Things I Don’t Understand about Spain, Part 1

I’m starting a new series to talk about some of the stuff I just don’t get about Spain. There are lots of things I do love and get about Spain (see: food, wine, walking, no tipping), but there are others that just cause me to scratch my head.

So, let’s start off the series with one I see almost every day.

Why do Spanish companies charge customers to call them?

“Buy our product! Just call this toll-free 902 number!”

For example, Mario and I received a present, which was a gift of a night’s stay at a hotel near a winery, anywhere in Spain. For most of them, you got a free tasting somewhere, a tour of a nearby winery, and a breakfast buffet. Sweet, right? Well, to reserve it, they require you to call them—at a 902 number! What? You’re making me pay to pay you? Really?

All sorts of companies do this, even the ones trying to sell you stuff on television. You would think they’d want to cover at least their part of the call so that they could get you talking and perhaps buying. Nope! They want you to pay your part and theirs. This definitely encourages people to call and buy. (Nope.)

I was having problems with our router recently, and Movistar, our Internet provider, lists their number … and, yep, you guessed it! It’s a 902 as well.

Does anyone else just not understand this phenomenon?

11 thoughts on “Things I Don’t Understand about Spain, Part 1

  1. Crazy that you post about this, I just found this out yesterday! I didn’t even know 902 numbers charged, I figured 902 was the Spanish version of 1-800. False. I needed to activate my debit card, so I asked a Spanish friend to call, not knowing that I was actually asking him to pay a bunch of money to make this call for me. #nowilooklikeanasshole. However, he didn’t call that number, he went into google and found the equivalent of the number on some website…apparently everyone just googles the free equivalent of the number? It seems kind of sketchy…but if Spaniards do it that way then it can’t be that sketch, right?

    1. Yes, most Spaniards know a website to find the free number (which they all have, by the way!). I’m sure he assumed you didn’t know. Who would know?!

      1. It is really strange though! I imagine then that many companies don’t get as many disgruntled callers! I have called my fair share of 1-800 numbers to complain about messed up phone bills, false charges to credit cards, etc…I am sure I would just go into the store to sort things out if I had to pay to make the phone call!

  2. I just google the 902 + “free number”. There are some sites where you can find full listings. It’s mandatory by law to have the free number but they try to hide it so you pay! I hate it too.

  3. …. and the banks charge you too which I am not used to. We have free banking options in the UK when your account is in credit. Customer focus in Spain is generally well behind the times, in my humble opinion.

  4. 902 numbers in Spain is just a huge rip off. it’s incredible that the government does not act against these companies. the worst by far are the airlines (a call to Vueling is more expensive than a menu del dia!).

    there are some webs (something like “no mas 902”) that provide the alternative free number. sometimes these free numbers work (I use the one for ING)

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