The Madrid City Council contracted a private company for the management of part of its traffic fine notification service which, according to several users, falsifies the receipt of these fines if they verify that there is no one at home. Associated European Motorists (AEA) affirms that they have received at least half a dozen similar complaints and the Consistory of José Luis Martínez-Almeida recognizes “some incidents” with this new company. The company admits that they have detected 32 incidences of “malpractice” although not “fraud” and affirms that it has fired an employee.
Correos turns its offices into a bazaar for large companies to make up for the drop in postal income
Javier Gutiérrez has published this Tuesday a Twitter thread that has gone viral in a matter of hours in which he says that several days ago he received a complaint for an unpaid traffic violation in his mailbox, despite the fact that he had not received the original fine . The Madrid City Council, understanding that he had given up paying the penalty, sent him a complaint with a new fine of 900 euros.
“The complaint said that I had committed a speeding violation and that I had failed to identify the driver of that violation, but I was never able to identify him because the fine had not reached me,” he explains in a telephone conversation. An initial fine of 300 euros, 150 for prompt payment, had become a complaint with a penalty of 900 euros. Several users of the same social network have reported having suffered similar situations.
Upon receiving the complaint, Gutiérrez contacted the Madrid City Council hotline. There, an official opened the file and verified that the fine appeared as received at his home and that it had been signed. “They tell me they can’t give me the name due to data protection, but I gave them my wife’s, the woman who works at home and mine and they didn’t match,” he says.
To find out the name and details of the person who signed receipt of the fine, he had to go to a City Hall office. There, the official on duty explained to her after opening her file that the notification was clearly “fraudulent.” In the file that they give him, it appears that the letter was received by a person that Gutiérrez does not know and that, as a signature, two simple lines appear. Next, he explains that they have had numerous previous problems with the company that manages these communications: “The official tells me that the company entered the contest and they did not expect it to win; that they were having a lot of problems and that they were looking at how to get out of the contract”.
Mario Arnaldo, president of the AEA, affirms that they have received at least six complaints at their headquarters for similar cases. “Many people, when they have the first news, is when it has reached them in the executive period,” he explains. Arnaldo gives an example of a case they have received, very similar to Gutiérrez: a person with a fine of 300 euros and two points on his license for a traffic violation. In the acknowledgment of receipt there is the name of a person under the inscription ’employee’, despite the fact that that person lives alone, and the DNI does not even have nine figures and one letter but six. “They sent us a notification of non-receipt through this company saying that we were not there during delivery hours, even though this is an office and we have been there since 8 in the morning,” he exemplifies. Arnaldo also complains that the network of offices to go to get the receipts is much more limited than that of Correos, the company with which the City Council worked until 2021.
Asked by this newspaper, the city’s Environment and Mobility Government Area confirms that recently part of the management of municipal postal services for sending ordinary mail, certified letters and administrative notifications “has begun to work with a new company ” and admits that there have been “some incidents”. This service depends on the Autonomous Information Technology Organization of the Madrid City Council (IAM).
“Any citizen who can prove that they have not been notified correctly, for example in the case of a traffic fine, can communicate it so that, where appropriate, the City Council can take the procedure back to the moment in which the offense occurred. incidence”, they limit themselves to explaining from the City Council. Recently, as this newspaper revealed, a court scolded the Madrid City Council for not answering citizens who appealed their traffic tickets.
The company listed in the notice is DR Post (Business Research and Development, SL, based in Barcelona). The IAM announced in 2020 the tender for a contract for the management of “certified correspondence, administrative notifications, telegrams, postage at destination, burofax and parcel” that was awarded to this company at the beginning of 2021 for a value of 16 million euros gross. The contracting table admitted the offers of three companies, among which was Correos, although this was excluded “because its offer exceeded the maximum unit bidding prices in its offer”. RD Post won the contract, as it appears in the Public Sector Contracting Platform“having presented the offer based on the best value for money”.
On its website, RD Post defines itself as the largest private postal operator in Spain and boasts of providing service to “all those corporations that need control, security and guarantee of delivery of their communications.” Its clients, as stated on its website, include city councils such as Barcelona, Valencia, Granada or Logroño, or public companies such as Televisión Española.
Asked about this situation, RD Post acknowledges that it has recorded several incidents and that it has fired an employee for this reason. “Through the quality controls carried out by RD POST, 32 incidents of this type of malpractice have been detected during this period, never fraud or anything similar, of which 23 corresponded to the same address and were managed again without any harm to the recipient, and 9 were poorly managed (0.0005% of the documents managed), having proceeded immediately to the disciplinary dismissal of the employee, and RD POST reserving the appropriate legal and/or criminal actions for those involved”, explains in a statement. “We would like the facts to be placed in their true context, and even acknowledging that there may have been some specific case of poorly managed notification, it is still an exception in the number of procedures carried out daily, and for this reason it cannot fall into the mistake of discrediting the vast majority of employees”, adds the company.
“Rains, it pours”
The company is part of the AL Group, founded in 2003 by Salvador Cambló Moyano. This businessman from Malaga already had problems in 1999 with the Santander City Council due to a similar problem. Cambló was then the person in charge of the company School of Training and Social Assistance, SL (EFAS), with which the municipal government had signed a contract for the notification of the fines. The City Council denounced at least 50 forgeries and asked the company for explanations, which fired an employee. as can be read in a chronicle of El País of that year, EFAS sources attributed the forgery of the signatures “to the narrow salary margin of the employees and the need to cover a minimum of notifications to get a bonus”. Before his time as a businessman, Cambló was an official of the Diputación de Málaga.
The Madrid City Council, although it acknowledges “incidents”, does not confirm that it is considering breaking the contract with the company and simply offers users the possibility of communicating it to restart the process, as Gutiérrez did. “I asked for the file to be sent to me, I made a statement of allegations and I received the original fine and all the documentation,” he explains. “There are people who don’t know what to do and you upset them. It’s 900 euros, almost the minimum wage. Imagine a family that you run that amount on because they don’t know how to make claims or where that comes from,” he adds.
Arnaldo, from the AEA, asks the City Council to provide “guarantees” that the process of sending fines is “clean”, despite its outsourcing. “It is not worth saying that it is a specific case. What checks are being made on the company to verify that the signatures it says it has received are real? ”, He insists. The president of the association also recalls that on this issue he already “rains pours”.
It means to the precedent that the Madrid City Council had in 1996, when there was another attempt to outsource these services that went wrong, during the mandate of José María Álvarez del Manzano (PP). The Consistory then ceded the fine notification service to the North American company Electronic Data Systems (EDS) which, through irregularities such as witnesses or false signatures, left a hole of nearly 2,000 million pesetas for unpaid fines, according to the analysis they subsequently made. City Council technicians.