Signed devis, advice please?


We signed a devis, to diagnose and repair an air conditioning unit but the part replaced didn’t fix the problem. We paid partial payment as required. Now the technician says we need another part (quite expensive) in order to successfully fix it.

We owe for the (unnecessary) part he replaced, which we found to cost quite less when we searched online for it. We realise things get marked up. But the disparity in prices was significant.

So, the repair was not successful, we’re not happy with the problem solving the technician has done, and we feel reluctant to pay the balance.

Can we negotiate or refuse to pay? Any advice?

Thanks in advance.

If you refuse to pay, any insurance is null and void. However, did the original devis have any clause regarding the part fitted such as not being a guarantee this will solve the problem? As for searching for parts and costs online being cheaper but could you have fitted them? I can see both sides of this problem from when we were in business but if litigation becomes the only road to a solution, you both lose out very very big time in costs and reputations. An amical solution all round is the answer and if you want the unit repaired, you may have to pay for more parts but same time, technician may do a deal with you regarding fitting costs. Sort it amicably is my advice, nothing good comes of threats and refusing to pay plus the world in which the artisan works is close knit and “problem” clients will find a hard job in getting anyone else - no offence meant meaning you are a problem client but in their eyes etc…


From what you say, the work/replacement part hasn’t fixed the problem… which surely means the technician did not correctly identify the problem… (???)…

Personally, I would not pay the complete amount of the Quote until the work is properly finished… but perhaps the wording of the quote allows flexibility on “parts”…

I know many will sigh… but I would have a quiet word at my Mairie.
Our Mairie is very much aware that foreigners (not just Brits) do not always understand the “small print” and/or complications which can arise in various situations and have made it clear on several occasions (and in the annual Bulletin) that they are available to answer queries/guide folk…

I am aware that not all Mairies are so helpful… but it’s worth a try… and, if not, perhaps discuss with a neighbour…

best of luck

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The problem was pretty clear, the unit produced error code 57 which we reiterated to the technician… Several times! We’re wondering if maybe he knew all along what part needed replacing; but the cost of the part is much more expensive than the part he actually replaced. At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but OH feels more cynical. Also, there is challenge of the language barrier between a technician who speaks only French and us who speak minimal French. Maybe somehow this factors into the choices made. Anyway. OH had wondered if we could chat with the mairie about it. Thanks!

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Thanks very much, we’re pretty sure we’ll do something else now, to try keeping the house cool for the summer. So we’ve decided against going forward with any more repairs of the unit.

Your advice on reputation and finding an amicable solution are much appreciated. So helpful.

We wondered if we could take out the part he replaced and return it to the technician with a written explanation, and refusal to pay the balance… He charged over 400 for the part (cost a little over 200 online). We paid 189 up front at the signing of the devis.

Sigh. :thinking:

No, whatever you do, do not touch or remove the part. If litigation were to be taken, you would lose straightaway for having done so without the artisan returning and doing it himself thus making your claim null and void. You must write to him asking for an amical settlement and that you are not refusing to pay but simply wish to find a solution for both sides and send by LRAR, ordinary post is NOT accepted in court and explain your grievances in french of course, english is not accepted. As for finding the item cheaper, you signed (“lu et accepté”) the devis to pay the price quoted regardless of it’s origin and cost to the artisan so you cannot go back on that either. If you write you refuse to pay, he can legally go straight to the Huissiers to start the process of recovery for which you will pay for.

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As Shiba says… you mustn’t touch anything…
The Technicien has quoted to diagnose and do the work and it’s down to him to fulfil his side of the bargain…


I would be very wary of saying anything at the mairie because you do not know who is related to who or who is friendly with who. You run the risk of shooting yourself in the foot,

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I am aware of a few communes where old-family-ties can/do make things uncomfortable for anyone who is not within that particular group… and not just for foreigners, but for French folk too.

However, if that is the sad situation… one can look higher up/elsewhere for assistance and guidance… it’s unlikely that all the Mairies in the area are similarly blessed… :roll_eyes: :wink:

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While agreeing with the softly softly approach advised by everyone else, I would add that it doesn’t always produce the required result.

When our extension was built 23 years ago we signed the normal agreement of payment in 3 stages, the 3rd being ‘when all the work was completed’. I took that at its face value and did not refuse to pay, but continued to wait, for the last things to be done. The boss of the firm was most indignant accusing me of refusing to pay for such a small thing.

