The requirement for all goods suppliers and service providers to keep a complaints book arose upon the publication of Decree-Law 156/2005, of 15 September, subsequently amended by Decree-Law 371/2007, of 6 November, with a view to reinforcing the procedures for the defence of the rights of consumers and users within the scope of relationships for the supply of goods or provision of services. The establishments that are subject to this compulsory requirement are listed in the Schedule that was published with the last amendment to this legislation, Decree-Law 371/2007, of 6 November.
Thus, commercial establishments which carry on their business activity in a fixed and permanent physical establishment, where they are in contact with the public, and which supply goods or provide services, are obliged to keep a complaints book on the premises and to make it available free of charge to its customers or clients, whenever requested to do so.
Once a customer or client makes a complaint, the supply of goods or provider of services has a time limit of 10 days to submit the original of the complaint to the relevant market control body or to the regulatory body for the sector in question, enclosing with this document any allegations it deems relevant as well as any explanations it provided to the complainant at the time the complaint was made.
If the commercial establishment does not have a complaints book, the goods suppliers and service providers are subject to fines and additional penalties, which vary according to whether the person in question is a company or business or an individual and the gravity of the infringement.
In any event, negligence is punishable and consequently companies and/or individual goods suppliers and/or service providers should take particular care when opening a commercial establishment to acquire the document immediately and to affix a sign at the establishment in legible letters with the words “This establishment has a complaints book”.
Finally, the complaints books must be kept on file for a minimum period of 3 years from the date of closure.
João Neto Peixe