Sunday, June 22, 2008

So Why Are You Calling Me?

When we left Leran last September we put our telephone and internet on "suspension". For a nominal fee we could retain our phone number (which took forever to obtain) and with the promise of a mere phone call from Moab to reinstate, I took the bait. Two weeks before departure, I started calling the France Telecom English-Speaking Hotline. My two favorite recordings---in fact, the only recordings I repeatedly heard---were: "Thank you for calling....all our lines are busy....thank you for calling back later"; or, "Your call is being handled in the order in which it was received". I could only listen to the latter recitation a couple million times before I had to disengage and move the next bloke one up in the queue.

Our departure date came and went and I still hadn't connected with my friends at France Telecom. I was resigned to making an in-person trip to Pamiers, wait in the in-person queue there and conduct business the old-fashioned way. We did this last Tuesday on the way back from dropping off our rental car in Carcassonne. It was as if I was blessed since I waltzed in and out with nary a hitch. I presented my facture (bill) to the young gentleman and explained that "J'ai la telephone et le internet sur suspension et je voudrais faire meme chose comme avant". What I hoped I was saying, roughly, was "I have a telephone and internet on suspension and would like the same as before. You must understand that this was a memorable sentence for me, and the last thing I was remotely concerned about was whether I had proper tense or proper gender stuff. I just wanted to see the light go on in the guy's eyes.

He indicated he understood, clicked on the computer, punched a few keys to pull up the account and Voila! Pas de problem, madame! Aujourd'hui ou demain, he informed me. Not bad I thought. But when Thursday rolled around and no internet I began to worry, and started calling the FT English-speakers again. No luck. No big surprise. No internet on Friday, so I decided to stay on the line until the proverbial cows came home with the FT folks. A good 20 minutes went by before a distinctive click in the phone line occurred.

I introduced myself with my name, phone number and stating that I had been to Pamiers to get re-connected but still no internet. The gentleman interrupted "So, why are you calling me today?" After waiting 20 minutes I was a little taken back with his customer service approach, but plodded on. I explained that I 'expected' internet service on Thursday, so was checking to see if something was wrong. (I think 'expect' is a word not to be used in dealing with French services.) He then changed tactics, and asked me if I wanted to receive my bills by the email of my choice. I'll make him happy and say yes, I thought. I made a grave error in attempting to clarify my email address, however, when he suddenly interjected "I do this every day for a living". Desole.....

Before cutting me off, he humored me by checking the account and discovered that the person in Pamiers had connected our internet to a dial-up instead of a broadband account and that is why it wasn't working. "That person didn't know what he was doing, he shouldn't be working there. I have now done it correctly. It will take four days, it always takes four days for it to work...never the same day. Good bye".

Four days would have been Monday or Tuesday, but Saturday morning we had internet. I think that person in Pamiers actually did get it right. And, he was very polite. Once again, we are reminded that if we spoke better French our lives would be much less complicated. The simplest things become obscure when your language skills are fuzzy.


Anonymous said...

What you actually said to the young man in Pamiers was, "Please connect my hot dog."

Anonymous said...

Good to have you guys back in France- it is great reading. Nance- your pics of the misty morning are great!