France: Law against phone cold calling in place from today

From today (September 1) companies and individuals can no longer make telephone cold calls offering eco-friendly home renovation services in France. Those who do face sanctions.

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The blanket ban means that those who continue to try and sell eco-friendly home renovation services by telephone face heavy fines. Individuals could be fined €75,000 for breaking the law and companies up to €375,000 (compared with the previous amounts of €3,000 for individuals and €15,000 for companies).

Other sectors have not been banned from making sales cold calls by telephone, but the new law will limit the times of day and how often they can call clients.

Law a result of abusive sales call practice

The law has come into place following accusations that companies were harassing potential clients by phone. Some clients claimed they were being called up to 20 times a day by the same company, at all hours of day and night.

There were also complaints that the products being sold were not up to standard, as with the “€1 interior insulation” scam based on a subsidy scheme to support eco-friendly home renovations.

Édouard Barthès, founder of EBS Isolation and president of energy renovation union Symbiote, told news source La Depeche: “the €1 interior insulation package definitely exists. It’s a package financed mostly by energy providers. The worry is that there are companies that would add these services as if they were being provided by the state.”

In this situation, Mr Barthès says: “Consumers were lost because they didn’t know how to distinguish between serious companies and those who were not.”

Building companies running the scam would collect the full subsidy for work that was poorly or only partially completed, leaving homeowners with a huge repair bill after they had been promised they would only have to pay €1.

Between August 2018 and August 2019, 1,770 complaints were lodged with the Fraud watchdog, Direction de la Répression des Fraudes (DGCCRF), 20% more than in the previous year.

What can I do if I get a fraudulent sales call?

  • Sign up for government service Bloctel to add your name to an official list of individuals and professionals who do not wish to receive sales calls.
  • Write down the name and telephone number of the company that calls you. Pass this information on to the DGCCRF, who can use it to identify who is making the calls.
  • Don’t sign anything. Some companies will ask you to sign a document to confirm that they have called by telephone or at your door. Don’t sign anything in the moment. Take your time to read over any contracts.

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