a quarter of operators have unfair commercial practices, according to the DGCCRF

Offers “unclear” Or “falsely presented”, “breaches of the rules of distance selling”… In a opinion delivered Monday September 11, the General Directorate for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) is targeting telephone and Internet operators. After a survey carried out in 2021 among forty-two establishments, “more than a quarter [28,6 %] professionals checked are abnormal”criticizes the DGCCRF.

The fraud repression is particularly attentive to the practices of this sector, which it subjects to an investigation every year, “given the important place it occupies in the daily life of the French”. Telecoms are also a source of numerous disputes: in 2021, the DGCCRF received 5,026 consumer complaints relating to electronic communications companies, around 5% more than in 2020. “A significant proportion of these complaints concerned abuses concerning contractual and pricing changes that could not be refused by customers”specifies the repression of fraud.

For almost three years, price increases of a few euros during subscriptions have been increasingly common among operators. Legal, the practice is regulated by the Consumer Code (article L. 224-33): the modification can only be imposed on the consumer provided that it is clear and that he is informed of it at least one month from in advance, by mail, e-mail or telephone. And if he wants to avoid it, the customer can cancel his subscription. “Some operators allow their customers to refuse price changes if this is included in the contract”specifies the DGCCRF.

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“Hidden subscription”

Two particular defects were brought to light by the services of the Ministry of the Economy during their investigation. The first consists of “offer subscription offers at advantageous prices by presenting them as limited in time (…) to encourage consumers to quickly subscribe. In reality, these offers follow one another at short intervals or overlap to result in a permanent offer which lures the consumer.deciphers the DGCCRF.

Second deception: one “hidden subscription” Or “an unwanted subscription” to a service. This last case concerns a single company, whose name is not disclosed, and for which fraud repression received ninety complaints from customers having “noticed an increase in the amount of their telephone bill after an unwanted subscription to one of the services published by the company”. An administrative fine was imposed against him. The French Telecoms Federation, which represents fifteen telecoms groups, including operators Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SFR, did not wish to comment, as the work of the DGCCRF targets individual practices.

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