The investigation revealed “practices consisting in falsely making consumers wishing to stop direct debits believe that their requests were taken into account, or even effective”.
The repression of fraud transmitted to the Prosecutor of the Republic of the Paris judicial court the conclusions of its investigation concerning suspicions of commercial practices “misleadingof the Indexia group, she announced in a press release on Monday.
Through several companies such as SFAM, the Indexia group markets, among other things, services to insure telephones and computers as well as subscriptions to obtain reductions after purchase (cashback). The investigation, carried out over several months, revealed “practices consisting in misleading consumers wishing to stop direct debits, terminate their subscriptions and be reimbursed for the sums debited after termination of their contract, that their requests were taken into account, or even effective“, reported the general direction of competition, consumption and the repression of fraud (DGCCRF).
A fine of 10 million euros
If these practices were to be proven, they would be “particularly serious“, since they would constitute “deceptive marketing practices“, she added. “When buying my computer in 2015, I agreed to take out insurance, without paying attention to the direct debitsPaola, a former SFAM client, told AFP. “When I realized that the amounts were increasing each month, I asked my bank to stop the charges and I harassed the company by telephone who assured me that I would be well reimbursed. I ended up giving up and I never recovered the 500 euros that had been taken from me in four years“, she confides.
But other abused customers alerted the UFC-Que Choisir consumer association and sent reports to the DGCCRF, which conducted an initial investigation in 2018 and searched the headquarters of the SFAM. The investigation ended the following year with a fine of 10 million euros accepted by the SFAM, which proved to have no significant impact on the group’s growth.
However, the DGCCRF continued to receivehundreds of reports“According to UFC-Que Choisir, which found that the companies of the Indexia group would have resorted to practices, if they were proven, “with the sole objective of making everyone give up“Explains to AFP Raphael Bartlomé, head of the legal department of the consumer association. The latter hopes that this time the investigation will lead to the rapid opening of a trial, so that consumers can be compensated automatically.
Following similar complaints, the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority on March 2 banned the Belgian subsidiary of SFAM, “Change», to market its insurance products on the territory.