Ski chalet in Samoens - is there a central body for complaints?

Sorry this is a bit of a long post!!

We just had a week in a ski chalet in Samoens (about 2 hours from our home near Macon), choosing to stay within France so that we could bring the dog easily. Our party of family & friends discovered that we were the first guests in this "luxury chalet for 12-14" which was clearly unfinished. After a catalogue of problems we would like to get a refund or even get this place temporarily closed down (see the dangers listed below), so to whom can we complain? There is NO local agent/rep and the owner lives in London.

The main problems included: 2 complete power cuts....the first of which which required us to climb onto the EDF pole, outside in deep snow in the dark at 10.30pm, to find the temporary supply hooked up to the main EDF pole. Other items jumped on the fuse box when the TV or electric rangecooker were switched on. We discovered the reason for this was that EDF have not been able to inspect and approve the connections etc and upgrade it to a full supply as it's not fully finished (the supply is still limited to reseau 'chantier'), and won't be there until April when the snow is at manageable levels. The owner knows this, and some of the artisans [who had originally worked on the house and had had to come to fix problems during the week] told us that the owner has been told by EVERYONE involved in the project that the chalet is NOT ready for letting.

Other items promised but not provided: No wi-fi (two of our kids had online uni study to do so we had to get a Domino dongle at great expense) ----- the hot tub was frozen all week, only finally running on our last night (to our kids' & friends' great disappointment) ---- the promised sauna could not work as that was what brought the power down ---- the dishwasher malfunctioned for the second half of the week so we had washing up for a chalet for 12 people ---- the pans were all for a family of 4, not a chalet of 12, no mixing/salad bowl, no roasting tin, no casserole pan ---- one upstairs bedroom had no power in the sockets, nor heating ---- the ground floor heating didn't work and the insulation surrounding the windows is unfinished so the 2 bedrooms there were very cold ---- the hot tub was placed less than a metre from a 3m drop (and surrounded by solid ice) with NO balustrade or protection, nor any matting to prevent slippage so it is a major liability, even before a couple of drinks!! ---- no local contact offered for help or clarity (but the neighbours were brilliant, thankfully) ---- 3 bedrooms had no form of hanging space or drawers ---- 2 bedrooms had no curtains ---- we had to repair the leaking washing machine connection and change the display language from russian (!!??) ---- on arrival had to borrow a shovel from the neighbour to dig out a parking space ---- and we suspect that this is not yet registered as a business and should not be operating without a complete/approved electrical supply anyway!??

Any advice on steps to take would be very much appreciated, as we paid a lot for this chalet, to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary, and are being offered a miserable £300 refund for our 'inconveniences'. Thanks!


Thanks Tracy -- I found the chalet on a website from a google search, as there's no local agent or rep company. I paid using a bank transfer in euros about 10 days before we went, since it was a 'late' booking. This was because our kids could not be sure of being able to join us until being absolutely sure of their exam/study commitments etc.

Yes, I agree re the insurance -- there cannot possibly be any proper cover without a buildings completion cert etc. And I can't imagine he has a business licence (is it the same as a gite licence?) without some authority giving the necessary clearance and approval after a site visit --- and presumably checking the paperwork from EDF etc???

You don't mention how you found the chalet - private advert, on a site etc, that would be one way to start. Did you use credit card, PayPal etc, that may offer some protection.

The major issue is the electricity, it should not be rented out with out full insurance cover, which they can not possibly have with out approved electrics (I would have thought).

Possible post on TripAdvisor, it doesn't have to be listed yet, you can make the first listing.

As Margo said, you could 'porte plaint' at the local gendarmerie as it is likely not registered in which case the Tourist Office will send you to the gendarmerie.

Thanks Margo, I got the number of the tourist office and they have an english helpline which will be easier for explaining the problems we had.....although I would be reluctant to actually name the chalet to them at this point.

I'll try them tomorrow, and although they state at the bottom of the chalets page that "The Tourist Information cannot be involved in case of differences" I feel sure they could advise what to do next.