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Do I have redress over exorbitant garage bill?

I have had my car repaired as it was failing to start and have been given an excessive bill. It includes a charge for changing the oil, which I did not request. Do I have any redress? M.G. 

I have had my car repaired as it was failing to start and have been given an excessive bill. It includes a charge for changing the oil, which I did not request. Do I have any redress? M.G.

You do not specify if you received anything in writing. Before any work that may end up costly it is advisable for the garage to give you an ordre de réparation, or a devis. The former details the nature of the repair and an estimated cost, the latter gives a breakdown of the price. Neither is obligatory but without them it is difficult to prove what you asked for.

If you have something in writing and the final price is excessive compared to what was agreed you have a clear legal recourse; the same applies if work was done which is not in the document without asking you first.

As a general rule, garages are legally required to put up their prices in the public area and the bill should reflect these. Apart from this, or unless there was something in writing, they are free to set their prices so it may be difficult to prove fees applied were ‘exorbitant’.

There is also a general legal principle that a business should not charge for work that was not requested (article L122-3 Code de la Consommation).

Should you wish to ask for a reimbursement for work you did not ask for, or for costs in excess of normal / agreed tariffs, you could write putting the garage on notice to reimburse you, called mise en demeure (with wording such as je vous mets en demeure de me réstituer la somme de...I put you on notice to reimburse the sum of...) and giving a date when you will take further action. For example, à défaut de paiement dans les 8 jours je saisirai la jurisdiction compétente (if not paid in 8 days I will apply to the relevant court).

If necessary you would apply to the small claims court – tribunal de proximité. This is done in writing and handed in at the office of your local tribunal d’instance (see service-pub- lic.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/ F1785). This is free, unless you pay an avocat to help (in which case you may receive legal aid, aide juridictionnelle, depending on your means).

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