SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

MONEY

Your consumer rights for French sales

As the official French sales begin, here's what you need to know about the sales season, including your all important consumer rights.

Your consumer rights for French sales
France's winter sales run for four weeks. Photo: Fred Tanneau/AFP

Wednesday, January 12th, marks the first day of the winter soldes (sales) for the vast majority of France.

In most parts of France they last until Tuesday, February 8th.

There are however regional exceptions to this rule, including the départements of Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle and Vosges where the sales have already started and France’s overseas départements.

The sale season is a big deal because such promotions in France are limited to just two periods of the year, with the dates set by the government.

Unlike other year-round discounts, les soldes are highly regulated.

  • Promotional items must have been on sale for at least a month before being offered at a discount price.
  • Shops can slash their prices because for them it’s about clearing their stock during the sales period. During the sales period and ONLY during the sales period stores are allowed to sell at a loss.
  • Sale items must also be clearly marked and separated from non-sale items with the before and after price plainly visible. Online stores must also abide by these rules.
  • Stores are forbidden from hiking the prices of items before the sales period to make falsely it appear as though it is offering huge discounts during the soldes.

Despite the rules being strict, consumer groups still advise shoppers to be cautious especially when shopping online.

Alexandre Chevallier from the France’s anti-consumer fraud body DGCCRF says: “We always advise the customer to take the time to look at the different online offers on a product. Before you buy, check the offers, the guarantees, the details, the means and delivery times … By taking the time to compare everything you will be vigilant.”

Can I exchange my bargains?

Although some retailers might try to say the contrary, any product bought on sale is still subject to normal exchange and refund policies.

So if you are told or shown something like les articles soldés ne sont ni repris ni échangés  (the articles on sale cannot be returned or exchanged) you should ignore it and point out your rights.

In case of a hidden defect, the store is required to refund or exchange the product. But beware this is only for defects that were not apparent in the store, for example an electrical item that doesn’t work.

But if you just changed your mind or bought the wrong size, the retailers aren’t obliged to take it back or allow you to exchange, although many of them will.

However if you buy something by mail order or through the internet you do have the right to send it back within 14 days and the retailer is obliged to refund the money.

“This is the fundamental difference between online and offline sales,” added Chevallier.

“You do not need a reason or proof to cancel an order online, even during the sales. Keep in mind that this right runs from the day after receipt of the package and lasts 14 days.”

Are the French soldes unique?

France is somewhat distinctive for being one of the few European countries with such strictly-regulated sales. Most other countries offer sales starting after Christmas but with fewer restrictions and flexible dates. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

LIVING IN FRANCE

Property bargains, energy prices, and myth-busting: 6 essential articles for life in France

Where you could bag a property bargain in France, how energy prices aren’t soaring in France, and why the leaves are falling earlier than usual - plus a couple of myths well and truly busted - here are six essential articles for life in France.

Property bargains, energy prices, and myth-busting: 6 essential articles for life in France

While French cities such as Paris are notoriously expensive, there are many areas outside the cities where it is still possible to buy spacious homes for less than €100,000 – particularly if you don’t mind a bit of renovation.

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

Speaking of property – here’s some potential good news for some second-home owners; the French government has put in place a new online process for regular visitors in France to get a carte de séjour – here’s who is eligible for this and how to apply.

Can second-home owners in France get a carte de séjour?

Reasons to be cheerful about living in France: as energy prices soar around Europe, France is the notable exception where most people have seen no significant rise in their gas or electricity bills – so what lies behind this policy?

And no, it’s not because the French would riot if their bills exploded, or not entirely, anyway.

EXPLAINED: Why are French energy prices capped?

It might look like autumn outside in certain parts of France, but it certainly feels like summer.

So, why are the leaves falling from the trees? And what does that mean for your garden?

Reader question: Why are the leaves falling in summer and does that mean my garden is dead?

The Da Vinci Code starts here – with the legend of a penniless priest who once stumbled upon gold hidden in the French countryside. It’s a story that still inspires treasure-hunters.

We look deeper into the myth – and help you decide if you should stock up on a shovel and a metal detector.

French history myths: There is buried treasure in Rennes-le-Château

Speaking of myths, apparently, kids and long train journeys do mix…

Hoping to do his bit for the planet, perhaps save some money and avoid spending any time at Charles de Gaulle airport, The Local’s Europe editor Ben McPartland decided to travel 2,000km with his family from Paris to southern Portugal by train rather than plane.

Here’s what he had to say about the experience.

Yes, train travel from France across Europe is far better than flying – even with kids

SHOW COMMENTS