- Introduction to La Poste
- French Postal Tariffs and Services
- La Poste Parcel Delivery
- Private Parcel Delivery
- Parcel Delivery Problems
- French Postcodes
- La Banque Postale
- Complaints Procedure
- Glossary of French Postal Terms
Much of the legal framework is now European wide, as a result of EU regulations.
In French law, the sender is responsible for the loss or damage to a parcel, until it is received by the purchaser, with Article L126-4 of the Code de la Consommation stating:
'Tout risque de perte ou d'endommagement des biens est transféré au consommateur au moment où ce dernier ou un tiers désigné par lui, et autre que le transporteur proposé par le professionnel, prend physiquement possession de ces biens.'
i. Late Delivery
The most common problem encountered is late delivery of the goods.
In the case of on-line sales, the law requires that suppliers notify the buyer of the actual date for delivery of the item, which must be within 30 days of the order.
Accordingly, a supplier cannot get away with laconic assurances that delivery will be in ‘three weeks’. They are required to give a precise latest date for delivery, eg 23rd December 2022.
If it is not delivered on the specified date you can cancel the order, but only provided the date of delivery is stated as 'essential' in the contract.
Otherwise, in relation to on-line sales, in the event that delivery does not occur within 7 days you are entitled to cancel your order.
ii. Following the Order
The supplier cannot require use of a premium-rate telephone number to follow orders made or for other enquiries.
iii. Cooling Off Period
You have 14 days from receipt of goods to withdraw from the purchase. No reasons need be given. This right to withdraw does not apply to travel or concert tickets, food and drink, personalised goods or DVDs you have unsealed.
iv. Lost Parcel
If the supplier advises you they have posted the parcel, but it appears to have gone missing, then this does not exonerate them from their responsibility. The fact that the parcel may have been lost by the delivery company is of no concern of the buyer.
If you complain about non-receipt of the parcel, the supplier is either obliged to prove it has been delivered to you (signed receipt), or to send you replacement goods.
However, they are entitled to make their own enquiries before they do so, a process that may take several weeks. In such circumstances, you may simply want to cancel your order and seek a full refund.
v. Parcels at La Poste
If the postman advises you that a parcel awaits your collection at the post office (by a notice called an avis de passage), then you have 14 days in which to collect it.
If you fail to collect within this timescale La Poste will send the parcel back to the supplier. You need to be careful here, as this does not signal non-delivery of the item, and grants you no automatic right to cancel the order. You need to make contact with the supplier, who is likely to impose an additional delivery charge.
vi. Damaged Goods
If the goods arrive, but have been damaged during transportation, you need to act quickly. You have three days (excluding Sundays and public holidays) in which to send a recorded delivery letter of complaint to the delivery company.
You should also copy the letter into the supplier. You would be well advised to provide photographic supporting evidence.
A better idea, particularly if you have the slightest doubt, is to examine the parcel before the delivery lorry departs. If it is damaged, then refuse to accept delivery and indicate your refusal on the delivery note (bon de livraison) that you will be requested to sign.
You can also accept delivery but mention on the receipt document réserves émises, colis endommagé. Indeed, some companies insist on you checking the parcel and stating the problem on the bon de liveraison but it is of dubious legal validity.
The supplier has 14 days in which to reimburse you following your claim, after which you can claim interest on the outstanding sum, although you would probably need to go to court to enforce it.
The level of the reimbursement includes the delivery charge paid, but does not include the cost of sending the product back to the seller, which is at the cost of the buyer, but only provided the supplier advised you it would be at your cost at the time of the order.
In the first instance you need to complain to the delivery company, who are required to have in place a 'Service Client' section able to take such complaints. For private companies there is no external body to whom you can complain so if you cannot obtain a satisfactory response you need to consider legal action. Note though that for commercial deliveries the supplier has a legal obligation of delivery, so it may be better to tackle them.
As far as La Poste are concerned, they do offer an English speaking service, although it is often difficult to reach. You can contact them on 3631 from France, or +33-810821821 from abroad.
You can read more in our section on the Complaints Procedure for La Poste.
The Guides to France are published for general information only.
Please visit our Disclaimer for full details.