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EXPLAINED: How to get a refund on faulty goods in France

Getting a refund for faulty purchases can be difficult in France, so it’s important to know your legal rights.

EXPLAINED: How to get a refund on faulty goods in France
Even goods bought in the sale are covered by legal protections. Photo: Sameer Al Doumy/AFP

The garantie légale de conformité (legal guarantee of conformity) exists to protect consumers from faulty or mislabelled products. It concerns hidden defects which exist prior to purchase, or which occur during delivery and installation, and it applies in addition to any extra commercial guarantee that certain companies choose to offer. 

The garantie légale de conformité applies to both new and pre-used products, including cars, furniture and electronic items.

According to the regulation, sellers are required to adequately and accurately inform buyers about their products and their intended use. If the product does not comply with this information – whether due to a manufacturing fault or an inaccurate sales claim – the buyer has the right to claim a functional replacement or full reimbursement.

Specifically, you are entitled to make a claim according to the garantie légale de conformité in the following cases:

  • If the defect existed prior to purchase,

  • If the defect resulted from the packaging or assembly instructions,

  • If the defect was created during an installation carried out or supervised by the seller. 

For new products, you have up to 2 years after receiving the item to apply the garantie légale de conformité. For pre-used or second-hand products, this is reduced to 6 months.

The appeal process is free, and involves reporting and returning the product directly to the seller, or giving the seller notice by post – ideally through a lettre recommandée (registered mail). 

You will need to show proof of purchase, such as a receipt or delivery notice. 

If your appeal is successful, you may seek reparation or replacement of a product which does not comply with its specification. You also have the right to claim a full reimbursement if you return the product, or a partial reimbursement if you choose to keep the product.

You may also seek damages if you can prove that the fault has negatively impacted you financially, for example if a washing machine fault means you have to pay to use a laundromat. 

What if I ordered the product online?

The same garantie légale de conformité applies, whether you bought the product in a store or online. 

Note, however, that when you order something online or by mail in France, you have a 14-day cooling-off period (délai de rétractation) in which you may seek a full refund, whatever the reason.

If you receive a faulty product and seek a replacement using the garantie légale de conformité, the 14-day cooling off period will officially begin again once the replacement is delivered. 

What about if I bought the item on sale? 

Although some retailers might try to say otherwise, any product bought on sale remains subject to normal exchange and refund policies. 

So, if someone tries to tell you les articles soldés ne sont ni repris ni échangés (the articles on sale cannot be returned or exchanged) you should ignore them and point out your legal rights.

In case of any hidden defect, a store is required to refund or exchange the product. 

If, however, you simply changed your mind or bought the wrong size, retailers aren’t obliged to take the product back or allow you to exchange it, although many of them will. 

Conversely, if you buy something by mail order or online, you have the right to send it back within 14 days, whatever the reason, and the retailer is obliged to refund the money. This applies both to full-price and on sale items.

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FOOD & DRINK

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With rising inflation and cost of living, many people in France are desperate to keep their grocery bill low. Here are a few tips for how to avoid paying too much for food, drink and other everyday items.

7 tips to keep your grocery shopping in France affordable

With inflation ticking upward, we’ve seen prices rise, especially for things like fresh vegetables, meat, pasta and cooking oil. Even though inflation is affecting food prices less than energy prices, buying groceries is still a huge part of every household’s budget, and unfortunately things are set to keep getting more pricey. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ways you can save a few euro at the supermarket:

Figure out if you qualify for any government benefits

First things first, it is worth seeing whether you can qualify for any existing government assistance, like CAF. On top of this, the French government has promised to set up a food voucher of €50 per month for low-income households after the parliamentary elections in June. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How to receive CAF payments in France

Compare store prices

Unfortunately, going to the closest supermarket is not always the most economical solution. If you prioritise grocery stores on the lower end of the price spectrum (and you’re willing to walk a bit further) you can save a lot of money. A helpful tool to find the cheapest store near you is the “Que Choisir” online interactive map (click here) that has listed 4,000 affordable stores in mainland France. 

Discount grocery stores, like Lidl and Aldi, are great options for saving a little extra at checkout. But if you must go to a pricier chain, like Monoprix for instance, try to buy Monoprix brand items – they’re typically a little less expensive than name brand foods.

Plan ahead to make the most out of discounts

If you go online ahead of heading to the grocery store, you can see which items will be discounted (“promotion”). If you cannot find this information online, you can always go to the store and ask for a catalogue of that week’s sales items.

Normally, this is something the cashier should have access to. With these discounts in mind, you can construct more affordable recipes. 

Franprix’s website, the ‘discounts’ page

Also, if you’re looking for cheaper recipes in general, you can always go to blogs and online recipe sites specialised in frugal shopping. If you want to try some French specific sites, you can test out “https://www.marmiton.org/” or “https://1repas1euro.com/recettes/

When it comes to discounts though, be careful about conditions involved (particularly when it comes to loyalty cards).

Sometimes these promotions promise a lot, but actually getting your money back might not be as simple as slashing a few cents at the checkout – you might need to send the coupon somewhere to get the discount, or wait for points to accumulate on your card.

That being said, you can optimise your discounts using several online sites that allow you to combine your loyalty cards (Fidme, Fidall, and Stocard). Other online coupon sites include Groupon, which allows you to make grouped purchases (therefore cheaper), and Coupon Network and Shopmium, which help you benefit from existing discounts. For cashback plans, you can look to websites such as Shopmium, iGraal, FidMarques and Quoty, which allow you to be reimbursed for a part of your expenses.

Make a list, set a budget… and stick to it

It might seem obvious, but when you go into the store, try to resist temptation. The best way to do this is to keep track (in real time) how much you are spending.

Some stores make this easier by allowing you to carry around a ‘self-scanner,’ this will help you to watch your bill go up as you shop. Another tip for this is to withdraw the exact amount of cash you expect to need for the essentials of your trip – obviously in order to do this, you’ll need to know the base prices of your essential items, so it will require a bit of planning ahead.

Buy (then freeze) soon-to-expire products

A consumer’s best friend and sure-fire way to decrease waste! Items coming up on their use-by-date tend to be discounted, so if you plan to purchase these foods and then immediately freeze them, you can significantly extend their shelf life.

Lots of supermarkets make this easier for you by dedicating entire shelves to “short shelf life” items that, according to Elodie Toustou, the head of the “Money” section of the magazine 60 Millions de consommateurs, opting for these foods will allow you to “pay three to four times less.”

Another great way to do this is to use applications like “Phénix” and “Too Good to Go.” These applications will allow you to set your geographic parameter and then click on food stores, restaurants, and bakeries in your area that are getting rid of “panniers” (sacks) of soon-to-be-expired foods. Lots of times these panniers cost only a couple euros.

The trick here is to plan ahead by arriving at the start of the allotted time (if the boulangerie on your corner is offering “Too Good To Go” bags from 11am to 2pm, try to get there as close to 11am as possible for the best items).

Re-consider markets and farmer’s stores

Contrary to popular belief, buying from farmers’ markets and grocers that sell predominantly local products actually can save you money, particularly if you are buying the seasonally relevant fruits and vegetables. Buying directly from a producer can also allow you to eliminate the margin taken by intermediaries. But be careful, this rule is not true all the time.

One way to benefit from cheaper prices at markets is to arrive as late as possible, when the merchants have started to pack up their products. This might allow you to benefit from lower prices or even free items, as they’ll be hoping to get rid of their remaining items.

Know what items are most impacted by inflation

Finally, as inflation continues to increase, try your best to monitor which foods are most impacted. If possible, it might be worth removing or limiting them from your diet – or looking for more affordable alternatives.

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