Expert des travaux (litiges)

I live in a small village about 20 minutes from Beziers. I have been ripped off by Godin who I thought was a reputable company. Basically, after confirming that they could heat my whole house with a pellet stove (inserting vents into the first and second floors), they have inserted the fire, put in the vents but the vents have a solid wall behind them. They charged me 7,000 euros for this. They are now denying they ever agreed that it would heat all the floors, even though the bon commande includes the vents. Their response was they put in the vents in case I wanted to heat the other rooms in the future. So now I have paid 7,000 euros to heat one room! I therefore need an Expert des travaux in the interim so they can give a report on what has been done. I would be grateful if anyone knows of one in the Beziers area and also any advice would be welcome. We did visit the Director of the Godin Beziers branch who was rude and defensive. We have now written (registered post) to the head office of Godin and copied two of their directors. To date, we have not received a response. Thank you. Patti

I agree with PAuls comments and take a few photos also, before anyone arrives to look. Make sure the date is on the photo! As well as knowing a lot I’ve also learnt a lot fast here!

Well done Patti, glad my explanation of how we worked helped you! As to your Bon commande I have no expertise in that here, but I’m sure others will help you sort it. :slight_smile:

You are right John, and France is turning me into such an old cynic that I am inclined to say that were I to come across an example of 'logic' or even 'common sence' in an experts report, I'd rejoice wholeheartedly :-)

Re the tax rebate, first you need to check whether this can be carried over to future years. It might be that tax credit for work carried out in 2015 would have to be claimed on your 2016 declaration of your situation in 2015. If that's the case then if you weren't resident in France in 2015, unfortunately there is nowhere to go with this.

Thanks Richard.

They actually told me the work was being carried out in October. I had a meeting in Montpellier so told them I wanted the work done around these dates so I could come to the house, see the work and then pay the balance (4,900). A couple of days before this date, they called and said there had been a delay and the work couldn't be done until November and of course I couldn't then come back out again. On reflection I presume the "sly" reason for this was that I would have seen the vents had a brick wall behind them and they were worried they wouldn't get the rest of my money!

Re the tax, I won't actually be working in France, but may continue to do some consultancies and depending on how much I earn, I will then be taxed. Is there someone I could contact about the possible tax rebate?


Hmm trying to upload the bon de commande .. will try again.



Thank you - yes you are correct. They have just replied to my letter with a total fabrication of the truth. It really is unbelievable how they have lied. For info, I am attaching the bon commande.

Thanks again to all


Also Andrew, who contracted/employed the fitters to do the installation, the shop in Beziers or Godin? A copy of the installation instructions would be useful to compare against the paper Patti signed. I suggest knowing this would immediately suggest who is at fault here.

The customer for not understanding what she was signing. The firm that made the Contract with her or the installers. If Godin had no part in the installation then it’s not their fault.

We were a Manufacturers, Designated sales company for the supply of both German kitchen furniture and appliances,because we displayed their products, amongst a few others, in our fitted showroom.

It was down to us have the knowledge and expertise to install goods correctly as per any manufacturers specific safety instructions.

The Sales and installation contract was between us and our Customers and was only signed after our customers had been given a Quotation detailing goods supplied and what the installation works would involve and of course separate prices 1 for supply only, and 2nd for cost of installation works as detailed. Total + VAT = total for customers.

We never left any room for misunderstandings between us and our clients! Whatever country one lives in, it is even more imperative that the client fully understands what they getting for what they paying. The Law will uphold Paperwork better than a “he said” or “I said” situation.

Dont the French always have at bottom of paperwork you have to sign a term that has to be written in your own hand and signed/dated. It’s used as the get out clause! I can’t lay my hands on one at the moment! They are in in my files.

Richard, whilst I am sure you are correct the devis is everything, what our eyes can see, what our hands can touch would logically also be part of any case. Fitting of parts at a high cost that do not function? It seems as if the tubes were not mentioned going by what others have said, just how would the heat get to the vents without tubes? Just seems to show the expert is even less skilled at their craft but it is france.


The devis is EVERYTHING! If you get one: "installation of a Godin xyz234 pellet stove" pass on by until you find an artisan whose devis is ridiculously itemised.

On a personal note:

1)also note that once the devis signed you have an obligation to carry out the work so make sure that the devis has a works completion date (not just starting date).

2) You can specify the payment schedules in the devis also, and in my limited experience make sure that you withhold a very significant percentage until after the system being installed has been proved to function as promised (not just work when the button is pushed).

3) The devis, I believe, should mention which insurance company has issued the decennial insurance. It is prudent to check that the decennial insurance will still be valid at the completion date (not just start date).

Finallly, I don't know if you will be paying tax here, but you should be aware of the 30% (I think) tax rebate you are entitled to.

Hi Patti,

Regardless of the "heat the whole house" issue, it does seem that you were really ripped off on the product and price in the first place. Supply and installation of a standard log woodburner to heat the space you refer to would have cost probably less than half of what you agreed to. Admittedly pellet stoves require less effort to keep burning longer, but is it really worth the high capital cost of such a stove? And the pellets will probably work out more expensive than wood from your local log-supplier.

