Subscribing to services
Competitive markets open to all
In France, consumers have complete freedom to choose their service provider. However, tariffs for some energy suppliers are still regulated.
The principle of free competition
In France, the telecommunications and energy markets are open to competition. For the landline, mobile telephone, television, internet access, gas and electricity, consumers can subscribe to the provider of their choice, whatever their nationality and whether they are the owner or tenant of a property. There is however one exception: the water provider is often determined by the town of residence. Water markets are attributed to a provider on a town-by- town basis and inhabitants are bound by these municipal contracts.
Particularities in terms of energy
The opening of gas and electricity markets to competition is recent in France. As a result, many people have remained with the suppliers who have always had the monopoly: EDF for electricity and GDF for gas.
EDF and GDF prices are still “regulated”, which means that the rates they can charge are controlled by the government. However, there are other energy suppliers offering non-regulated prices. Consumers are free to pick the supplier of their choice. Moreover, the historic suppliers can offer unregulated prices to their subscribers for both the electricity and gas supply.
To continue or not the previous resident's subscription
Regarding energy, if the previous resident had chosen a supplier with an unregulated tariff, the new occupant can continue to enjoy it, but remains free to switch back to a regulated rate if preferred, and vice versa. Bear in mind that it can take up to 2 weeks to switch to a new supplier.
Different payment options : cheque, TIP
All subscribers are free to choose amongst the various payment options available: cheque, standing order, payment by phone (using your credit card number) or the TIP (Titre interbancaire de paiement). The TIP is a coupon attached to the bottom of the bill, which must be returned to the sender signed and dated for the bank to authorize payment. When used for the first time, the customer's RIB (bank ID slip) must be sent along with the TIP; thereafter it is filled out automatically.
With a cheque, TIP or payment by phone, the customer pays upon receipt of the bill. With standing orders, the consumer knows that payment will be made on a fixed date, without any risk of delay.
Should you terminate your subscription, the supplier cannot demand payment of any fee after a maximum period of 3 months.
© All Contents, Laurence de PERCIN, janvier 2014.