Recent developments in Consumer Law

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Today we rush to provide a summary of interesting developments at the interface of consumer law that have taken place during the last months.

By means of Resolution 1015/2021, the Argentine Trade Department has added to the Argentine local framework the Mercosur Resolution 11/2021 regarding the protection of consumers in situations of hypervulnerability. By doing this, it has extended the local concept of vulnerable consumers.

Resolution 11/2021 lists cases that may constitute causes of hypervulnerability (among others, being a child or a teenager, having the status of a migrant or tourist, being in a situation of socioeconomic vulnerability or being a person with a disability). It also sets that the presumption of hypervulnerability is not absolute so it must be analysed on a case-by-case basis.

This concept is not new to Argentina legal system, as it was previously included by Resolution No. 139/2020. This resolution defined hyper-vulnerable consumers as individuals who are consumers in situations of vulnerability considering their age, gender, physical or mental state, or because of their social, economic, ethnic and/or cultural circumstances.

Because of this, suppliers of goods and services must:

  1. Use clear, plain language to ensure that vulnerable consumers can understand.
  2. Ensure the appropriate and rapid resolution of conflict by providing all possible assistance.

In addition, Resolution 1033/2021 (the “Resolution”) issued by Argentine Trade Department establishes the "Mandatory Minimum Quality Parameters for Remote Attention and Customer Services" (“Parameters”), applicable to the remote attention and communication services provided by suppliers of goods and services.

The main aspects of the Resolution are:

  1. Customer Service must be accessible, effective, friendly, respectful, considerate. Customer service must ensure that all necessary information is provided to the consumer.
  2. Suppliers must be able to solve claims and any other issue raised by consumers through Customer Services. All claims must be solved within a maximum of 10 working days.
  3. Treatment with dignity and respect. Clear information must be provided as established by the Right to Information
  4. Consumers must receive service from an individual, irrespective of whether their first contact was made by telephone or electronic means.
  5. In the case of debt claims, suppliers must provide detailed, adequate, and sufficient information, especially the amount of the debt, its cause, the original capital and interests. In addition, the issuance of a certificate of free debt, at the request of the alleged debtor, when the debt claimed is non-existent or time barred.
  6. Prevent the interruption of communication due to unavailability of operators and avoid abrupt, impulsive, or violent interruption.
  7. Customer service must follow certain guidelines on timing for the attention of consumers.

Please note that suppliers must adopt these Parameters, except for small and medium enterprises, within 6 months (April 12, 2022).

Finally, suppliers that fail to comply with these Resolutions will face sanctions as set forth in the Consumer Protection Law No. 24,240.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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