Bill to stop barrage of annoying cold callers

There is potential good news for readers fed-up with persistent cold calls – particularly from firms selling insulation for €1

21 March 2020
Cold calls offering €1 insulation deals could soon be banned
By Jane Hanks

A new amendment to an anti-cold calling bill, making it illegal for firms to promote home renovation, energy-saving products or services by telephone, is expected to become law in the next few months.

Finance Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said complaints about these calls soared by 20% between 2018 and 2019 and strengthening the law is a necessity.

The bill aims to make unsolicited marketing calls illegal outside Monday to Saturday office hours. It also introduces tougher sanctions to improve Bloctel, the much-criticised free-to-use government-backed service, where members of the public can register their wish not to receive sales telephone calls.

Firms using cold calling have to send lists of prospective clients to Bloctel and strike out anyone who has elected not to receive calls. In practice, most ignore this requirement, so the bill increases the maximum fine for companies who do not comply from €75,000 to €375,000. 

Eleven consumer associations, including campaigning magazine UFC-Que Choisir, say this does not go far enough and have launched a petition demanding an “opt-in” system. They say all unsolicited marketing calls should be made illegal unless you actively choose to receive them.

Is the €1 insulation offer genuine?

The majority of cold calls propose insulation for €1. Readers ask: Is it a genuine offer?

Yes. Its cost to the consumer is so low because the rest of the bill is paid by energy providers (EDF, Engie, Total, etc). They have a legal obligation to spend a certain sum on improving energy efficiency, under the premise that the polluter pays. These certificats d’économies d’énergie (CEEs) are seen as a key to making France greener but they are getting a bad name as some companies exploit loopholes in the law and make money by carrying out shoddy work with low-paid workers.

Is it mandatory to take up the offer?

No, even though some cold callers suggest that it is.

What can I do to make sure I get a good result?

This is one of many government schemes to make your home more energy-efficient. For all of them, you can get advice at faire.gouv.fr.
Under the heading Particuliers, you can find who to contact near you for free advice – either to call or visit.

To find a trustworthy company, you should take the initiative yourself, and government advice is to contact two or three local artisans from the
official list of RGE (Reconnu garant de l’environnement) authorised firms listed at faire.gouv.fr.

Make sure they make the obligatory visit to your property to assess work to be done before you decide who to take on. Read all documents carefully before you sign. If you have signed and want to retract, you have 14 days from signing to do so.

What can I do if the work has been done badly and I want to complain?

If the work has been done by an RGE- registered company, you can fill in a form available at Entreprise RGE:Réclamation at faire.gouv.fr.

You can also register your complaint via a new online government initiative, SignalConso, launched in Feb-ruary. You will be told if you have a valid complaint and, if so, what steps to take. SignalConso may also inform the firm of your complaint, which can be anonymous, and ask it to rectify the problem. If it is judged to be a case of fraud, SignalConso will pass on your case to the Fraud Department, DGCCRF.

See signal.conso.gouv.fr.

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