Tuesday, February 19, 2013

W is for Useless Utility

Dealing with our utility companies this week has been a laugh a minute. On Saturday a second technician from Orange arrived to respond to Brent’s service call for our defunct phone line. He had come from Toulouse (90 minutes away) with out being told that another technician had been there two days earlier and had already diagnosed the problem. He was not happy about that but if Orange refuses to put all the affected people for a single fault onto a single fault report then there’s little we can do about it. So we’re still three weeks from the start of a solution. I communicated the details of this to Orange’s national support Twitter account @Orange_conseil but their enthusiasm to resolve the issue  dried up after I passed on all the idiocy that has gone on. 

edf-bleucielMeanwhile I’m working on closing down all my other utility contracts. I called the local English-speaking number for EDF bleu ciel to sort this out. That took seven attempts as the first six calls jsut got me a message that they were too busy and to call back later.

When I reached a phone operator, I was told I should read the meter myself and email the numbers in. I asked what email I should use as EDF never responds to emails – in fact almost no French company or government office ever seems to respond to email. The operator told me that this was a matter that I needed to take responsibility for, to which I said it was more like a national problem of poor communications etiquette. I loved using the word etiquette here.

She told me there was a simple solution for the email address but it took about ten minutes for me to communicate this solution, as the address is not written down on any of the correspondence sent to me. The “simple” email address was so convoluted – it got longer with each telling - I asked her to spell it out for me:  t for the, h for ‘enri , … at which point I had to stifle a giggle as it seemed that she was re-enacting a famous old comedy sketch by Mike Nichols and Elaine May in which Nichols is trying to make a long distance call to a friend by the name of Kaplan. May is a telephone operator who repeats the name, using the spelling K as in Knife, A as in Aardvark, P as in Pneumonia,…

Mike Nichols and Elaine May: telephone operator

There was a long pause during which my EDF operator went to review her alphabetic pronunciation. Then, after many echoes, hotels, sierras and a couple of tangos, I finally confirmed that the simple address is

So now you know too.

Next calls: home insurance, health insurance, water and my friends at Orange for the phone and internet. Pray for me.

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