Consumer Rights in France

Stop spam being sent to your mobile cellular phone; know your rights in a restaurant; find out how to handle disputes...

The General Directorate for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (Direction Générale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes, DGCCRF) protects the interests of the consumer in France.

  • DGCCRF
    Tel
    : 3939 (Allo Service Publique)
    Open
    : Monday to Friday 08:00-20:00; Saturday 08:30-18:00

The DGCCRF provides an A-Z of information on how a consumer may deal with situations in which their rights may have been abused

  • For information on handling a wide variety of situations, visit DGCCRF (in French)

Consumer Associations

There are 18 national consumer associations able to represent and defend consumers. These differ depending on the issue; for example, problems with transport, accommodation or food.

  • Institut National de la consommation has a list of consumer associations (in French)
  • INC have a detailed guide to the consumer associations (in French)
  • The Consumer Safety Commission, CSC (Commission de la Sécurité des Consommateurs) provides practical information on risks, as well as recommendations for consumers (partly in English)
  • The European Consumer Centre France (ECC France) provides free information on consumer rights in the EU, and assists in cross-border disputes

Restaurants and Cafés

The DGCCRF provides detailed information in English on the rights of a customer in:

Bankcard Payments

Payment by bankcard cannot be refused, although a minimum amount might be set.

  • More information from the DGCCRF (PDF in French)

Holiday Property Rental

Before agreeing to rent premises not yet seen, it is advisable to ask for a written contract with a detailed description of the accommodation. When arriving, make sure an inventory is taken, that meters are read, and a note made on the condition of the premises. Enquire about insurance; some insurances might have a holiday visitor inclusion, if not, take out specific cover.

Car Repairs

Before having a vehicle repaired, insist on being given a repair order clearly stating the work to be undertaken, as well as an estimate of the price. This should be checked against the final bill.

Disputes

There are various options available to the consumer in the case of a dispute. This may include disputes over matters as diverse as a refusal to repair an appliance under guarantee; recompense for an item of clothing damaged at a cleaner; and poorly executed or incomplete building work on a home.

  • For full details on how to achieve an out-of-court settlement, or to proceed with the help of the law, visit the French Government website

Internet Purchase

The French government information website, Service Public, has detailed information on rules regarding purchases made over the Internet or long distance.

Returns policy

Under French consumer law (article 121-20-1, la Code de la Consommation, le droit de rétractation), a consumer has the right to return a product within seven days, without explaining why and without penalty (apart from the actual cost of returning the product). Reimbursement must be made as soon as possible, and within 30 days.

Situations when this law doesn't apply:

  • If the consumer has waived their right to the seven day period
  • Purchase of food and other products which can go off
  • Audio, video or computer software that has been opened by the consumer
  • Purchase of magazines and newsletters
  • Services regarding transport, accommodation or leisure activities

Spam, Fraud and Advertising

CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés) is an independent administrative authority which works to protect privacy and personal data. It provides consumer information on rights and obligations.

  • The Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL)
    At: 8, rue Vivienne, CS 30223, 75083 Paris CEDEX 02
    Tel
    : 01 53 73 22 22     
    Website

Mobile cellular telephone spam

There are several ways to stop spam (SMS text message or vocal) from being sent to a mobile cellular phone:

  • Act directly against the spammer:
    • Send "STOP" to the sender of the SMS text message, who should reply in turn with a SMS text message confirming the request. This only works on 5-digit numbers starting by 3,4,5,6,7 or 8. It only stops SMS text messages from the sender in question
    • Send "CONTACT" to the sender of the SMS text message to receive an SMS text message with the contact details of the sender. This only works on 5-digit numbers starting by 3,4,5,6,7 or 8
    • Visit 33700 for more information (in French)
  • 37000 is a service to which a spam by SMS text message can be forwarded. A second SMS text message with the number the spam sender's number will be requested. Confirmation is then received that it will be dealt with. The service platform then informs the operator who may take legal action against the spammer or close the number.
  • Contact your mobile operator:
    • SFR provides detailed information on what to do on receiving spam (in French)
    • Bouygues Telecom have a form to fill in
    • Orange on spam SMS (in French)

E-mail spam

Signal Spam is a French government initiative which brings together private and public players working to control spam. By signalling spam senders to the platform, authorities and interested companies get access to the reports which can help to identify spammers and ensure internet safety.

Internet fraud

Fraud and suspicious or illegal behaviour on the Internet can be reported to PHAROS which analyses the problem and takes legal action as necessary.

Unwanted advertising

CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés) can provide help to consumers receiving unwanted advertising by post, phone or fax, if there is proof that a written request to the company distributing the advertising has been ignored or has been unsuccessful.

  • To make a complaint online, visit CNIL (in French)

European Consumer Protection

The European Consumer Centre for Services (ECCS) is a not-for-profit body which provides pre-shopping advice relevant to using European Union-wide sales services. The website has information on the consumer organisations and redress bodies, and information on what to look out for and consumer rights when paying for services across Europe.

Further Information