‘France’s new repair grant for appliances is great – in theory’

Getting her pink kettle fixed through the government’s ecological repair scheme proves easier said than done for writer Samantha David

I have a groovy pink kettle in my farmhouse kitchen.

I bought it 10 years ago for €25 but now it has stopped switching off automatically, meaning I have to stand over it while it boils or risk the whitewash being progressively steamed off the ceiling beams.

I did try fixing it myself with the help of an enthusiastic video made by a handy young guy in Hong Kong, but failed miserably.

It could not be simpler, apparently

Then I read about the government’s new ecological repair scheme: they are giving cash grants to encourage people like me to get a kettle mended, rather than turning to Amazon for a new one (no pink items in our local kettle shop).

So I read up about the bonus réparation at ecosystem.eco, where I discovered that I could get €10 towards the cost of repairing my kettle.

It could not be simpler: the site has lists of repair shops covering the whole of France, and there is one just a half-hour drive from me.

Read more: New grant launches to repair home goods in France: how much for what?

Who spends €300 on an electric kettle?

So I rang up and asked how much the repair would cost. “Depends what’s wrong with it,” the man said, so I explained. “Hmmm, could be anything,” he replied.

So I asked for a ball-park figure. “Impossible to say, but it’s usually not worth repairing a kettle you bought for €25,” he said. “It’s only worth it if it’s something that cost, like, €300 initially.”

I boggled. Who spends €300 on an electric kettle? Is that even a thing?

“So I’d have to bring it over for you to have a look at it?”

He agreed that, yes, I’d have to deliver the kettle, leave it with him for 10 days, and then if I did not accept the quote for the repair, I’d have to pay him €15 for his diagnostic work.

Or I could get €15 off the price of a new kettle in his shop which, he said, was only stocked with good quality kettles (presumably costing up to €300!).

Read more: Why the price of household electrical appliances is rising in France

The government’s €10 grant was rapidly losing its attraction

Spending an hour driving there and back to deliver the kettle, plus ditto to collect it (think of the petrol), plus I’d have to do without a kettle for 10 days and I could end up with a broken kettle plus a bill for €15, because if the repair cost more than €35, even with the grant it would not be worth it.

“You are listed on the bonus réparation website,” I reminded him.

“That was my daughter,” he said. “And she doesn’t repair kettles. She just does the books.”

At which point I gave up.

Read more: Repair Cafés: a way to save broken items from the bin in France

Fabulous idea did not work for me

I daresay there are other, more positive, repair shops but the nearest alternatives are all nearly an hour away.

The government’s scheme to help pay for repairs is marvellous in every sense and I am completely in awe of them for doing it.

But it is sad that such a fabulous idea is not quite translating on the ground.

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