Getting a Company's Attention

I'm having a difficult time getting out Pool Company to honor their warranty. The Company expert has looked at the pool and stated it needed to be repaired however the Company is not responsive. What is the process to deal with these issues in France? Are there organizations like Trading Standards, Ombudsman's &, etc.?

Shame on them! Ah well, looks like it's the huissier as Peter said - pretty sure that's the same as a bailiff.

Dave, I contacted the Chamber they told me they do not deal it these situations. They suggested using a Bailiff or getting a Attorney.

To find a copy of French consumer law look on which also has translations in to English. If you don't know what this website is it is a government website which contains everything to do with French law. The bit your looking for is L211-1 but it is very long as it covers just about everything from finacial services to buying on the Internet.

You can also look on the EU website

I would then write them a letter firstly reminding them of their own experts conclusion. Remind them of when you bought the pool, when it was finished, when you paid, when the probem was first noticed and when their expert attended. If you were told not to use the pool say how long that has been.

Include in your letter

State that "le mauvais fonctionnement depuis l'achat démontre que l'article est défectueux et n'est pas propre à l’usage attendu." (malfunctions since purchase prove item is faulty and not fit for purpose).

Follow that with "Conformément aux articles L211-1 et suivants du code de la consommation, je vous mets en demeure de remplacer / rembourser cet article défectueux dans un délai de trente jours, faute de quoi, je devrais saisir le tribunal compétent." (as per art. blahblahblah, I demand a replacement / refund - state your choice - within 30 days or I'll take legal action).

If the problem was detected with the first 6 months of purchase then under French law it is a manufacturing problem and they must either refund or replace rather than repair.

If your French is not that good and you have Microsoft Word then there is a 'plugin' just search for 'Translator for Microsoft Word'. Keep your sentances short and to the point and make sure your English grammar is correct and you will find that a French person will be able to understand it (unlike some of the online translation software).

It is very import that you send the letter by lettre recommendée.

If that fails first check your house insurance, you may have legal cover. If not then go see a Huissier de Justice with a copy of any documentation you have (photos if you have them) and a copy of the letter you sent along with the reciept for the lettre recommendée.

My experience is that French shops etc are not aware of consumer rights. They try to fob you off and quite often waving printouts of L211-1 and the EU consumer law in their faces gets results on the basis that if you have taken the time to find this out your a serious person and are not prepared to back off which of course is what they want you to do.

Hope that helps and good luck

Also check your home insurance - if you have judicial cover on your home insurance then they can sometimes act on your behalf. We used this when we took out a 5 year warranty on our dishwasher which failed after 4 and a half years. The company tried to say it wasn't their problem. Our judicial insurance intervened and the dishwasher was subsequently fixed (circa 700 euros of parts and labour covered under warranty) and has been fine ever since.

Sometimes you can buy the judicial insurance as a top up to your existing plan and then contact them immediately after - check with your insurance broker.

You can try

They're like 'Which' in the UK but they also have offices. Join up and tell them the problem. If you have a case they have legal staff who will draft a letter for you to send. They did this for me when a plumber failed to carry out work under warranty. He arrived within two days of me posting the letter. He was very upset - but completed the work...

Have a look at Useful Links, Cory There's a long section on consumer organisations and info on ombudsmen/mediators etc.

As David says send a lettre recommendée and an email if you have their address with copy of letter attached and, forget French protocol, say what you would say if you were fed up with a company in the UK in letter form, just finishing off with the flowery bits. The French tend to say you can't do/say that but of course you can say/do anything you want to get a response. On the other hand perhaps they are just very busy at this time of year installing pools and you are not a priority to them, after service being notoriously bad here you just have to keep plugging away. If you have a person's name hassle them as well.

Phrases you may like to use:

Nous avons rappelons que vous avez ............

Nous avons insisté plusieurs fois sur l'urgence de........

Nous sommes surpris que vous ne nous ayez pas ...........

Veuillez donc nous faire savoir d'urgence la date précise de ..........................

In normal circumstances, destroying the product in front of the company's head office, in the presence of representatives of the media, will often result in a satisfactory outcome! But in this case, that might be difficult......

Suggest you take advice from "Que Choisir", the French "Which". You will have to pay a small fee to join, but they carry a lot of weight and can often get a result without you having to go to court. You should find a local group near you.

Cory, you should visit your local "Les maisons de justice et du droit" where you will be able to get free advice from an Advocat.

There are consumer organisations but I would first of all get the advice of a Huissier de Justice who will probably be able to make a 'constate' or an independant appraisal of the situation which is a legally binding document. Companies don't like receiving communications from Huissiers as it's very bad publicity so the company will usually act quickly to avoid embarassment if they know they are in the wrong. The Huissier could of course advise that the company is correct and advise you not to take action etc.

True story - A good friend in the Dax area was having a pool built by a very well known company and the contract stated the work needed to be completed before a date which coincided with bookings he had received for the gîte. The work was incomplete up to a few days before the deadline and my mate, a french army paratrooper drove to the office to 'have a chat'. His wife, terrified phoned the company and warned her hubby was on his way with a rifle to discuss the situation. The company workmen arrived at the house an hour later and the work was completed.....

Tell me about it! Glad if it's helped Cory and best of luck!

David, Thanks for you suggestions. Sometimes it takes a someone not so emotionally involved to think things through more clearly.

Have you "googled" them or checked out their website (sure you have but have to ask!)? There may be mention on there of any associations they belong to. Have you written to them? Do you have a copy of any report from their expert?

I'd suggest that if you haven't already you get a letter off to them recorded delivery referring to the date from which the problem has existed, plus the date of the visit by their expert, and give them say 28 days to respond with a firm date for repairs.

I see no reason why you shouldn't ask the Chambre de Commerce if they're members - they may even help with advice on how to get the company to meet their obligation under the warranty.

They are one of the biggest Sellers installers in France I would assume they are members. Can I contact the Chambre and ask,? Will they help? We have spoken with the Company on numerous occasions this problems has existed for over a year. Everything they do takes months. Our Warranty runs out next year we think they are waiting us out. The bottom line is the pool is fiberglass and the shell broken down , has bumps and leaks.

Are they members of the chambre de commerce or similar? How have you tried to contact them so far?