Within the framework of the world consumer rights weekUdeco participated in an online conference called “Current panorama of consumer protection”. During the exhibition, the director of the organization, Alvaro Fuentesreported that Uruguayans make around 20,000 claims per year, for situations in which they felt harmed.
Those claims are directly related to transactions made in the commercial section, both in physical stores and in operations through the Internet. Users request Udeco’s mediation mainly “to try to reach agreements with the provider”.
However, Fuentes pointed to a Difficulty in giving a satisfactory answer to all cases, and is that, since the entire commercial spectrum falls under the competence of said unit, it is sometimes difficult to identify the supplier and his contact. “We are not regulatory bodies, we do not know who they are (some of the suppliers that are denounced), this added to the fact that part of them work with a certain informality, makes work difficult,” said the director of Udeco.
He also stated “over 90% of the cases, the merchants (from physical and online stores) are easily identifiable and contactable”.
Regarding the procedures that are implemented after Udeco received the request for mediation, Fuentes explained that the objective of the office “is always conciliation” and stressed that “in general, a favorable result for the interests” of both parties, being the minority of cases those that finally end up in the judicial orbit.
“Consumer protection is constantly evolving, we are constantly looking at what can be improved in the regulations and in the system; as well as trying to take advantage of the efforts and human resources of each agency and office (of the State), ”said Fuentes.
An investment in consumer rights
Another speaker was the lawyer from Guyer & Regules, Macarena Farina, who stated that for companies, the defense of consumer rights is a investment. In this sense, he indicated that it is necessary to “break” with the idea that consumer protection regulations “is a burden” for private sector companies since “the opposite” occurs.
Along the same lines, the litigation specialist indicated that the investment occurs not only because the main objective of the private sector “is to loyalty to its customers”, but also because “being a company that respects the rights of consumers is per se a advertising, it is investing in the image”. Likewise, Fariña pointed out that the company is also made up of people who are also consumers, so “interest is fed back.”
On the other hand, among the main achievements of the private sector, Fariña pointed out that the companies have worked hard to promote that “the consumer tries to solve the problem with the provider itself, prior to reaching the instance” of the claim before Udeco or another State body with competences in the matter, such as the Regulatory Unit for Energy and Water Services (Ursea) wave Communications Services Regulatory Unit (Ursec).