22 July 2015 – El Economista
The monitoring of the measures adopted by the Government to alleviate the hardship of families doomed to eviction is not proving to be as orderly as had been expected. Yesterday, the Bank of Spain revealed, in its Monitoring Report for 2014, that complaints had been received from “several public bodies” about “various credit entities” regarding the implementation of the so-called Code of Good Practice.
The aforementioned code was introduced in 2012 to force the restructuring of debt owed by underprivileged households, to grant them more favourable conditions, including significant discounts, “daciones in pago” and even, letting families stay in their homes in return for the payment of minimal rents to avoid forcing them out onto the street. The adoption of the code is voluntary, but once adhered to, its application becomes obligatory. The financial institutions signed up on mass, more than anything to avoid public embarrassment, given that the list of members is made public.
Yesterday, sources in the sector acknowledged that certain local and regional authorities have filed complaints about the monitoring process.
Local and regional governments
This represents a leap, albeit not in terms of scale, but maybe in terms of the focus of the conflict. The adoption of good practices and consumer protection measures are still major unfinished projects for the sector, whose reputation was seriously damaged during the crisis, due to the poor marketing of products such as preference shares, the scandalous retirements of managers from rescued entities and even, the sale of mortgages with floor clauses.
Conscious of the extent of the damage, numerous bankers publicly admitted their mistakes and sought to make amends. Last year, the supervisory body itself bolstered its schemes to ensure the proper marketing of products and the rapid resolution of disputes, through the creation of the Department for Market Conduct and Complaints, which took on a strengthened version of the role previously performed by the former Director General of Supervision and complaints service. The Department was launched on 1 October and in just three months (to 31 December), it opened 18 investigations and one inspection in situ.
The Department directs its efforts on the basis of alerts logged by other units of the Bank of Spain, by public and private institutions and above all, by customer complaints. One of its operations last year involved the aforementioned analysis of complaints regarding the use of the Code of Good Practices; and another also verified that the granting of consumer credit to certain firms complied with the necessary conditions regarding transparency and customer protection. According to the supervisory body, that most recent investigation was activated as a result of a complaint “from a public body, which filed a complaint against a number of lenders”. (…).
In 2014, the Bank of Spain forced the withdrawal or rewording of 132 adverts published in the press and online. The most positive piece of data to result from the year is that customer complaints decreased for the first time since 2011, by 15%, to 29,500. Nevertheless, that still represents a near-record volume compared with the 10,000 or 15,000 claims that were typically processed in the years leading up to the outbreak of the floor clause conflict.
Original story: El Economista (by Eva Contreras)
Translation: Carmel Drake