Consumer Protection Agency in Buenos Aires

jantango

Registered
In my first case with the noisy neighbor, she appeared for the first mediation session, but ignored those scheduled for follow-up. My case was closed by the Ministerio Publico Fiscal, and enough time passed that they refused to consider reopening it. I was appointed a lawyer in the case, and I didn't pay anything during the entire ordeal. My neighbor occasionally continued to test my patience with her loud talking, barking dogs, and late night television viewing (she is deaf and wears a hearing aide), but eventually settled down after 14 years. At the beginning of winter 2018, she installed a new air-conditioning/heating unit on the outside wall of the building just below my bedroom window without obtaining prior approval from the consorcio. I informed our new administrator who ignored my request that she intervene. I then wrote the neighbor about the new apparatus which turns on for five minutes, then off for five. The vibrations and noise interrupted my sleep. There are city laws about noise level limits in residential areas. I hear it operating when I'm in my living room. My email to her received a threatening response, typical from a bully. I'll present it as evidence if I decide to proceed with a mediation against her.

The mediation notices are legal notices from the government that cannot be ignored. After an initial meeting, both parties sign a written agreement that is drafted by mediators. Both parties are required to appear at a future meeting with the mediation lawyer to confirm whether the party has complied with the terms of the agreement. Only then is the case closed.

Administrators of consorcios must comply with the laws established by the city. Too many of them get away with doing nothing for consorcios except preparing monthly expense reports and collecting the money. They don't answer phone calls or emails from owners. They take commissions from work projects they arrange. Once I read what the administrator was supposed to do, it was easy to file a complaint citing what she is not doing. My complaint was taken seriously by the consumer protection agency. I will know how serious the administrator is about her work at the hearing on October 30.
 
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earlyretirement

Registered
In my first case with the noisy neighbor, she appeared for the first mediation session, but ignored those scheduled for follow-up. My case was closed by the Ministerio Publico Fiscal, and enough time passed that they refused to consider reopening it. I was appointed a lawyer in the case, and I didn't pay anything during the entire ordeal. My neighbor occasionally continued to test my patience with her loud talking, barking dogs, and late night television viewing (she is deaf and wears a hearing aide), but eventually settled down after 14 years. At the beginning of winter 2018, she installed a new air-conditioning/heating unit on the outside wall of the building just below my bedroom window without obtaining prior approval from the consorcio. I informed our new administrator who ignored my request that she intervene. I then wrote the neighbor about the new apparatus which turns on for five minutes, then off for five. The vibrations and noise interrupted my sleep. There are city laws about noise level limits in residential areas. I hear it operating when I'm in my living room. My email to her received a threatening response, typical from a bully. I'll present it as evidence if I decide to proceed with a mediation against her.

The mediation notices are legal notices from the government that cannot be ignored. After an initial meeting, both parties sign a written agreement that is drafted by mediators. Both parties are required to appear at a future meeting with the mediation lawyer to confirm whether the party has complied with the terms of the agreement. Only then is the case closed.

Administrators of consorcios must comply with the laws established by the city. Too many of them get away with doing nothing for consorcios except preparing monthly expense reports and collecting the money. They don't answer phone calls or emails from owners. They take commissions from work projects they arrange. Once I read what the administrator was supposed to do, it was easy to file a complaint citing what she is not doing. My complaint was taken seriously by the consumer protection agency. I will know how serious the administrator is about her work at the hearing on October 30.
I have to give you great credit jantango. You sound like a really patient person. That sounds like a great program if you're not billed anything. But I guess what you mentioned with her showing up for the first mediation and then not showing up again or answering and then them closing the case and reopening it. That's more or less what I'd expect and what I was referring to. That's the most frustrating thing about living in BA is that people can 'game' the system and there isn't much recourse. But it's AWESOME that they paid for the lawyer during the case.

I think there is more recourse with administrators vs. individual neighbors because if they want to keep doing business then they probably can't have any issues. But even then I've seen companies changing names and operating under a new company. There are a lot of shady things as well. In past buildings where I own, I've seen people on the board referring friends and getting kickbacks, over billing, non-action, phantom bills and many other things.

Thanks for taking the time to post follow up answers as it's really educational.
 

B52

Registered
EarltRetirement:
Perdoname for saying this:
I know you´re good, but Damn it you´re right again.
Well, I tried so hard to impress you I was the one and only senior frequent flyer on this board.
 
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earlyretirement

Registered
EarltRetirement:
Perdoname for saying this:
I know you´re good, but Damn it you´re right again.
Well, I tried so hard to impress you I was the one and only senior frequent flyer on this board.
This is one of those cases B52 that I was hoping that I was wrong and someone could post an example of something efficient and working. But unfortunately the way the system is set up in Argentina it's really difficult to get satisfaction judicially when you are wronged or have a dispute.

