Living in Spain, warts and all


A quick mid-week post, if I may.

Or rant, rather. I do apologise if I’m becoming a crashing bore about the subject of opening a business in Spain and the impossibilities thereof, but I feel the world should know. Besides which, if I don’t hammer this into my keyboard to relieve the tension then my head will surely explode.

Today was the day of the sound testing in the new kennels. This, you may recall, is one of the absurd conditions that I am obliged to fulfil before the ayuntamiento will grant me my licencia de apertura.

So yesterday the firm I have paid to carry out the tests duly notified the Medioambiente (environment) powers-that-be 24 hours in advance, as required, and at 16:30 today I went to meet the engineer at the motorway exit to guide them in.

As we parked up at the barns and exchanged greetings and pleasantries, Inma (the engineer) commented that it was really quiet, and that she couldn’t actually hear any dogs.

“Errrr,” I said, trying to realign the cogs in my fast-fading brain. “That’ll be because it’s not open yet.”

She looked at me all cock-eyed. “But I spoke to the oficina técnica in Bullas last week to ascertain exactly what tests they require me to carry out. They said I was to test the noise of dogs you have in there!”

“But I can’t have dogs in there until I have the licence to open, and I can’t get that without the tests!!”

She looked perplexed. After some consideration, she then suggested that we could do one of two things. We could put my four dogs in the kennels for the night, measure their noise levels and extrapolate. Or she could go away and speak to the oficina técnica again tomorrow to enquire how exactly they wanted to test a business not yet open.

If we opt for the former, it would expedite matters but there is a possibility that they won’t be content with it and may ask for a second test (another 700€ cost to me!).  If we follow the second course of action, I will have to pay around 50€ for the extra journey undertaken by the engineer and the process will take longer. Of course, I should be able to look to the ayuntamiento to foot that, shouldn’t I?. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA JAJAJAJAJAJAJA (manic laughter in both english and spanish).

I asked if the instruction she had been given by the oficina técnica were verbal or written.

“Oh, verbal only,” she laughed. “Nobody in Spain writes things down if they can avoid it.”

It’s a no-brainer, then. I’ll pay the extra 50€ and she can challenge the oficina técnica tomorrow about their specific requirements. In writing. To be fair, bless her, she did say she’d accelerate the reporting to compensate for the delay.

About five minutes after she’d left, the policía local arrived to oversee the test (high national risk again, obviously) so I had to send them packing, too.

So the ayuntamiento have set me a circular problem. No licence, no dogs – no dogs, no test – no test, no licence.

They either have the brain of an amoeba or they are fiendishly clever. What do you reckon?


Comments on: "Un-bloody-believable" (24)

  1. Amoebic brain – this is the same Ayuntamiento who took 6 weeks to update my empadronamiento, subsequently lost it, reissued it and christened me with a new middle name.

    Need I say more?

  2. As a former bean counter myself, my sole purpose in life was to make it as difficult as possible for decent folk to earn an honest crust, I don’t know what your problem is (only kidding). Just sounds plain daft to me. Wouldn’t have happened in my day. Hang on in there!

    • Amongst the list of replies to this on FaceAche is one from a friend with a bar on the coast. She informs me that it took five years and endless ridiculous requests before her licence was granted.
      Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ……………………..

  3. I´m really glad you´re putting all this down for everybody to see since if I tried to tell any unsuspecting half-normal person that this sort of stuff goes on all the time they wouldn´t believe you. No, they´re not clever, they´re a total fu**ing cock-up from beginning to end! I hope it all works out very soon.

    • If only the politicians would take note, huh?
      I’m ready and willing to pay taxes, for all the gods’ sake. Although a little thing like not being open yet hasn’t, of course, prevented them from helping themselves to my payments of seguridad social ….

  4. Ha, I´ve just seen how big the word “licence” is on your tag cloud! Along with “fiesta”. What a country!

  5. Oh incredibly, extraordinarily fiendishly clever by half! Seriously, 700 euros for a sound test, with local police overseeing it all? You cannot script this stuff. Can. Not. Script. This. My sympathies are with you (and your 4 dogs, expected to make the sounds of a larger pack).

    • I think you are utterly correct, Linda. It’s easy to assume that they are just bureaucratic mindless airheads, because their actions suggest exactly that to normal-thinking people like us (pause for titters .. )
      But I’m with you – these are clever and devious delaying tactics, with a sprinkling of mental torture stirred in.
      The burning question, though is why??

      Why are the Spanish authorities, running a country with such grave financial problems, so reluctant to allow entrepreneurs to trade, contribute, employ? It beggars belief.

      And yes – I’m covering it in a blog. The feedback I’m receiving is that this sort of thing is happening to everyone out there, but is not generally being reported like this. It really does
      beggar belief!

  6. Av and Iain said:

    What was the point of the intended white noise test if there was to be a full complement of guests in the dog mansion (kennel is too down market for your establishment)? They would become demented and be barking their heads off! It is jaw droppingly unbelievable. If there is nothing in writing then presumably no one can be blamed if SOMEONE complains after the sound certificate had been granted.

