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I am an Indian citizen and have been living in Paris, France since May 2014. At the end of April 2015, I will be leaving France. How early or late should I go about disconnection of utilities (electricity, internet)?

Should I wait until the last week or should I start disconnecting by "disengaging my contract" with various utility companies online immediately? My fear is that if I disengage my contract right NOW, I will be without utilities in April. However, I also fear that if I wait too long, then if there is some back-and-forth documentation that I need to deal with, I will fail to complete it.

I currently have an EDF account for electricity and the contract runs until end of April as per my online account. My internet/telephone is managed by Orange France and it is "sans engagement".

Unfortunately don't have any French speaking friends who can do this on my behalf and my French is not up to scratch and I generally fail in getting through the company switchboard's automatic message system which is in French. If you are thinking how I got it connected in the first place: my landlord was my "French intermediary" but he is not in the country until late April.

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This FAQ from EDF indicates that you can do it at any time and don't need to do it advance (“sans préavis“). You will need to collect a meter reading 24 hours before leaving and call EDF again at this time. This other page suggests that stopping the contract about 10 days before leaving is best, in case a technician needs to come for some reason (I think it's particularly relevant if you can't check or access the meter yourself but in this case they would charge you for that).

It's quite a long time since I have had to do this myself but I think it should now be possible through the “espace client” part of the website. You can also enter your email address and the date you will move out in the form on the right-hand side on this page (“je reviendrai plus tard“) to receive a reminder when EDF thinks it's time to do it.

Regarding the Internet/telephone, the Orange website suggests that you really need to cancel the contract by phone so unfortunately it seems you will need to wait for your landlord or find another French-speaking person. Once you have contacted Orange, you would receive a confirmation immediately and the contract would stop ten days later at the earliest. But you can also do it in advance and specify a later date if you want to. Note that moving abroad apparently entitles you to cancel your contract without fees, even if it was not “sans engagement“ but that would probably require sending some documentation. For a regular contract, phoning 10-15 days before should be enough.

  • Thank you. This helps. I will explore these options that you suggest. – dearN Mar 30 '15 at 12:44
  • I am a little confused. "je reviendrai plus tard" doesn't suggest (by literal translation via google translate at least) that "I would be vacating". – dearN Mar 30 '15 at 14:04
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    @drN “Je reviendrai plus tard” does mean “I will come back later” but given the context and the sentence under that heading, it seems that it means “I will come back to the website to complete the formalities”. At least that's how I interpreted it (but like I said I have never used that functionality). – Gala Mar 30 '15 at 14:25
  • Aah ok! It is after all the page to "resilier mon contrat". Ok. – dearN Mar 30 '15 at 14:26
  • Can't you just go into an Orange branch and ask them about cancelling the contract? If you're lucky someone just might speak English there – SztupY Mar 30 '15 at 18:38
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General advice:

  • Don't wait until the last day/week to inform them, you risk having to pay some extra days if there is a minimum notification period before cancellation;
  • It is usually possible to specify the effective cancellation date in advance (e.g. up to 60 days in advance, according to Orange).

That said, sometimes there are specific conditions to be respected, but in my experience you can almost always send an advance letter specifying when termination should take effect, to avoid being disconnected too early.

Now, it is really annoying that Orange mentions the phone call on their website. It is not clear whether that is obligatory (maybe the law would forbid it, but I am not sure), but they do not mention cancellation by letter. You can still find dozens of templates on the Internet, but I cannot confirm whether they are effective.

Note that most ISPs in France now require you to pay termination fees even for offers sans engagement.

It used to be the case that if you moved to some place outside the area serviced by the provider (e.g. another country), then cancellation fees could be waived, but this is becoming harder and harder, with several documents required to justify it. Check your contract to see if there is that possibility.

Note: it is often recommended to send cancellation letters via signed registered mail (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception), which provides you proof of sending, in case you are accused of not having sent it, or having sent it later than you did.

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There is an English language phone line for Orange. I cancelled my land line with them in two minutes! Very helpful and fluent in English. 09 69 36 39 00

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