As an American expat/immigrant living in Portugal, I am continually rating the services I receive in Lisboa by the level I would receive in New York City. It’s not fair. Lo sé. But, it’s hard not to compare the Big Apple with my new home, but it’s what we do. If a waiter is rude, I compare it to the immaculate service at Delmonico’s. If a taxi driver goes the long way (they always do – just take an Uber) I think about the Yellow cabs who cheat tourists by taking the long way from JFK to Manhattan. If my local shopkeeper takes 15 minutes to help me (after I get cut off by a tia de Cascais), I am reminded of IKEA in Elizabeth across the river.
In New York/NJ when you have bad service, you grumble. You say F*U and walk out. You will flat out call someone on their lies because heck – they’re lying. Then you never to give business to that establishment again. Nowadays, most people will go on review sites like FriendsEAT to leave a review. Aquí en Portugal, it’s different. Here you have a different kind of power. It’s called the Complaint Book or Livro de Reclamações.
HOW TO USE THE PORTUGUESE COMPLAINT BOOK
When stuff begins to go south with a business in Portugal, but it a shop/store/hotel/taxi/bar ask for the complaint book.
Queria o livro de reclamações, se faz favor. (Please can I see the the complaint book).
Generalmente, this will cause the owner to be taken aback and ask why. You do not have to answer, but they legally have to get the book for you. If they do not, you do have the right to call 112 (that’s Portugal’s 911) or contact the police. If this is the case, the business can be fined up to 15,000€. It is in their best interest to freely offer the complaint book.
Generalmente, what happens is that once you ask for the complaint book, the manager will try to resolve the issue at hand. This is really the best way to go, otherwise you’ll have to wait a while for resolution from regulatory bodies. If he/she does not, here’s what you need to do:
When you get the book, begin filling out the form with your complaint. You will need to provide the following information:
- your full name
- where you reside
- your complaint
Can I Use The Complaint Book If I Am Not Portuguese?
Yup. It’s okay if you are not a resident of Portugal or even live if you don’t in the city. This is the right of all individuals doing a financial transaction with a business.
Tips For Using the Portuguese Complaint Book
Try to be as unemotional as possible when filling out the form. Provide only the facts and small bits of detail so that you can be effective. A neutral and polite tone of voice is best.
The business will also be able to enter their side of the story. So let them write what they want.
What Happens After You Fill Out The Portuguese Complaint Book
- The business must give you a duplicate
- A Triplicate will stay inside the book
- The original will stay with the business, but they are obligated by law to send it to the authorities within 10 days of it being filled out.
- After 10 days of the receipt of the complaint, the regulatory agency will decide on it and inform both you and the business of their decision.
What Happens If You Decide Not to File A Complaint After You Have Started
No big deal. Write “Reclamaçao anulada” on the sheet and sign it.
How Not to Use the Portuguese Complaint Book
This book is not where you go to write that your meal sucked. Leave that for review sites. This is where you to complain that you were seriously overcharged, defrauded, or cheated.
There is now an web version of the Livro de Reclamações
Yup. You can access the web version here. You can complain even about public services like water, electricity, natural gas,electronic communications, postal services, wastewater collection
The service I want to complain about is not in the Livro de Reclamacoes
There are a few entities that are not subject to the complaint book. Here are a few:
Veterinary Medical Centres: You need to go to the ASAE.
Public Offices: For example the GNR, Câmaras Municipais – ask for the Livro Amarelo (yellow book).
I loved my service and want to leave a good review.
Ask for the Livro de Elogios.