I still think it's great that jantango took the time to post it and I applaud the city for even having the initiative. It's a good start but my biggest complaint would be that like the old difficult lady in the previous thread who never showed back up. They just closed the case. That sounds like par for the course.
 

B52

Registered
ER:
To "over compensate" my mediocre contribution:
I´ll attack you pretending to defend someone else. Someone you respect and did not attack.
 
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GMXam

Registered
Our building had an administrator for one year who did nothing for us, and robbed us. She didn't respond to my emails asking questions about our building issues. I wanted to file a complaint against her, but I didn't know where to go. In early March we voted her removed as administrator. She was supposed to turn over all our records over in ten days, but took her sweet time so she could charge us for another month of doing nothing. A complaint against her had to be made while she was still our administrator. I missed my big opportunity to do so.

I have yet to talk with an apartment owner in any building who says they have an outstanding administrator that handles things in a timely matter and keeps the owners informed. Administrators manage too many buildings to make more income, so attention to detail and good communication with consorcios is impossible. One meeting with owners each year is all they have time for.

Our new administrator took over in late March when we signed a motion appointing her at a special meeting. She let the previous administrator take weeks to turn over our records, so our consorcio was basically unable to operate. We had no access to our bank account nor any idea of the balance. She, too, ignored my emails about things that needed attention in our building. The previous owner's council resigned, and there were no one willing to sign up. I tried to keep the lines of communication open on what we needed done in the building. The monthly liquidation showed that there was no payment for fire insurance which is mandatory. The emergency lights in the hallways haven't worked in years. The fire extinguishers expired in July. The administrator was not doing her job. The book of owners was not complete, so technically voting at a meeting was illegal unless a signature appeared in it. I asked to see the previous year's receipts and got no response from her. I started researching the law online about what administrators in the city are obligated to do. Ours was getting away with mismanagement from the start.

Administrators have responsibilities which are clearly set forth in the law. If they don't complete them, an owner or renter has the right to file a complaint, which is what I did. I went to Comuna 3 offices where I talked with a woman handling consumer issues. (She lived in California and Puerto Rico for years, so much of our conversation was in English.) I provided copies of my unanswered emails to the administrator. I completed the required form indicating the areas which our administrator has not complied. The city website provides all the information for this process. I provided my DNI and a photocopy, a copy of my electric bill, and documentation to prove my case against her. I was given an appointment on October 30 with the staff lawyer who will handle the matter. The notice will be mailed to the administrator. I am looking for answers why our administrator has been so unresponsive to taking care of business for our building and knowing whether she is interested in improving. The last liquidation indicated making payments of expenses to her bank account, so I withheld payment. The consorcio has/had a bank account with Santander Rio opened by the previous administrator.

I'm posting to share the information because there are certainly others who are dissatisfied with their administrators as I am. It's common to do nothing and put up with business as usual. Administrators continue collecting their monthly salary for doing as little as possible and are never available by phone. I will update the thread after my Oct 30 meeting with the lawyer and our administrator.

Here is the place to start: http://www.buenosaires.gob.ar/defensaconsumidor/administradores-de-consorcios/que-pueden-denunciar-los-consorcistas

Compliance with the administrator's obligations:

Lack of administrator registration.
It does not execute the decisions adopted by the assembly of the owners in the terms of execution required of the administrator.
It does not carry out the conservation of the common parts, not safeguarding the security of the building according to the current regulations.
Lack of contracting of compulsory insurance.
It does not carry in due form the compulsory books of the consortium.
It does not keep the supporting documentation of the consortium's suppliers.
It does not guarantee the free access of the documentation and / or the obligatory books to the consortiums.
Failure to report to the competent authority any unregulated situation and the works executed in the building that it administers without the respective work permit or without notice of work.
No bank account in the name of the consortium of owners where the funds are deposited.
Lack of convocation to the ordinary or extraordinary assembly in time and form according to the consortium's co-ownership regulation.
Failure to return the expired books within 10 days in case of resignation, cessation or removal
Breach of the requirements demanded in the bills of payment of expenses
Failure to submit proof of registration in the ordinary or extraordinary meeting at the time of appointment.
The manager hires suppliers of products or services that do not meet the mandatory requirements, for example when hiring a gas supplier who is not enrolled.

If your administrator isn't complying with any item on this list, you have the right to make a claim with the consumer protection agency.
Keep us posted. Although my own experiences have encouraged me to adjust my expectations with regard to efficiency, I’m hoping you have a successful outcome with this issue. It’s one that could affect anyone, and a ray of light indicating more accountability would be great.

