Recommendation 10: “Send a dedicated document (letter or e-mail) to the customer to inform them of the future renewal of their contract and their possibility of terminating it, for the maintenance contracts subscribed to within the overall framework of an agreement previously signed with a single-family home builder”

Recommendation 10: “Send a dedicated document (letter or e-mail) to the customer to inform them of the future renewal of their contract and their possibility of terminating it, for the maintenance contracts subscribed to within the overall framework of an agreement previously signed with a single-family home builder”

1.     Observation

The complainant purchased a house from a single-family home builder. As part of the delivery of the property, ENGIE Home Services was tasked with the commissioning of a boiler and a thermodynamic hot water tank. When the technician arrived, contractual documents were handed over to the lady complainant for implementation of a maintenance contract. The complainant subsequently received a bill informing her of the forthcoming renewal of her contract. Through a consumer organisation representing her, she challenged the form of the contract.

2.     Mediation solution

After analysis of the file, it appeared that, in the context of a contract between the single-family home builder and ENGIE Home Services, the latter offered the customer an annual maintenance contract for the appliance put into service. This was a service contract for a period of one year and renewable by tacit agreement (article 3 of the General Conditions of Sale). In the light of Article L. 215-1 of the French Consumer Code, when the expiry date comes around, the professional must inform the consumer of the possibility of not renewing this contract. This information must be given no earlier than three months and no later than one month before the end of the period authorising refusal of the renewal. The deadline for non-renewal must also appear in a clearly displayed box.

In this case, the information on tacit renewal was given on a bill. This mentioned the price of the maintenance contract which the complainant was to pay for the coming year. In an insert located just above the SEPA Direct Debit Mandate, written in bold, it is indicated that “In accordance with the regulations, you have the possibility of terminating your contract by post until 05/02/2017”.

However, the aforementioned article of the French Consumer Code states that the professional should inform the consumer “in writing, by registered letter or e-mail dedicated to this purpose”. This addition clarifies the form that the information must take. This implies that ENGIE Home Services has the obligation to modify the form of the information it gave by informing the consumer by post or e-mail separately from the bill and which is devoted to the subject of tacit renewal. Therefore, in the context of a maintenance contract tacitly renewed in the framework of an agreement with a single-family home builder, the mediation team recommended the sending of a document in its own right in view of the aforementioned elements, which ENGIE Home Services duly accepted.

3.     Generic observation

In the context of the purchase of a house from a single-family home builder, ENGIE Home Services was tasked with the commissioning of thermal equipment. When the technician arrived, contractual documents were handed over to the lady complainant for implementation of a maintenance contract. The complainant subsequently received a bill informing her of the forthcoming renewal of her contract. Through a consumer organisation representing her, she challenged the form of the contract.

4.     Recommendation / generic solution

In this case, the company must supplement information for the customer by setting up a new process so that the rules regarding tacit renewal are fully respected. Within the framework of an agreement entered into with a single-family home builder, ENGIE Home Services must send a letter or e-mail specifically addressed to the consumer informing them of their right to terminate the contract before the date of renewal, and not do so on the bill, as was indicated previously.

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