    • Ah – the white noise test. I did, of course, tackle Inma about this. She informed me that actually it is a pink noise test (!!) but that the oficina técnica specifically instructed her to test according to la ley 7*? de 2007, which covers noise emitted by animals. Presumably all will be revealed today. Then again ….

  7. Fiendishly clever 😉

  8. J and I are lucky enough to have a Turkish ‘son’ who is a pretty high-ranking bureaucrat – when faced with a serious brick wall such as the customs at Izmir (Turkey’s biggest and most corrupt port) I called him. ‘Is the bureaucrat with you now -give him your phone.’ The effect was electric! We even had the general manager arrive on scene to smooth our way and the applause of a great many Turks who were delighted that someone had got one over on the a#*e holes!
    Keep on truckin’ Debs – ‘Nil illigitimus carborandum’ (or words to that effect) and all that!
    ps I really did enjoy the book 😀

    • Don’t think they’ll necessarily grind me down, but they are definitely undermining the sub-structure by slow erosion!

      So good (and bad) to hear that you have a pocket bureaucrat on board – great, as you say, to be able to outrank the tosspots, but terrible that it is a basic requirement if any progress is to be achieved.

      Thanks for your support of Bitten by Spain (the book and blog!). The re-issued addition (published this time by the immensely pro-active Summertime Publishing) with go-faster stripes should be out this coming month – I’ll send you a signed copy (how pretentious does that sound??)

  9. Last year when I requested to be on the Registro de Operadores Intercomunitarios (to avoid paying & invoicing VAT abroad) I had to send a whole dossier as to why I wanted to be on the register (even including my CV!). Any funcionario who had taken the trouble to see what my business was about would never have bothered asking.

    But after 1 year of dutifully paying my social security dues and the Gestor, I’m thinking of doing everything cash-in-hand from now on.

    By the way, having been a civil servant myself back in the UK (many, many years ago) many here still need to know what the “real world” is like.

    Good luck (and patience!).

    • Yes, it’s sorely tempting. And all this makes it quite obvious why there is such a HUGE market en negro in Spain. Trouble is, my revered neighbour is such an almighty pain that I can’t even fart without him reporting me, so working cash-in-hand could never be an option for me.
      I had my own accountancy and taxation practice in the UK – I know how picky funcionarios can be – but for the love of Dog, how does this country run?

      • When I’m feeling evil (happens often, I’m 46 – a difficult age!) I enjoy making people’s jaws drop in Spain by telling them how you can set up a 100% legal business in the UK online in a few minutes for less than 100 quid and how social security works there.

        When you see how Spanish people react to that, they realise that something isn’t quite right here. But what really annoys me is to see the smiling faces of the representatives of the “Asociación de Autónomos” (don’t know the exact name) applauding the new government measures when nothing has been done to remove the main obstacle to becoming freelance in the first place.

      • 46 is a great age! Try 53 and cranky and very pee´d off!

        I find that most Spaniards don’t actually understand the whole concept here and so cannot take on board the yawning differences that exist between here and the UK with regard to business / taxes / social security / advertising / customer care / etc etc ad nauseam ….

        As for the new measures, I have commented before that it can only lead to tears – they may fast track the licences but the requirements remain as onerous and are likely to lead to huge fines for non-compliance after the event.

  10. Reminds me of the “final” piece of paper I was told I needed to get the proper licence for Casa La Celada as a B&B … I had to have an architect plan drawn up at a huge cost with some possible changes made. Seemed fine, so I asked “does that guarantee that I will then be able to have the necessary paper?”

    No … Maybe, maybe not.

    A 6,000€ punt?

    FFS …….

    • Don’t even start me on that one. One day I’ll post about my attempts to get my name on the catastro and the money I’ve spent on architects …

  11. There’s so much of these horror stories doing the rounds it is necessary to keep raising their awareness and profile until they are used to levy the Spanish through embarrassment into change. It seams Spain has an insular selfish negative prohibitive culture towards new business. Too many layers of red tape and idiots in the wrong jobs for the wrong reasons.

    • One big problem, as I see it, is that although we joke about the fact that it is one man, one job here, we are not in fact joking. Roles are so delineated and non-interchangeable that if the one person responsible for a given task is not available, it doesn’t get done. A natural upshot of this is that the one person is therefore elevated to the lofty position of the omniscient. In fact, he is often an idiot savant.

      In fact, in Spain, many people do not fully understand their entire job. Many are not really computer-literate, although they use one for their work. Many do not keep abreast of changes. But there is no room for discussion and problem-solving with colleagues if it is a task for one person only.

      Add into the mix the fact that Spain is not one united country but many sub-countries, with each junta having its own regional rules and its own spin on the national ones. And the fact that so much at high level has been pretty corrupt – nepotism rules, OK?

      The whole thing needs throwing out with the dishwater and re-inventing, really. That isn’t going to happen any time soon! Most of us can only shake our heads in wonder that the government of a country that is, frankly, on its arse cannot see the blindingly obvious when it comes to assistance for rather than impedance of new business!

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