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May 2011
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Frankly Franglaise

“Quinze jours”

May 30, 2011

Not many people like moving house.  I think it’s recognised to be one of the most stressful things you can do.
We have just relocated from one French village to another and the short distance has not made it any less stressful or exhausting.

The Move happened slightly sooner than we anticipated. As tenants we were obliged to give 3 months notice to our former (French) landlords. What’s so strange about the legalities of renting in France is that the NEXT landlord has no intention of waiting 3 months for you to move in! So like all timescales here, it does not seem to have any real logic and is frequently unreliable.  Also within the terms of our standard rental agreement we won’t receive our deposit back for up to another 2 months, whilst having to pay out the deposit on the new house.  As a general rule – if you have a shoestring budget – re-renting in France is not a straightforward exercise.

Fortunately, we were fairly prepared to be renting two properties for ‘the crossover’ period this summer, but as fortune had it, we found a new tenant for the original house and found ourselves frantically packing in order to make a swifter exit. Taking into account bank holidays, visitors and an enormous amount of work, we have done pretty well and have now started the slightly daunting tasks of curtain hanging, furniture moving and box unpacking.

Everything has gone well so far. Everything except for the blessed Orange.
I find myself transported back through time to my first encounter with an organisation whose standard response to almost any kind of problem is “Quinze jours”.

The last time I had a phone issue – the standard “15 jours” response turned into over ’30 jours’.    Daily phone calls talking to different phone answerers that showed no real interest in trying to be helpful.

I am an incredibly patient person but no matter what date I called, it was still another “quinze jours”.

In that instance, there was a genuine problem with the cabling which they refused to acknowledge and “Quinze jours” was never ever going to make the problem go away. Fortunately, after involving (and nagging) our local Pharmacist (who we discovered worked part time for Orange), the connection was fixed – but I regret to say that my opinion of Orange customer service has been tarnished forever !

In this most recent case, we requested, quite logically, to “transfer” our phone lines and internet connection to the new house.

Having vivid memories of the earlier Orange experience we were determined to be cautious and we gave them PLENTY of notice about the move so that things could be put in place.  [We have considered moving supplier, but have not heard enough positive stories to encourage us to move to one of their competitors].

On the occasion of this move, the slightly vague phone operator probably didn’t care less whether she hit the ‘transfer’ or ‘TERMINATE’ button. They confidently now tell us that they have no record of the conversation on which they acted to cut off our phone account at the former address. And as a result we now have no phone and no internet.


These faceless people at the end of the Customer Service line are not at all sorry.   We make the daily calls to 3900, we listen to “the tune”, we talk to a recorded message, we speak to a real person, we get told “15 jours” for a new connection.  Sometimes they say we don’t have an account, sometimes they say there is a fault, sometimes they say they have cancelled the order.  There is no knowing what the real position actually is from their side.  And I dare not cancel the direct debit, just in case tomorrow is the day someone actually gets us re-connected ….

In this day and age we rely heavily on communication tools, Broadband is an essential part of my world and not having the phone is extremely difficult. And stressful – most of my clients are UK-based and are in total disbelief that it takes over 2 weeks to move a phone line.   Definitely not business as usual !

But all is not lost, there are a few locations in this area that offer free wifi so I’ll be able to carry on working.  Friends, family and co-working spaces are at the rescue, enabling me to add this post or catch up with my Inbox on a fairly regular basis.

And I’ll be ringing Orange again today just to hear which version of the story they’ll tell me today.

No doubt I’ll also hear those infamous words – “quinze jours”.


by Annette. Find out more about Annette here.