New French law protects phone purchases from unwanted insurance

Customers can often come away with an insurance policy they did not ask for, and currently only have 14 days in which to cancel

A new law aims to protect consumers from getting stuck in mobile phone insurance policies that they did not ask for
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Mobile phone retailers are being targeted by consumer groups and a new law making it more difficult for them to charge customers for insurance that they do not want.

Retailers and telecoms companies selling devices such as mobile phones have been accused of adding an insurance policy that was not requested by the customer onto the bill.

MPs have therefore voted through a law which has doubled the cooling-off period in which people can cancel insurance contracts applied to mobile phone purchases.

From January 1, people finding out that they have signed up to a phone insurance policy without realising will have 30 days in which to cancel it for free, as opposed to 14 days at the moment.

The law also stipulates that the cooling-off period begins when a first payment is made, so as to avoid a situation in which a retailer offers the first month free without reminding the customer that after 14 – or 30 – days, they are committed for the length of the contract.

Customers wanting to cancel their insurance must do so by providing a “durable” notice to this effect, such as a letter, an email or a message sent through their online account.

The insurer must then reimburse them for the amount paid already within 30 days of their cancellation.

A decree to this effect was published in the government’s legal publication Le Journal officiel on December 5.

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

This measure was welcomed by consumer organisations and the Médiateur de l’assurance, which had been calling for such a step for over a year.

Some 6% of the queries and complaints sent to the Médiateur in 2021 relate to unwanted phone and tablet insurance policies, with consumers complaining that they were not provided with written confirmation or information on the policy taken out.

France’s Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF) has also launched legal action over the actions of insurance company Indexia, which is accused of continuing to debit customer accounts even when they have cancelled their contracts.

In 2019, the company had already been required to pay a €10million fine to the DGCCRF for dishonest commercial practices.

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