The 2 things left to do were connection of the telephone socket and the sealant around the rear door. We agreed to pay immediately after he promised that both of those would be done the next day. Sure enough the telephone people arrived and we were connected, but as to the sealant, we are still waiting, 23 years later. :roll_eyes: I made no more fuss and, as we later decided to make the rear terrasse a veranda, it didn’t matter. But it still rankles.


Incidentally, slight thread drift, but…

When considering purchasing a property… often advice is to visit the Mairie and discuss…
They will advise on what can and can’t be done with the property, as well as answering one’s question about local thingies/whatever…

It’s also an opportunity to judge the welcome and helpfulness of said Mairie…
Often an appointment is best… but, even so, an off the cuff visit can be quite illuminating :wink:

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Thank you again. Incredibly helpful. And as you say, we must remember that we signed to pay the price quoted. It’s so good to be reminded of things like this in a constructive way. We are learning! Yikes. Learning is expensive quelquefois.

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What were the terms and conditions of the devis you signed? If there was nothing guaranteeing 100% that it would be repaired then I think you become in the wrong if you don’t pay.

In terms of the mark up, did the total price include his time on the repair, the travel time and costs or were these identified separately?=.

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@MaryW Just thinking… how did you decide to use this Technicien?? Is he qualified to diagnose and repair your Aircon???

and, as has been said… check exactly what he has quoted for… and ask yourself if he has done all that he actually quoted for…
If you need help translating/understanding… scan the devis (hiding your personal details) and I’m sure someone on the forum will be able to confirm what’s actually written…

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The artisans professional assurance policy should include assurance biennial, which is there to cover parts/fittings supplied that break/fail within two years, but also covers such parts as being fit for purpose.

The expensive part he has supplied is not fit for purpose as it doesn’t resolve the problem they had quoted to fix i.e. you have a claim against his assurance.

Now, most artisans would not want a claim to be made as such things push premiums up, so fix the issue directly & return broken or unsuitable parts.

You should have been supplied evidence of the artisan’s assurance when obtaining the devis, so use that to make the challenge.


If the quote was diagnosis and repair then it is slightly different. The part does not resolve the problem, but I’m not sure one can say it is not fit for purpose. It may well be a perfectly functioning part.

The issue is one of incorrect diagnosis. And probably compounded by the language barrier since OP says their French communication is poor.

I would not get into a bun fight for this, but try to negotiate. The last thing one wants is a (local?) artisan bad-mouthing you.

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Agreed but that’s the point; something has been supplied to carry out a task, is not faulty but doesn’t do the job i.e. not fit for purpose.

If I were the artisan I would admit my error & provide the correct part & get a refund from my supplier [edit: for the wrong one]. If the client offers to buy exactly the right part then I’d bite their hand off for it as it then doesn’t come under my assurance if it fails…

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After several email messages between OH and the technician, the technician has told us that he won’t sue for the balance we owe him but he never wants to do business with us again.

OH’s points, in the email, were that whereas a markup in price for a part the tech supplies is expected, a doubling of the price is too much.

The bigger issue, to my mind, was that it turns out the tech had (so he claimed, anyway) dealt with a unit like ours before. The error code 57 was something he’d seen. That time, he had replaced the part as he’d done for us, the unit then issued the code 57 error after it was turned on. And then he had replaced the part relating to error code 57.

We don’t know the full story for that previous service he’d done. For our situation: it has always been the case: the unit turns on, starts the upper fan, then tries to initiate the lower fan at which point the malfunction occurs and it states error 57. We explained this but in all fairness we just let him do his work without interruption. We figured he was the pro so he’d work it out.

So, the part he replaced didn’t fix the issue and we’ll never know if it was faulty. But it doesn’t matter, since the part that sets off ‘code 57’ isn’t that part. It’s another part that costs 1500 - 1700 euros.


This morning we received a new facture with a balance owed of zero. No apology, and he probably won’t ever do work for us again.

Well at least you know where you stand now and won’t be going to tribunal. When you say technician, is he a specialist or just an electrician who installs air conditioning units. I would not let his threats about never dealing with you again stop you trying to contact other artisans who install such systems and maybe if you do not speak good french, have a friend who can liase for you.

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