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Scam alert: Too good to be true home firewood offers in France

Warning signs include markedly low prices and fast delivery offers, during a period of rising costs and slower deliveries caused by soaring demand

A photo of a man loading a wood-burning stove with wood

The price of wood and wood pellets has increased, and demand has soared, putting consumers at higher risk of scams Pic: SpeedKingz / Shutterstock

People with wood-burning stoves in France are being warned to watch out for online website scams relating to apparently ‘low-cost’ heating wood and wood pellets, with cheap and fast delivery.

Consumer association UFC-Que Choisir raised the alert after several people reported having ordered wood or wood pellets – with ‘fast delivery’ – online. 

But instead of receiving their delivery, the buyers found that their bank account had been charged, and in some cases, by hundreds of euros, or even up to €1,000. 

After the payment, the ‘sellers’ are uncontactable, and the bank is unlikely to offer victims a refund because the payment was ‘authorised’ by the client.

UFC-Choisir has identified some scam websites, some of which are already closed, but others that remain open.

These include: 

  • Bois-ecologique.com

  • Bois-energie-plus.com

Users should not visit or purchase from these websites, and stay alert to websites that appear to offer ‘too-good-to-be-true’ offers.

How can I detect a scam site?

When using websites online, UFC-Choisir recommends staying alert to clues that the site is a scam, including:

  • Low prices or overly attractive promotions

  • Very fast or cheap delivery offers

  • Spelling mistakes

  • Payment by bank transfer, with the obligation to prove the confirmation of the bank transaction before receiving the order. 

"Online shopping on trusted sites does not use such devious processes," said UFC-Que Choisir. It also recommends that users should check whether others have left reviews of the site in question on the web. 

Purportedly fast delivery times should ring alarm bells particularly, as legitimate producers have been struggling to meet increased demand, making delivery periods longer, not shorter.  

If you suspect a scam, you are invited to report it on the official scam alert website, Internet-signalement.gouv.fr or by contacting "Info escroqueries" on 0 805 805 817 (free number, Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 18.30).

What if I fall victim to the scam? 

If you have already placed an order on a fraudulent site, report it to the police, stop using your bank card and contact your bank, even if the chances of getting your money back may be slim.

This scam comes during a period of rising electricity costs, as well as rising wood costs, as more people turn towards the wood-fired method.

The value per tonne of pellets has more than doubled in 2022 compared to the same time in 2021, while rising energy and fuel prices have also increased the cost of production and distribution.

Read more: Wood pellet shortages in France cause prices to soar

Experts have said that stocks are ‘under strain’ as people are preparing for winter early and seeking alternative means of heating as a result of soaring electricity prices, and more people are entering the wood-burning stove market each year.

Related articles

Can I get French tax credit for a wood-burning stove?

France plans to boost greener home wood burners with extra grants

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