In the first three years of President Nayib Bukele’s administration, the defense of consumer rights has played a leading role. This is demonstrated by the numbers shared by the head of the Consumer Protection Office (DC), Ricardo Salazar.
According to Salazar, only in the last three years of management, $57.2 million has been recovered in favor of 374,000 consumers, 54.47% of all that has been recovered in the history of the institution. Since 2005—the —year of the institution’s creation—they have restored about $105 million.
On the other hand, during the Bukele period, around 295,000 consumers have been served, which represents 25% of the Salvadorans that the Ombudsman has received throughout its history.
Similarly, in the last year, they have carried out 100,000 attentions, with complaints received from 260 municipalities across the country, giving them a presence in more than 97% of the country.
“These data are impressive and precisely indicate the strength, determination, and independence with which this institution is working in order to safeguard the rights of consumers,” said the official.
The president of the DC pointed out that the actions carried out have been through two mechanisms: individual cases and collective cases.
In terms of collective cases, nearly $42.2 million has been recovered. This typification refers to a conglomerate of consumers who have a common affectation. For example, there are cases of students who were charged for a graduation service that was not provided.
In addition, in the real estate area, they have dealt with processes of communities or subdivisions that paid for land but did not deliver their deed. To date, $16.6 million has been recovered in this sector in favor of 4,960 people.
Then, in complaints for household items, they have recovered $8 million, thereby benefiting 22,500 consumers. For this item, the requirement was the result of non-compliance with delivery times or failure to deliver products that the person had requested.
Lastly, due to poor internet performance or other telecommunications services, the DC was able to recover $1.4 million for 223,000 Salvadorans; and in the appliance trade, about $1 million was recovered in favor of 2,128 consumers.
“We have promoted more than 20 internal projects that have been key to improving customer service and increasing compliance with the law,” said President Salazar.
As part of the measures to alleviate the effects of the global crisis, the Ombudsman has carried out 41,000 inspections nationwide. Of this figure, 18,000 inspections correspond to the food and fertilizer sectors, and 23,000 to reviews at gas stations and points of sale of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
Apart from inspections, the institution has made 140 information requests to companies to learn about their individual processes. Likewise, Salazar reported that 40 cases are under investigation and 25 already have complaints in the Sanctioning Court.