Supermarkets in France

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What you need to know about promotions: promotions appearing in supermarket commercials, for example in catalogues distributed to the households, valid for a certain period indicated on the catalogue, must be available throughout the promotional period in sufficient quantity. If they are not, the supermarket must accept an order for the missing products within the announced period so you can buy the quantity you want at the price mentioned in the catalogue. This is stated by French law and several court decisions. Despite this, availability of promotional products remains a problem in some supermarkets, and a higher price than the promotional price is sometimes appearing on the sales ticket. Staff may be unwilling to accept orders and/or be ignorant about their obligation to accept such orders. In such cases, don’t hesitate to complain to the supermarket director and/or HQ of the supermarket chain and insist on your rights. You may also want to inform the government’s consumer authority DGCCRF that can visit the supermarket to verify prices and conditions and in the worst cases prosecute them. Even though it could seem to be nitpicking, expenses for food can easily be the highest budget post for a family. Optimising food expenses is only sound budgeting.

Bonial. Promotion catalogues online. Find the catalogues for your town.

Which company is behind the brands? Most companies sell under several brands. Wikipedia has a long list under the washing machine article. Online retailers also often use more than one trade name and website. One way of finding out who is behind a trade name is to look up the company on infogreffe, the official French company register.

Virgin Megastore France
FNAC – the French answer to Virgin Megastore.

Metro. Cash and Carry France. Large business supply stores. Access for registered businesses only.
Auchan. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Boulanger. One of the mainstream chain stores. Real shops and online shopping. Nothing to do with bakeries. Two years’ warranty. HTM group, majority owned by Auchan family.
BUT. Low-end.
Conforama. Mid-range.
Carrefour. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Cora. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Darty. One of the mainstream chain stores. Real shops and online shopping. Don’t get fooled by their “Contrat de confiance” that claims to include two years’ warranty. In case of doubt, the French tradition of the customer always being wrong is practised just as elsewhere, and their technicians don’t always know how to fix faulty appliances.
Électro Dépôt. Discount stores. No delivery. HTM group, majority owned by Auchan family.
E. Leclerc. One of the large chain stores. Also supermarket.
Grosbill. Supermarket chain Auchan’s online shop with many competitive prices.
MisterGoodDeal. Less choice than for example Amazon but many promotions.
Redcoon. Low-cost electronics online store. Quick delivery.
Webdistrib. Online store. HTM group, majority owned by Auchan family.

AVOID: Surcouf went into receivership in March 2012. It is now for sale. It is impossible to predict if it survives or goes into liquidation. In the latter case, any claim against them is lost (prepaid goods, warranty for defect goods).
AVOID: priceforce.fr. Late delivery. Product listed in stock but unavailable. Different and more expensive products shipped. Refund problems. See article by the consumer association UFC.
AVOID: Maismoinscher and Cdispo. Both are or were brands for FULL TECH, company now in liquidation that sells on Amazon France Marketplace. Because of financial difficulties, CANDY SUD leased the Maismoinscher brand in March, but it is unclear what happens to the lease agreement now FULL TECH is in liquidation. You tread in uncharted waters if you buy from these companies, and you risk losing your money.

Buy online or in shop? For smaller items, buying online is more and more common. However, for white goods, it’s not always obvious. There are several factors to take into account:
– Price including delivery. There are deals to be had online, but the mainstream retailers also have the occasional good offer.
– Delivery time.
– Warranty. Essentially, only the mainstream stores Darty and Boulanger give you two years’ warranty while other retailers give you one year and some online retailers limit warranty to the strict legal minimum (i.e. the Code civil’s warranty against hidden defects without time limit, the two-year ‘conformity’ warranty according to EU law (in the Code de la consommation in French law), and the manufacturer’s warranty if any). However, it’s not enough to have a piece of paper or a law saying you have two years’ warranty if the retailer does everything possible to avoid facing up to his responsibilities, such as it is often the case in France. Both Darty’s and Boulanger’s after-sales service have managed to obtain only a score of 1.5 out of the maximum of 5 stars, which is a very poor performance. Despite many years of commercials over the theme ‘the confidence contract’ (le contrat de confiance), even Darty sometimes attempts to flee their warranty obligations. In any case, it may be a good idea to have a legal insurance behind you. Don’t forget that you’re in France and that retailers’ knee-jerk reaction is to claim that any defect is your own fault and to keep discussing to avoid repairing defect goods. Too many French retailers think they can just ship merchandise and then forget all about customer service (SAV – service après vente in French).
– In case of defects, do you have to return the device or will the retailer send a technician? Returning a washing machine could be complicated and expensive.
– Will the retailer lend you a device while they repair yours? It’s not easy to be without a fridge, freezer, cooker, washing machine … even for just a few days.
– Financial stability of the retailer. It’s not enough to have a warranty if the retailer has gone bankrupt when you need it.
– Reliability of the retailer. Will they actually ship the device within the delivery deadline agreed?
– Help with installation? Maybe DIY minded folks don’t need it, but not everybody can do it themselves.
– Do they take your old device back?

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