Good service - consumer rights?

Does anyone know what the consumer regulations are here? Recent experiences have lead me to believe that they don't exist here.

last week for example I was helping some friends collect some flooring from Bricomarche. The assistants in the store were very helpful and told us to tell the girl on the till that there was a discount. My friend who speaks very good French explained this to the girl on the till who told her it would be applied automatically.

Once through the inner door we stopped to check the till receipt and discovered that no discount had in fact been applied. We went back in to bring this to the attention of the checkout girl. To my amazement she offered a 'credit note' (c. 50 euros!) We hadn't even left the store so my friend asked if it could be put back on her card but apparently this is not possible and after waiting another 10minutes while 2 staff members discussed they eventually presented a cheque!

My wife had a similar experience when she mistakenly bought a towel rail which was the wrong type. We took it back within an hour and had the same problem. Eventually they agreed to try and get the correct one from another store, which happily they found.

This week-end we bought the last two of flat pack cupboards from Lidl and put them together only to find that half of a finishing strip was missing off the front edge -ok we should I suppose have noticed this. Anyway we have decided its not worth the bother as I can imagine the reaction of the staff.

I assumed that with being part of the European community similar consumer protection should be in place

I am about to stand my ground as I was today given an "Avoir" for returned goods. I said it was against the law and I should be given money. She told me to prove it so I am about to return with this:

Article L121-20-1

Lorsque le droit de rétractation est exercé, le professionnel est tenu de rembourser le consommateur de la totalité des sommes versées, dans les meilleurs délais et au plus tard dans les trente jours suivant la date à laquelle ce droit a été exercé. Au-delà, la somme due est, de plein droit, productive d'intérêts au taux légal en vigueur. Ce remboursement s'effectue par tout moyen de paiement. Sur proposition du professionnel, le consommateur ayant exercé son droit de rétractation peut toutefois opter pour une autre modalité de remboursement.

Un avoir est un document commercial émis par un vendeur reconnaissant a un acheteur une dettte à ce dernier.

yes, the link works - good story about terrible service but it doesn't surprise me at all after what I've heard from OH about his experiences in Africa.

If you think France is bad just read this (hope the link works for people who aren't among his "friends").

Thanks to everyone who has replied and for the advice given. Its good to hear that some have in fact recieved good service, and I have to say I have too from smaller establishments. It does appaear to be the larger concerns that are the culprits.

I agree that you should stand your ground, however not to 'lose it' as I have done on occassion!

hi Pam.. lazy talk for a generator, even longer here in France "Groupe electrogene"..

David, elsewhere on SFN I recorded the incredible customer service I received from Leroy Merlin. I had ordered four portes coulissantes miroir in two packs of two doors, each door being 250 x 60, for a built-in wardrobe.

Delivery was made at the time offered, but when we stripped the plastic covering away, we found four small scratches to the steel frames of the doors, where the lacquer had obviously caught on the sides of the truck. I immediately sent off an email with photographs, and asking either for the lacquer to touch up the scratches, or replacement profils.

Within two days I received a reply telling me the problem was being looked into and two days later received a further email telling me the 'good news' that they would deliver new doors. They arrived, and were fine, but the truck driver told me he could not take the old ones back, they were a 'petit cadeau'! So we now have eight doors!

Anyone interested in making an offer for four, slightly damaged wardrobe doors??

However, have to admit that elsewhere, we've had to haggle to get decent service reactions, like going on the first day of a 'Promo' only to find the computer operating the tills, had not been adjusted to the new reduced prices for the 'Promo'. That seems like a pretty common problem, and since its down to staff failings, they are reluctant to admit their mistakes!

Bob, what is 'genny'? have not heard the expression before and have been hiding down under for 36 years... obviously leading a very sheltered life!

lidl are pretty good for swapping or refunding for faulty products in the shop within 28 days, after this it's return to address on guarantee.. KEEP THEIR RECEIPTS!!,, they do honour the 3 yr g/tee.. i had a microwave and dvd player go west at 2 yr 10 mths.. called the number on the g/tee, they verified the receipt, sent me a returns label, and even sent a truck to collect the micro. it was too old to repair, so they replaced it with the latest model.. also replaced the dvd drive unit..

i've found brico's a little less entertaining.. buy something and change your mind,,they'll give you an avoir.

But, only saturday i returned a faulty water nozzle for my sink tap.. with the receipt.. they replaced it with a new one off the rack..

same for aq genny i bought from bricomarche.. it failed after 8 weeks, wouldn't spark.. took it back and they said it would go back to makers. 6 weeks later, it was still in their store room.. the manager said they were trying to fix it!! But were having staff problems or some other waffle.. i did point out his problems are not my concern..but the lack of my 200 quid genny is causing me problems.. sort it please.. He spoke to an assistant and gave me a new one off the a bottle of engine oil.. stand your ground, be pleasant.. don't lose it.. they will play ball.

Intermarché.. beware of their offers.. stand your ground again, last week softner was 50% with a bon d'achat.. which didn't materialise at the till, s.a.v went to the rack, read the deal on the placard. then went to the pub.. found the advert.. but still baulked on the ticket, siad they would call.. but didn't. I went in 2 days later and the girl on s.a.v couldn't produce the bon d'achat.. i asked for a refund.. she gave it without further ado..

