Recently we went to a restaurant where the service was so abysmal and we were treated in such an off-hand way that I asked for the “Livro de Reclamações” (this is the complaints book). Despite being invisible for 90 minutes it was amazing that the manager of the establishment, like a Gene from the lamp, suddenly materialized by my side. He was pleading with me not to make an entry in the complaints book. Ten minutes later, still no complaints book, and hubby was out of the door – he just wanted something to eat. I was furious, and wanted to stand my ground. Begrudgingly, however, I had to concede defeat to the now grovelling manager and I left muttering that we would not be eating there again.
The incident, however, left doubts in my mind concerning my rights as this was the second time I had asked for the “Livro de Reclamações” and it was refused. Was it because I was English and they assumed I was a tourist and did not know my rights? This led me to investigate further and share the following information with you.
All establishments with a complaints book MUST clearly display the poster. “This establishment has book of complaints” I was recently in a shopping centre in the Algarve and tested the theory and yes some notices were clearly visible.
What is the “Livro de Reclamações” (Complaints Book)?
The complaints book is where the consumer can file a complaint in reference to supplier of goods or provider of services
How to file your complaint
The latest edition of the book is now in Portuguese and English. Complaints are recorded in the book in triplicate and must be completed in a clear and concise manner.
The business/establishment must give you a copy of the complaint within five days and send the second copy to the authority responsible for their field of business for review. The third copy of the complaint remains in the book.
– Use a biro so the complaint cannot be erased.
– Write clearly and in block letters so it is easy to read.
– Identify the place or service provider (name and address), yourself (your name, address and Residencia Card or Passport number)
– Note the reason(s) for your complaint along with the date and time it occurred.
– Keep all documentation relating to the complaint i.e., invoices, brochures, photos, contracts etc) plus a copy of the complaint.
– If there are any witnesses take their contact details – you may need their testimony later to support your complaint.
The complaint is reviewed by the relevant authority who will decide if the complaint is upheld and what penalty will apply if appropriate. Insufficient information on the complaint will result in the business/establishment having ten days to present mitigation in their defence.
Who do you contact when Complaints book denied?
If the complaints book is denied you may either call the police to report that the your request to file a complaint in the Livro de Reclamações has been denied or you can send a letter to the appropriate authority responsible for the activity or service.
A fine from €3,500 to up to €30,000 can be incurred by the business/establishment if the Livro de Reclamações is denied. However, if the police intervenes there is a minimum fine of €15,000 euros. The threat of calling the police is often enough.
Further information (in Portuguese) can be found at www.portolegal.com/LivroReclamacoes.htm
I do hope you find the above information useful next time you wish to complain.