InvestigationFounded in 1951, the first consumer association in France has forged, through epic procedures, a reputation as a counter-power. After the telephone operators, it is now scrapping against the giants of the Web. Despite the topicality of her fights, the dean struggles to dust off her image.
“Don’t expect a rock star tour”, had warned the press officer. There is a van, but no groupie on the horizon. Only a few retirees.
Gilles Castaing, 68, with his boxes full of copies of the magazine What to choose. Louis Berthier, 84 years old, including fifty spent styling all the families of Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire), in his living room in the city center. “I also made a lot of wigs”, he specifies. His, all white, comes off a little at the level of the forehead, ” because of the heat “. The little man tries to screw two metal bars together to install the barnum which will serve as a support for the posters.
Yvette Ravet, 78, also responded. She is worried about the front doors of the truck not opening. Since mid-September, this van, rented for the 70th anniversary of the UFC-Que Choisir, has been touring the country to promote “The first consumer association in France”. “Seventy years anyway, it’s not nothing”, comments Yvette, engaged for eighteen years. But the event does not even move the volunteers. That morning, only six of them, out of the fifty or so in the Chalon-sur-Saône branch, made the trip.
These members who give of their time to settle consumer disputes and represent them in 140 cities are the ground force of the UFC-Que Choisir. “We are not the local cycling club, you still have to be a little militant”, launches Régine Humbert, 68, engaged for twenty years. Former municipal councilor, she joined the UFC de Quimper (Finistère) in 2002.
“If we want to make laws, we can’t do without them. »Guillaume Garot, deputy for Mayenne
Yvette, a school teacher, gave her last lesson in June 1998, and went to the association on the Tuesday of the start of the school year. Since then, every Tuesday evening, she manages stories of “Mechanics who have not completed repairs, telecom operators who overcharge their customers, or tenants who cannot recover their deposit”. She enjoys helping people write their mail and, most importantly, hearing them say “Thank you for listening to us”.
The ex-teacher would like “Leave room for young people, but there aren’t many”. That morning, few passers-by stop in front of the tables crowded with petitions and publications of the association. The local newspaper has announced the arrival of the van, the food entertainment and the photo booth for the little ones, but the few onlookers leaving the Monoprix are watching this band of retirees with curious eyes. Gilles Castaing asks two young women if they know the UFC, the girlfriends say no. “Can you imagine, it’s still amazing that people don’t know about UFC ! », Gilles is surprised.
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