:
• Verbal or written acceptance of a product or service promoted by a company in the space of a meeting or event held for commercial purposes; for example, “timeshare” or events to show and sell properties.
• Contracts concluded by electronic means and in which an offer made through catalogs, notices or any other form of remote communication is accepted , unless the company has expressly provided otherwise in the terms and conditions of the transaction . In addition, this right applies in a special way to contracts with higher education institutions (tuition and advance payment of fees, documentation of fees and / or signing of promissory notes), whether it be a university, professional institute or technical training center. .
Right to the legal guarantee: What is the right to the legal guarantee?
Companies must respect the right to the legal guarantee , which is in force for 3 months from the receipt of the product that is defective or is unsafe . The consumer has the right to request the change of the product, its repair or the refund of their money , depending on their preference and without the company imposing one of these options or another procedure. It also applies to packaged products that do not comply with what is reported (quantity, weight) or are in poor condition.
Financial Rights: What are the consumer's financial rights?
With the entry into force of Law No. 20,555 , Consumer Law No. 19,496 was amended, giving SERNAC new powers, and incorporated a series of rights for consumers in financial matters . These rights are:
1. Right to close any financial product in 10 days . That is, if you do not want to have the bank card or the multi-store, and paid what you owed, you can end the contract and stop receiving the charges that mean keeping them.
2. Right not to "tie" it with other products and services that you did not ask for. For example, if you want to get a card from a multi-store, you cannot be forced to also take out insurance . If forced, it constitutes a tied sale. Companies may offer products associated with credit, but you will always have the freedom to accept them or not. If you buy any associated product, you must be in a separate contract and express your willingness to contract it by signing it. For example, if you want to purchase insurance, it must have a different annex to the main product
3. Right that companies do not change the conditions or costs of the contract if you do not agree. For example, if you have a multi-store or bank card, the commissions or prices reported in the contract cannot be raised.
4. They cannot set limits to electronic means of payment in case the client has an account at another bank. If they offer you the automatic payment method or electronic transfers for financial products or services, they may not require you to have an account at the same institution that granted you the credit, but must allow the automatic payment agreement to be made by a distinct entity.
5. The quote given by a bank or multi-store must be valid for at least 7 business days.
6. It is prohibited to send representative products or contracts to their address or place of work when you have not requested them. For example, they cannot send credit cards that you have not requested to your home.
7. Right not to be limited to buying with the same card of the commercial house where you are buying. They can offer you a special discount for paying with a certain card, but they cannot deny you the sale of that product if you want to pay by another means of payment.
8. Right not to be charged a commission or made to sign a new contract in case the plastic of the card is changed.
9. You can demand the timely release of the guarantees provided to ensure the fulfillment of your obligations , such as a mortgage or pledge , once all the obligations have been extinguished, that is, when you fully pay off your credit or other financial operation. For mortgages of a specific and general nature (with respect to the latter, the rise must be required by the debtor), there is a period that must not exceed 45 days from the total extinction of the debt, for the provider to carry out the procedure of uprising at your expense and cost; in the case of garments, the same rule applies.
10. Every time a good is offered as a guarantee, it must be appraised. You have the right to choose the property appraiser from the list of appraisers presented by the financial institution.
11. Right that the credit guarantee is specific , that is, that it only guarantees the credit that you are requesting and not all the debts that you have, otherwise you must expressly request it.
12. Right to know the total cost of the credit or CTC and the CAE or equivalent annual charge.
13. Right to know the objective conditions of the rejection of a credit , which the supplier must establish in advance and publicly for the granting of a credit.
14. Right to know the credit settlement when required.
15. Right to demand that the conditions for contracting a credit or other financial operations are objective and established in advance and publicly.
16. Suppliers must include a summary sheet in the adhesion contracts and in the quotes with the main clauses of the contract , which will allow them to know the characteristics of the product or service offered and compare it with other financial institutions.
17. Right to request information about your credit and the company must deliver it within a maximum period of 3 days.
18. The Supplier shall inform all the products that appear in the adhesion contracts and the charges for services rendered , with a breakdown of all charges. Therefore, they cannot charge you what is not previously indicated in the contract.
19. Periodically report on your financial products. Every month you should receive your credit card statement and every three months you should be sent information about the status of your consumer credit . Companies must respect the rights established in Law No. 19,496 and Consumers cannot renounce them either. Businesses cannot limit the rights of consumers. NOTHING IS ABOVE THE LAW, nor the “company policies”. Therefore, all those commercial formulas used by some companies such as:
• " No exchange or refund "
• " Only changes the first 10 days "
• “ Changes only from Monday to Thursday between 10:00 am and 3:00 pm ”
• “ This establishment is not responsible for the thefts that your vehicle may suffer ” Any similar formula that is used in the sale of new goods or services and that makes it difficult for the consumer and the legitimate exercise of their rights , has no legal validity . On certain occasions, some companies establish rules, mechanisms or procedures that, in practice, are real obstacles that make the exercise of the rights of consumers more expensive or difficult . The end result is that the costs of claiming are greater than the benefit and cost of ceasing to use the contracted goods or services . For example, some stores have a company rule to authorize the change of products at a more restricted time than the time the product is sold. This practice is prohibited by the Consumer Law , since it expressly states that the changes must be made in the same place, without time restrictions and, as a general rule, never under inferior or different conditions than the sale.
What is SERNAC (National Consumer Service)?
The National Consumer Service ( SERNAC ) is a decentralized public service with a presence in all regions of the country ; It reports directly to the Presidency of the Republic through the Ministry of the Economy . Its function is to ensure compliance with the provisions contained in Law No. 19,496 and other regulations that relate to / as consumers, spread rights and duties and carry out actions of protection , information, education and promote citizen participation.
What should be understood by Provider for Consumer Law?
Natural or legal persons , of a public or private nature , who habitually carry out activities of production, manufacture, import, construction, distribution or commercialization of goods or provision of services to consumers , for which a price or fee is charged. ( Art. 1 No. 2 Law No. 19,496 on Protection of Consumer Rights ). People who have a professional title and carry out their activity independently are not considered suppliers . The friend who fixed the water heater is not a supplier, without this being his usual activity, although he has charged for it; the person who sold you your car or a used camera through a newspaper ad, nor the professionals who practice independently, such as doctors or private attorneys .
What should be understood by Consumer?
They are defined by law as natural or legal persons who use or enjoy a good or contract a service , by paying a price or a fee , to make use of them as final recipients and apply them to satisfy their personal needs or from your family group . They are also consumers / non-profit institutions, such as a neighborhood council that buys the end of the year gifts, a union buying what is necessary for their anniversary party, an amateur sports club buying equipment for their players, etc. The essential thing of the consumers is that they buy a good or contract a service to enjoy or consume it , but without commercial or industrial purposes, except for the provisions of Law 20,416 , which establishes special rules for micro and small companies , in their role as consumers . ( Art. 1 No. 1 Law No. 19,496 on the Protection of Consumer Rights ). It is always advisable to have lawyers specialized in consumer law for business legal advice on this matter.
Wolfenson Abogados provides professional legal advice focused on consumer law and business advice.
Links of interest on Legal Advice on Consumer Law :
1.- Civil Code
If you need more information and legal advice regarding consumer law, we invite you to contact our lawyers in Santiago. We are located at Avenida Apoquindo 2930 in the commune of Las Condes, Santiago de Chile.