/ Francisca Barrientos interviewed by El Mercurio: Sectors that will be most impacted by the pro-consumer law

February 9, 2022

The new regulation provides for several important modifications and the areas that will be most affected are automotive companies, airlines and retail. Francisca Barrientos, Of Counsel of
Alessandri Abogados, was interviewed by El Mercurio in an article on the subject.


Retail: Customers may retract their online purchases

As El Mercurio explains, retail, mainly e-commerce and delivery, is one of the sectors that will be most impacted by the new pro-consumer law. Our Alessandri counselor and director of Private Law at the Alberto Hurtado University, Francisca Barrientos, told the newspaper that the law “allows that, in the event that a consumer regrets the online purchase of a product, he/she has the right to retract the purchase within ten days of receiving it. In addition, the customer does not need to justify that he/she does not want the product. The withdrawal is absolute and does not require indicating that there is a fault”.

El Mercurio notes that “the expert pointed out that this is a relevant modification, since previously this right only existed if the company included it among the terms and conditions published on its web page”. “Now all companies that sell products online -not those engaged in the provision of services- must consider that someone may regret their purchase. It’s something that was thought of because of the peak of e-commerce during the pandemic,” said Francisca.


Sernac’s role in personal data processing

Francisca Barrientos points out in El Mercurio that “one of the important aspects to be promoted by the agencies is to have adequate communication and coordination between them. For example, in this area Sernac has the power to request data from other sector regulators who also have powers in this area”.


Automotive sector: End of “tied sales” and replacement vehicles in repairs

Before entering into the sale and purchase or leasing contract with the customer, suppliers must inform the customer of the conditions for maintaining the vehicle’s voluntary warranty in force. The modifications regarding this market begin to take effect on April 24.

Francisca Barrientos stated that “automotive manufacturing, distribution and direct sales will be highly impacted, because companies are obliged to have a list of many technical services and not only exclusive ones”.


Financial retail: consumers could complain about credit risk assessments

Companies are obliged to qualify the previous creditworthiness of the person asking for money, but under the previous law this was done under a credit risk assessment according to the company’s own interests. Companies such as banks, retailers, compensation funds and cooperatives will have to modify their economic solvency analysis before granting loans, because with the new law this procedure will be standardized.

Our counselor pointed out in El Mercurio that “a complaint could be made in the event that the credit risk assessment has been measured incorrectly and, eventually, authorities such as the Financial Market Commission, Sernac or judges could review it. Before, the companies measured according to their own criteria and nobody could complain”.


Universities: must provide certificates free of charge

Another important modification provided for in the pro-consumer law and already in force affects universities. Francisca Barrientos announced that “there can no longer be branches of finance companies or lenders offering consumer loans within higher education institutions. For example, there can be a branch of a bank that offers State-guaranteed loans, but it is sanctioned if it offers a consumer loan. Then, it could only offer credit related to the cost of education”.


Airlines: compensation for overbooking

As El Mercurio points out, another of the economic sectors that will have a high impact given the changes introduced by the pro-consumer law is commercial aviation. Modifications are already in force, but experts comment that there have not yet been any cases related to this regulation. This is due to the lower flow in this market since the pandemic.

Regarding customer compensation for overbooking, our Alessandri counsel, Francisca Barrientos, commented that “before this regulation, compensation was at the discretion of each company. However, these changes establish a general and standardized rule for all airlines”.

In detail, the media highlights that “airlines must inform the client a series of aspects at the moment of communicating the boarding denial and prior to adopting compensatory measures”.


Source: Excerpts from the interview in El Mercurio, Economía y Negocios, B10, Sunday, January 30, 2022.