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Naming and shaming! PDF
Friday, 18 February 2011 00:00

Over a year ago I wrote a piece (Adiós to Mañana!) extolling the virtues of Spanish bureaucracy and praising the speed of, among other things, acquiring residence, getting on the padrón, making an insurance claim, getting a central heating quote and dealing with death.... I speculated that maybe the culture of mañana was a thing of the past. How wrong could I be?

In the last few weeks I’ve had nothing but hassle from three of the biggest companies in Spain: Movistar/Telefónica, Endesa and Repsol. It’s time to name and shame!


We moved house two weeks ago. I ordered a telephone line from the monopoly supplier Movistar (née Telefónica) on 28 January. I was advised that it would take a week, ie by 4 February we would have service, the day before we were due to move in. Perfect, I thought. Well .....

Two weeks later we’re still waiting! Despite phoning them every other day to check progress, I’ve been stunned by the incompetence of this national company.

First of all their service in English is a waste of time – I thought I’d make life easier. Forget it: their English speakers wouldn’t have passed O-Level!  So, now using Spanish, I get fobbed off with a range of excuses:

“We’ve been trying to call you, sir, but can’t reach you!” “Which number have you been ringing?” “NNNNNNNNN”. “That’s not the number I gave you!”

One day last week they rang me, but only to tell me what our new number would be. When I tried to save it in my mobile, it came up as a number already in my mobile’s phonebook, that of a friend! They’d given me someone else’s number which was already in use! That it was a friend’s number was a scary coincidence.

An engineer phoned last Monday to say he’d be connecting us that morning. He rang back later to say he’d been to the exchange only to find that the line had not been activated! I would need to ring Customer Service and tell them. So I did. They apologised for the error, and promised service within 48 hours. That deadline came and went on Wednesday.  I rang again. “Sorry, sir, an engineer will ring you within the next two days ...” That deadline is up today. If they don’t meet it, it will be next week before anything happens. Grrr!


I helped a friend try to sort out a problem with Endesa, the electricity supply company. It involved getting a boletín of electrical safety from an electrician, which cost 100 euros and was wrong the first time round; two trips to Endesa; four to Eléctrica Serranía, a sub-contractor; the installation of a new meter cupboard to comply with some petty new regulation; and umpteen phone calls back and forth before the problem was finally resolved.


Repsol are the gas supplier for a comunidad in Ronda. Several dwellings in the community couldn’t get a decent supply of hot water last week. A gas engineer was called who identified the problem – a lack of gas pressure from the gas tank in the garden. He rang the Repsol emergency number last Friday to call them out. The earliest they could send someone is today – a week later! So much for an emergency service! What about the poor families who can’t get enough hot water to bath, shower or wash up? I wonder if they’ll turn up today ...

Good news

On the other hand, there is some good news. The local heating oil supplier, intriguingly a Repsol franchise, came with a delivery within two hours of us calling. The local log man is coming with a truckload of logs later today. The lawnmower repair man fixed my mower within three working days.

I just wish we could get a phone line .....

© Paul Whitelock

See also:

Adiós to Mañana!

Dealing with death

Getting on the padrón

Understanding your Spanish electricity bill

Tags:  Adiós to mañana, residence, getting on the padrón, making an insurance claim, dealing with death, mañana, Movistar, Telefónica, Endesa, Repsol, boletín, Eléctrica Serranía, paul whitelock,


Paul Whitelock

Paul is a Joint Honours graduate in Spanish and German, a qualified teacher (PGCE) and has a Member of the Institute of Linguists (MIL) qualification.

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