Happy shopping campers

Generalisations are, of course, dangerous and it is not always the case that UK customer service is that good. Equally in France, we have had stunning service from a local independent family owned electrical retailer and a similar family furniture shop. They both deliver at a time to suit us and assume we will drop in some time after the goods are delivered and fitted to pay when it suits us. Such examples may be exceptions but we do our best always to use family businesses on the use it or lose it principle.

Ive found an excellent tactic for dealing with with problems such as this in a country where customer service is pretty grim.

If I have to take back goods then i do it about 10 minutes before the shop closes for lunch or in the evening.

The idea of being late for lunch is unthinkable for a French person so they deal with the problem promptly. At first they may ask for you to come back tomorrow . But, stand your ground! When they see you are not going to budge they deal with it.

Works every time

Brico Depot in Rodez (Sebazac Concours) are great. At the tills its always service with a smile and the assistants quite happily chat with the children. I bought some metal undercoat paint by accident last year and when I returned with the receipt a couple of days later, they happily refunded the amount to my credit card, no problems. I even got a "sorry for your wait" after I had to wait a couple of minutes while the assistant had to serve another couple!

Oh, heavens. A subject near and dear to my heart. When I lived in France in my youth I could deal with the total lack of customer service here even though I didn't like that I am much older I have absolutely no tolerance for the rudeness and lack of assistance in any way. And coming from the US where most consumer businesses bend over backward to satisfy the customer only ampliflies the differences. As far as I am concerned, France deserves its deep recession and high unemployment...maybe someone, someday will get a clue and begin to change...otherwise this country is doomed for many years to come.

Like Hilary, I've seen Lidl in action with another customer and was impressed, but yes, time limited promos are an issue. Our local Mr Bricolage is good if you have to return stuff, as long as you retain the sales docket. We had an issue with Tridome when we had a load of floor tiles delivered. The driver unloaded them and broke all the corners off on one side, which we didn't notice at the time as it was pouring with rain and we weren't about to open all the boxes (in any case the driver would not have waited while we checked) and we had no transport at that moment to go in and claim a refund or replacements. When we finally did go in, they were angry with us and no refund for careless unloading was possible. I have a friend who was escorted out of LeClerc supermarket by two huge bodyguards (and was also banned from returning) - she's tiny - because she demanded a refund. I must remember the 'répression des fraudes' phrase though as that could come in handy.

We had the contrary in ATAC in Cluny, when the cashier asked one of her colleagues to change one of our purchases so that we could get the benefit of the special offer.

Actually, I have always found Lidl here to be excellent at replacing or refunding items (unlike most other places, as has been mentioned). The only problem is that they have time-limited promotions, so replacements aren't always possible.

In fact their motto is "satisfait ou remboursé sans discussion"

Well Chris,

My experience has been quite the opposite, in fact I have no complaints about the service I have enjoyed from 'The French'!

On the whole, it is improving though, we were nearly arrested in a popular garden/tool supply shop in Nerac 10 years ago for daring to make a stand. The manager actually pushed Catharine in front of the police and they did nothing. We were subsequently banned from the premises!

We had a similar experience at Bricomarche at Lezignan.

We were buying a new drill, to replace one that the chuck jaws (sorry if this is not a technically accurate description) had finally given up the ghost.

A very helpful man brandishing the current version of the Bricomarche deals catalogue, saw that we were considering which drill to buy and pointed out that if we bought the one we were looking at most favourably, we would also get a set of good quality drill bits free of charge. Gosh, a very pleasant surprise!

But, oh, when we arrived at the till the offer did not compute on the cashier's till.

We explained that the drill bits were "gratuit" as per the offer, but she wasn't having any of it.

I refused to pay until it was sorted out. Begrudgingly, with a queue that was growing, she had a phone conversation with someone in the back office, who was unable to confirm the offer.

I wouldn't move, and was about to walk away without making a purchase at all, when the helpful man walked past with the brochure in hand. He showed the relevant page to the cashier, who was still on the phone, and eventually she relented and rang the drill bits through as gratuit.

Suddenly she was all smiles as she took our payment.

And we were very happy with our drill and bits.

Still nervous though about offers and the organisation's ability to comply with them.

Is it staff training? failure to update their computer/EPOS systems? or both? Or is there a cultural thing?

After returning something faulty to my local Point Vert hours after purchasing it, I asked for a refund and was refused one. After stating that I was entitled to one according to the law, the management agreed that it was indeed the law and I was entitled to a refund in theory, but as a company they did not give refunds and gave me a Bon D'Achat instead ! It was not an amount worth fighting over !

I think the quality of customer and after sales service depends more on competition than legislation. Our local Leroy Merlin used to have an appalling customer service culture. However, a Bricodepot opened up a few kilometres away a few years ago and now LM's customer service has drastically improved !

Point Vert, meanwhile, seem to have had, since time immemorial, a core customer base that would not even dream of going elsewhere. Consequently, they behaved almost like a communist state run retail outlet ! However, that core base is growing older and disappearing. I have no doubt their attitudes will change soon or they will go under.