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Claim for an essential public service: What is it and how does it work?

The provision of a public service brings a set of duties and obligations for those who provide it, but customers are not always satisfied, either with the quality of the service or the price. If you experience this situation, it is important that you know how and where make a complaint about an essential public service.Any person who uses a public service and feels that their interests have been harmed, have the right to complain. But do you know how to do it? In this article, we explain what steps to take.

What is a public service?

Public service is understood the set of activities aimed at satisfying basic needs of the population. These activities can be provided by public entities or by private or mixed entities, but always under the supervision of the State.

What are the essential public services?

There are public services considered essential, that is, services that are basic for the population in general, and consumers have a set of rights that go through the maintenance of high quality standards. Law 23/96 defines the essential public services but also the rights of users of these services. Examples of this are the following supply services: Water; Electricity; Piped natural gas and liquefied petroleum gases; Electronic communications; Postal services; Waste water collection and treatment; Solid urban waste management; Passenger transport; any of these services and is not satisfied with its quality, is entitled to file a complaint.Also read: Conflicts of consumption: learn how to avoid or resolve them

What are the obligations of essential public service providers?

Entities that provide this type of service must maintain high quality standards, especially if prices are set according to these standards. In this case, you should also consider the customer satisfaction level.The providers of essential public services also have the duty to:Inform consumers about the conditions for providing the service;Clarify them about any doubts about the rates. Furthermore, they have to send written notice in the event of suspension of supply. They cannot yet charge minimum consumption or include in the invoice amounts referring to:Price;Rental;Amortization;Periodic inspection of meters;Other measuring instruments.On the other hand, the fees to be collected can only concern the construction, conservation and maintenance of public water, sanitation and solid waste systems.The consumer of essential public services also has the right to an invoice that indicates each of the amounts charged by the supplier.Furthermore, if the invoices are more than six months old, the customer can invoke the statute of limitations. And if, for any reason, an amount lower than the consumption made has been charged, the correction request has a period of six months after payment of the initial invoice. If an amount greater than consumption is charged, theright is done on the next invoice, discounting what was overpaid. Note, whenever there are doubts regarding the service provided and the amount paid, the company will have to prove that it has fulfilled its obligations.

Claim for an essential public service: how to proceed?

First of all, if you want to make a complaint, it must be: Your identification;Dwriting detailed situation. On the other hand, if necessary, you will be able to attach documents that support your complaintsuch as: Invoice; Contract; Declaration; etc. But, if the complaint is about the service, no documents needed.

Does a claim have a cost?

Any claim you make it has no cost! In other words, there’s nothing to worry about in this matter!

Where should you file a claim for an essential public service?

In fact, for all entities you have several options to make your complaint. Find out what they are.

Service provider complaints book

This is perhaps the easiest way to file a complaint, as This complaints book is mandatory and is always available to the public, in two formats:The existence of the physical (red) book must be posted in a visible place, while the electronic one must be on the service provider’s website. Thus, you can choose any of them to file your complaint. If you choose the physical book, one of the copies remains in your possession and the original is sent to the regulatory authority, with the last copy remaining in the book. Afterwards, you will be contacted with the resolution of your complaint. But, taking into account the era of new technologies in which we live, the most practical is to use the electronic book. eBook (common to all entities). In this case, you can follow up on your complaint, sending it to the regulatory authority immediately and without the intervention of the service provider.Yet, in any entity, to file a claim, you must:Identify yourself;Indicate the name and address of the entity about which you want to complain;Indicate your tax identification number.Also read: Digital mobile key: find out which public services are online

Public service complaints book

There is also a complaints book for public services, but it is yellow and the electronic format is not required.In fact, all services must have the physical bookbut as there is no obligation to have the electronic book, you should always check if it exists, as it is more effective in submitting your complaint. Remember, you will have to indicate: Location of the entity; Type of service; Entity; Service provided for the same.


This is another place where you can make your complaint regarding a public service. Therefore, you can file your complaint in two ways:

Public service regulatory bodies

When you make your complaint in the Complaints Book, this must be sent to the regulatory authorities. Still, if you want you can file your complaint directly.In other words, you can file your complaint at:ANACOM – Telecommunications Sector Water and Waste Services Regulatory Authority (ERSAR) Regulatory Authority for Energy Services (ERSE)INFARMED – for pharmacies or pharmaceutical industry Mobility and Transport Authority (AMT)Other entitiesIn this context, you can also consider turning to entities such as DECO, an association of Consumer defense which has a platform where you can file a complaint against any entity. You can also resort to Complaint Portal. The portal is an online consumer social network that, after approving your complaint, notifies the entity against which you complained. The company is not obligated to resolve your complaint. However, as the complaint is public and visible to thousands of other portal users, these companies, for the sake of image, tend to solve the problems.

Anton Kovačić Administrator

A professional writer by day, a tech-nerd by night, with a love for all things money.

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