I'm not suggesting that any claim you make would be entirely futile, but I do feel it might be an uphill struggle. A consumer organisation (free) or a really good avocat (we know an excellent one based in Bordeaux), might help you to negotiate a satisfactory settlement.

Or it might not cost a lot to have a handyman knock some holes in the chimney walls and install some adjustable grilles...



When we lived up in Normandy a few years ago (we are now in the Gironde) we had a 13kw Godin log woodburner supplied and installed by the local ironmonger for about 1300 euros, including the making and supplying of a "tole" (a huge metal plate - with a central hole for the flue pipe) to cover the gap at the bottom of the massive stone chimney. That, without any grilles or pipes, successfully and comfortably heated some 200 square metres over 2 floors. We and our 4 cats loved it!

Thank you Paul. I always try and end up looking at things pragmatically so will try and few more avenues (but not spend any further money on fighting it, that's for sure) and then "Que sera, sera".

I live in Puisserguier - moving there full time 1 May from Italy where I have been for 25 years .... so I am fairly used to "quality of service" unfortunately but I love France and can't wait to come there.

Thanks for all your comments and advice.


They do have the Rogue traders program on French TV, watched it many times, ah the land of milk and honey and rose tinted spectacles. Not to mention a shed load of paperwork to accompany anything and all pretty useless at the end of the day.

Burn their shop down!

Thanks Mike. The irony is that I have lived in Italy (Rome) for the past 20 years but have always known that I wanted to end up in France which is why I finally purchased a house there.

Anyway, I am going to try with some of the very good suggestions I have been given from "friends" of this forum.



Thanks Paul. We found an Expert des Travaux and he confirms that the bon de command does say that there will be vents on the two uppers floors which diffuse the heat, but it does NOT include the pipes or anything else that would be needed for it to function. Of course when I went to the shop I had a colleague to speak French but when he came to my house, confirmed it could be done and wrote out the bon de command, only I and my sister and partner were there and of course we don't speak French, but I did see the note about vents on R1 and R2 so of course presumed he had written what had been agreed.

I contacted the legal protection company who I pay monthly but they (after calling Godin) said basically that there had been a "misunderstanding" and that they had put in the vents in case I wanted to put in heating in the future. I can't believe the rubbish they spun!

Thanks a lot


Thanks Les - that is a really good idea. Any friend of mine suggested calling RTL radio who apparently love these sorts of cases. Yes I have good photos and in fact the technical man who came to show me how to programme the stove actually laughed out loud when he saw what they had done and basically said it was a "superficial" vent with absolutely no use whatsoever.

I like this idea.

Thank you


Hi Mel

Thank you very much for this information. Actually you have a very good point. The bon commande does say that there will be warm air diffused to the two additional floors, but in fact doesn't include the pipes or the motor needed, which is why I have been advised that I probably don't have a legal case. It makes me so mad - they basically have taken 7,000 euros after confirming that it would heat the whole house - which is actually only 75 sm. and now it only heats the kitchen. In the UK they would be taken to court and it would be an open and closed case. Here it appears the courts are on the side of the suppliers, irrespective of what was agreed or in fact using any logic or common sense - who would agree to have vents stuck to the outside of a wall with a brick wall behind.

Thank you anyway.


Hello Patti,

What you need first is to obtain a "Constat", an official report on the situation prepared by a "Huissier de Justice", an officer of the Court who will make an inspection of what has (and has not) been done by your supplier in relation to the "devis" to which you agreed. The Huissier will prepare the Constat in detail and if appropriate with photos; this then becomes an "inarguable" document accepted by the Court as being a true representation of the situation. However, you need to use a Huissier attached to whichever court serves the area in which you live. You will pay a fee for this (usually 300-500€ - but get a quote in advance!).

You should also contact your local branch of UMC Que Choisir, who will look at your case and advise upon it; they might also pursue the claim on your behalf.

However, French law takes a very limited literal interpretation of what you agreed to, so be sure your signed devis (the contract for the installation) made it very clear that the heating would be effective throughout the house. I know of a case where a builder forgot to allow for holes in a stone wall inside a house which would support the beams he had agreed to put in; he therefore hung the beams on brackets. The client sued; the builder won, because the contract merely stated to install beams and did not specify the method of support. Not very aesthetic compared to the usual method of supporting the beams on holes chopped out of the wall but he had literally provided the beams and it was his choice as to how they would be supported, in the absence of a specific term of agreement as to this point.

Bonne chance,

Mel Anthony

I had a (different) problem with a wood-burning stove, and had a similar response from the retailer - "not my problem".

I took a different route - I took a picture of the problem and loaded it onto U-Tube, with the retailer's name, and "Problem" both prominent, to give it a better chance of being high on the search-engines' lists - if people looked up that name. It reached 800 hits within a couple of weeks - 800 potential customers that I hope were persuaded to buy elsewhere. They sent a letter (recorded delivery) threatening a libel suit; I replied that it couldn't be libel if it was true, and I had all the evidence. Suddenly they wanted to help. I like to think that I cost them some sales...
I think someone's already advised you to be sure you're naming the right enterprise - which company's name is on the devis and facture? Also, be sure you keep it factual, not personal or abusive, or you might give them grounds for a libel case.