I wonder if a website, similar “Rate My Professor” in the US, geared toward rating service providers in AR would be utilized by Argentines. One that could also tackle the issue of changing business names/entities by linking the owners and/or management teams, if known. It would also have to tackle the use of paid reviews or fake reviews, like amazon is having to do. In any case, it is something I would refer to if it existed. Even if a site like this ultimately never came up, it would be helpful to see the list of service providers with good ratings separated from those with bad ratings somewhere (maybe here in BAexpats?).
 

earlyretirement

Registered
i think that is definitely needed. something like angie's list.
Yes, something like this would in theory be a good idea. The problem is in first world, efficient countries where there are checks and balances and a working judicial system and also things like Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Small Claims Court, etc. In Argentina there is nothing like this where you can quickly and easily have some recourse/remedy.

If such a service existed in Buenos Aires, you would have the opposite of what you see on AngiesList where it's mostly great providers. Instead there are probably more companies/individuals that either are unethical or unreliable long-term. So you'd be reading through endless amounts of bad reviews and scams. It would be like the reverse Angie'sList system. And even the few gems you found would probably at some point turn on you as well.

The biggest problem that I've encountered in Buenos Aires is it's very difficult to find someone that over the long-term will be reliable and dependable and not rip you off eventually. People there just don't think long-term and mostly would jeopardize a long-term relationship if they can somehow make more today. They are very short-sighted. I've seen this across many, many industries so not just one specific industry or field/profession.

About the only profession where I've had reliable and ethical and dependable service are my accountant and my lawyer. Which are two of the most important people to have on your side in Argentina. If I had to to have any profession in Argentina I think it would be an accountant or Escribano. Talk about job security! Believe it or not but probably not far down the list if I was single with no kids would be a Portero (doorman) in a fancy building.

Some of these guys that have been working in a building for decades retire with a great pension. Plus they have a free place to live. I've been in several of these Portero's flats and some of them are quite nice.
 
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GMXam

Registered
The problem is in first world, efficient countries where there are checks and balances and a working judicial system and also things like Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, Small Claims Court, etc. In Argentina there is nothing like this where you can quickly and easily have some recourse/remedy.
The point of a "Rate My Professor" website is not to have some recourse. It is to spread the word about the good and the bad in order for consumers to make more informed choices. The real problem with this is the social aspect of recommendations by relationship...you are more likely to receive better service from a service provider that knows someone you know. This type of site would be bypassing the relationship, which I think is actually what motivates the service provider to provide good service.

The biggest problem that I've encountered in Buenos Aires is it's very difficult to find someone that over the long-term will be reliable and dependable and not rip you off eventually. People there just don't think long-term and mostly would jeopardize a long-term relationship if they can somehow make more today. They are very short-sighted. I've seen this across many, many industries so not just one specific industry or field/profession.
Wow, that sucks for you. I've found more reliable and dependable people than I have the opposite, but that may be due to the relationships I've established early on who have gone out of their way to provide insight to me of reliable service people. Frankly, I think I've been ripped off for more money in the US than I have here. Regardless of the existence of BBB, Chamber of Commerce, and Small Claims Court, social media has proven to be more effective in gaining recourse for me in the US for the handful of times I exercised its use.

Here, I think you are better to work within the social norms...i.e. make Argentine friends, find out who everyone uses for "X" service or ask how they would handle "X" issue. They're likely to make a recommendation and allow you to say they suggested you contact them. Gotta be social in this country.
 

earlyretirement

Registered
The point of a "Rate My Professor" website is not to have some recourse. It is to spread the word about the good and the bad in order for consumers to make more informed choices. The real problem with this is the social aspect of recommendations by relationship...you are more likely to receive better service from a service provider that knows someone you know. This type of site would be bypassing the relationship, which I think is actually what motivates the service provider to provide good service.



Wow, that sucks for you. I've found more reliable and dependable people than I have the opposite, but that may be due to the relationships I've established early on who have gone out of their way to provide insight to me of reliable service people. Frankly, I think I've been ripped off for more money in the US than I have here. Regardless of the existence of BBB, Chamber of Commerce, and Small Claims Court, social media has proven to be more effective in gaining recourse for me in the US for the handful of times I exercised its use.

Here, I think you are better to work within the social norms...i.e. make Argentine friends, find out who everyone uses for "X" service or ask how they would handle "X" issue. They're likely to make a recommendation and allow you to say they suggested you contact them. Gotta be social in this country.
I get what you're saying about "Rate my Professor". I just don't think they would work well there. I'm glad you've had such good luck with dependable people. I'm not saying I didn't find dependable people. Just that over time they have disappointed. Strange you've gotten ripped off so much in the USA. With all the reputable review websites I've never gotten ripped off in the USA.

And yes I do have many Argentine friends but with the scale of projects could never find enough good people. Hey, that's great you've had so many great experiences there with vendors. You should assemble them all together and make a referral website. :p You could make a fortune.
 
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