As of August 3rd, companies providing goods or services in Argentina that are not registered as small or medium sized businesses shall comply with the new customer service and collection management directives set forth by the Secretary of Commerce. These directives also apply if contractors provide the aforementioned services. Lerman & Szlak has prepared a brief guide for the compliance of the new standards.
As of August 3rd, businesses must ensure that their customer services comply with the following:
- Make available to users a toll-free telephone answering service and a contact email. The contact information shall be listed on the company’s website or application.
- The telephonic customer service shall be available at least 60 hours per week. In addition, the telephone menu must have up to 5 options, one of which must be direct to a human operator.
- Users shall have the possibility of communicating with a human operator, by either telephone, chat or email. This person must be identified by name and surname.
- Prevent users from waiting more than 5 minutes before being attended by an operator in 90% of the telephone calls made to the customer service department.
- Avoid interruption of communication. If an interruption happens, the operator must record it in the system and communicate immediately with the user.
- Do not use waiting times to advertise goods or services.
The collection management services shall comply with the following requirements:
- Inform debtors: i) corporate name and address of the creditor and the collection manager, and means of contact; ii) time and place for in-person attention for claims; iii) amount of the debt, including, interests, applicable rate, charges, commissions and collection expenses and iii) date on which the debt was taken.
- Send the debtor a copy of the documentation related to the debt to the debtor’s address or email, at the debtor’s choice, within 24 hours from the initial contact.
- Issue a debt-free certificate within 24 hours from the debtor’s request.
In addition, collection management services may not:
- Claim debts through recordings.
- Contact debtors on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays, or business days before 9:00 a.m. or after 8:00 p.m.
- Contact family members, neighbor or workplaces of debtors to collect their debts.
- Calling from private or hidden numbers.
- Sending emails to a mailbox not provided by the debtor.
- Contacting a debtor directly if the debtor has previously communicated the designation of a legal representative.
Businesses covered by these obligations shall develop written protocols aligned with these parameters. In the event that they outsource customer or collection management services, these protocols shall be communicated to contractors and compliance to those protocols evaluated on a regular basis.
Infringement of the new directives of the Secretary of Commerce can result in penalties of up to $5,000,000, closures and loss of concessions, bids and tax or credit privileges.
This is also an excellent opportunity for small and medium-sized companies to gradually review their customer service and collection procedures. Although for the time being they are exempt from complying with the standards, we cannot rule out that in the future they may be required to comply with some of these directives.
For more information or guidance regarding compliance of this or other directives you can contact us at [email protected]
Gabriela Ruth Szlak (C.P.A.C.F. Tº 79 Fº 516)