Sfam and two other Indexia companies are sued
Dozens of consumers on Wednesday sued three companies belonging to the Indexia group (telephone insurance and subscription services), which was the subject of two investigations by the repression of fraud for “misleading commercial practices”, indicated to the AFP their lawyer. The 61 consumers claim to have been unduly deducted between 2018 and 2022 by the companies SFAM (French multi-risk insurance company, specializing in telephony and multimedia), Foriou (loyalty program) and Hubside (multimedia and subscription services).
The amounts vary between just over 600 euros and 15,612 euros with a relatively similar pattern for all cases: a first contract, often for insurance, was signed for a telephone or tablet before the direct debits increased and multiply to sometimes reach a total of several hundred euros per month. Consumers say they have not signed an amendment to their contract for these changes, or have never received a notification.
Lawyer Emma Leoty, who represents the 61 consumers and claims to still have hundreds of files in reserve for other actions, sent a formal notice in mid-January, consulted by AFP, to the three companies, asking them to reimbursement of “undue” deductions and 10,000 euros in damages per consumer for their “moral damage”. According to the lawyer, a first hearing should take place on April 3.
Last July, Me Leoty obtained a first conviction from Indexia, which appealed, for the file of a man deducted more than 9,000 euros in ten years. A hearing will be held on March 27. Since the broadcast of a survey in the program Envoyé Spécial on January 19, Me Leoty claims to have received hundreds of emails from consumers and a dozen calls a day. Very few customers remain unhappy, group CEO Sadri Fegaier told AFP in November, stressing that he wins “two million new customers each year at European level”. Asked Wednesday by AFP, Indexia did not wish to comment.
On a Facebook group that brings together more than 3,700 consumers, several of them claim to have received refunds since the broadcast of Special Envoy, but new testimonials are also increasing.
Two proceedings in progress
The summons to the Paris court, served on Wednesday by a bailiff and consulted by AFP, is in addition to ongoing criminal proceedings, following a second investigation into the repression of fraud against the group. An initial investigation by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) concluded that there were “misleading commercial practices” concerning the sales methods of Indexia companies.
As part of a criminal transaction, the group had agreed to pay around 10 million euros, thus avoiding prosecution. A second investigation, this time for “deceptive marketing practices” over contract termination policy, was opened after reports of consumers continuing to be charged after requesting termination of their subscription. Six Indexia group companies and their CEO Sadri Fegaier are to be tried soon by the Paris Criminal Court.
On January 10, the Court of Cassation also rejected, in a judgment consulted by AFP, the requests of Indexia, which had appealed against the orders having in particular authorized a search of its premises in September 2020 within the framework of the DGCCRF investigation. Media inquiries have increased in recent months. UFC Que Choisir, a civil party to the upcoming trial, has identified hundreds, if not thousands, of consumer complaints about sales techniques, refund policy and “undue” deductions from group companies.
MP Danielle Brulebois (Renaissance) tabled at the end of February a bill co-signed by 24 MPs intended to “frame the terms of subscription and termination of affinity insurance contracts (supplementary insurance offer whose subscription is made at the time of the purchase of a good, editor’s note) in order to best preserve the rights of consumers”. According to the specialized media l’Argus de l’assurance, Indexia is also subject to control by the banking and insurance police (ACPR). Asked, the latter did not wish to comment.