Consumer protection boost

A new law is set to rectify a financial anomaly that has led to thousands of complaints from Portuguese customers to consumer protection groups. The problems stems from current legislation which states that at the moment, the purchase of a major item, such a car, via a loan from a financial institution, carries certain obligations. If, for example, a few days later the buyer discovered his new car has a defect and decides to return it to the vendor, he is still technically obliged to continue paying the loan until he has settled with the lender. This situation has led to thousands of complaints to consumer group DECO (the Association for the Defence of Consumers). Now the government has decided that the existing legislation “has been unable to guarantee consumers an effective defence of their consumer rights in the sphere of credit.” All this is going to change if, as expected, the new law is approved. The new decree stipulates that if a customer believes that his contract with the vendor has not been properly fulfilled (for example because an item is faulty), he can stop paying the instalments of the loan without being sued in court by financial institutions. “The decision to clarify the law is fundamental because doubts regarding this kind of credit have been the origin of thousands of complaints made annually to DECO,” says spokesperson Natália Nunes.