Too good to be true firewood offers for the home in France

Woodstove owners in France are warned to beware of scams on websites for seemingly ‘cheap’ wood and pellet heating, with fast and cheap delivery.

The consumer association UFC-Que Choisir gave the alert after several people reported having ordered wood or wood pellets – with “fast delivery” – online.

But instead of receiving their delivery, the buyers found that their bank account had been debited, and in some cases by hundreds of euros, even up to €1,000.

After the payment, the “sellers” are unreachable and the bank is unlikely to offer a refund to the victims because the payment has been “authorized” by the customer.

UFC-Choisir has identified a few fraudulent sites, some of which are already closed, but others remain open.

These include:

  • Bois-ecologique.com

  • Wood-energy-plus.com

Users should not visit or buy from these websites and be wary of websites that appear to offer “too good to be true” deals.

How to detect a fraudulent site?

When using websites online, UFC-Choisir recommends staying alert to signs that the site is a scam, including:

  • Low prices or overly attractive promotions

  • Very fast or cheap delivery offers

  • spelling mistakes

  • Payment by bank transfer, with the obligation to prove confirmation of the bank transaction before receiving the order.

“Online purchases on trusted sites do not use such sneaky processes,” says UFC-Que Choisir. It also recommends users to check if other people have left reviews about the site in question on the web.

The allegedly fast delivery times should particularly raise alarm bells, as legitimate producers are struggling to keep up with increased demand, making delivery times longer, not shorter.

If you suspect a scam, you are invited to report it on the official scam alert website, Internet-signalement.gouv.fr or by contacting “Info scams” on 0 805 805 817 (free number, Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 6.30 p.m.).

What if I am a victim of the scam?

If you’ve ever placed an order on a fraudulent site, report it to the police, stop using your credit card and contact your bank, even if the chances of you getting a refund are slim.

This scam comes during a time of rising electricity costs, as well as rising wood prices, as more and more people turn to the wood method.

The value per ton of pellets more than doubled in 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, while rising energy and fuel prices also increased the cost of production and distribution.

Read more: Shortage of wood pellets in France drives up prices

Experts said stocks are ‘under pressure’ as people prepare early for winter and look for alternative means of heating due to soaring electricity prices, and more people are entering the wood-burning stove market every year.

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