New rules for call centres enter into force

November 29th sees the entry into force of Decree-Law No. 134/2009 of 2 June, which establishes the regulations governing the provision of services of promotion, information and support to consumers and users through customer service call centres.

Under the new rules, call centres are required to operate in such a way as to ensure that consumers do not have to wait on the line for more than 60 seconds, with additional imposition of an option which allows the service to be cancelled.

A number of other practices have been banned which include forwarding the call to other numbers which involve an additional cost to the consumer without their explicit consent and the issuance of any publicity while the consumer is waiting for service. In addition, call centres are obliged to publicise the phone number of the service and its period of operation, especially the periods of personalised service, which now have to be marked clearly in all material supporting professional communications.

In order to respect the right to privacy, calls by professionals will now be subject to a schedule that respects periods of rest and which shall not start before 9 am and shall end no later than 10pm, except where the consumer has given their prior consent.

The sectoral regulators have been charged with enforcing compliance with the new rules and with the application of sanctions for any breach. In the context of advertising, however, the responsibility for oversight rests with the Directorate General for the Consumer. In other cases, and in the absence of a regulatory authority, responsibility for oversight rests with the Food and Economic Safety Authority (ASAE).


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