Consumer Law in Colombia – Mechanisms of Consumer Protection

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The consumer in Colombia

The consumer is any person who purchases goods and contracts services. Consumers have certain duties and rights that must be taken into account in consumer relations and that cannot be waived. The rights of consumers are regulated in the Consumer Statute and are as follows:

  • Obtain good quality products and services.
  • Receive clear and sufficient information about the products and services purchased.
  • Comprehensive repair of damages generated due to the poor quality or operation of goods and services acquired.
  • Protection against abusive clauses.
  • Protection against misleading advertising.
  • To decide freely on the products and services purchased.
  • To be heard by those with legal decision-making functions.
  • Obtain answers to their claims.
  • To be represented (when necessary) when filing claims.
  • Access to mass media to obtain or provide information on products and services.
  • Receive advice on consumption, rights and mechanisms to enforce them.
  • Protection against risks that may affect their health and/or safety.
  • Obtain a prompt response to administrative actions.

Consumer protection

Consumer protection is the set of rules that regulate the relationships between consumers, producers, suppliers and retailers and seek to protect persons (natural or legal) who purchase products and services. These regulations deal with various issues such as personal data protection, telecommunications, faulty or low-quality products, breach of warranties, problems in the provision of services, misleading information, among others.

Consumers may enforce their rights by filing complaints or lawsuits, depending on the specific case, with the following entities:

  • Superintendency of Industry and Commerce(SIC): is the entity in charge of watching over the rights of consumers and is empowered to impose sanctions on those who do not comply with the regulations.
  • Consumer Ombudsman’s Office: is an entity in charge of promoting the defense and protection of consumers’ rights. Provides consumers with advice and guidance on issues related to their rights.

Consumers may also have recourse to court proceedings to resolve disputes or to consumer arbitration. Consumer arbitration is an out-of-court mechanism for resolving disputes arising in consumer relations.

Consumer arbitration is a voluntary and free mechanism and can therefore be requested by any person who has a dispute with a company in connection with a consumer relationship. The parties involved in the conflict will be mediated by a third party called a conciliator, who will issue an arbitration award, which is a kind of judgment issued by the conciliation centers and becomes res judicata. When the dispute does not involve an amount greater than 40 legal monthly minimum wages in force, the consumer does not need to hire a lawyer or pay fees to the conciliator or the conciliation center, since it is a social arbitration.

During 2020 the SIC received 302,605 complaints from consumers mainly on issues of online purchases, problems in the provision of public services, telecommunications and warranties and imposed 1,258 sanctions mainly on issues of misleading advertising, breach of warranties and protection of personal data.

In the same year, 3,841 consumer arbitration hearings were held, 80% of which were resolved in favor of the consumer, and the judicial branch received 24,080 consumer protection lawsuits.