Customer Support Call Centres in France

.. plus ca change …

Customer Support call centres are probably the same the world over.  Unfortunately.

In France there’s a nice little wrinkle – the call isn’t free.  The time that you’re on hold waiting for a live person is free but you pay .15 per minute after that.  I still haven’t actually figured out if that’s fifteen cents a minutes or one and a half cents a minute.  If it’s fifteen than I can call a friend in Canada for less.  It’d be more fun.

My mobile phone is one of those all singing all dancing phones.  In theory I can receive e-mail and access the internet with it.  The e-mail thing seemed to work as long as I used an address but I could never remember the address and I wanted to check mail, not send mail so it wasn’t a hugely useful feature.

Trying to get my mobile phone replaced – a long story –

In September, with the help of a technician at Orange I managed to get the internet thing working and was able, for a brief blissful period, to access my e-mail.

In October it stopped working.  The technician had given me his name and I called and he determined, after about an hour on the phone, that there was something wrong with my phone and that it had to be replaced and he would arrange that.  He called me back and said there were no phones in stock but that as soon as there were someone would call me and arrange to deliver the phone.  Cool.  Deliver the phone.

I explained that I was leaving for Canada in November and said that if they couldn’t deliver before that it would have to be in late January.  The day after I left someone left a message on my land line saying that they were calling to arrange to deliver the phone. 

So ….

On Monday I called to arrange the delivery.  And punched in my mobile number.  And listened to the recorded woman tell me that the call was free while I was on hold but that once I was in the system it was however much it was.  And then hit 9 to speak to an attendant.  And listened to the recorded woman tell me that I could access my account on line and do whatever it was myself and it would be free. And that my wait would be between 1 and 3 minutes.  And then got an attendant. 

And had to tell him my mobile number.  Why is that?  I already keyed it in. Do they get you to key in your number so you fell as if you’re doing something?  As if maybe you have some control over the process?

So I told my story about the phone needing to be replaced because I couldn’t access the internet with it and it wasn’t in stock in October and I went to Canada and now I wanted to arrange for the phone to be replaced.  I forgot one vital piece of information.  That I was back in France.  It took a few minutes to clear that up.  Then we were golden.  He said "You need to speak to someone in service apres vente.  I’ll connect you"  "Merci", I said.

"But, before I connect you.." he said "could I ask you a question?"

Now I’ve been in sales one way or another for more than 20 years.  I know a sales question when I hear one.  I also had a pretty good idea that he wasn’t going to connect me to anyone until after he did his sales pitch.  So I let him ask me the question.

"Do you use your mobile phone to access the internet?"

The issue of my ability to speak French now raises it’s ugly head.  In English I could have done a 3 minute routine as an answer to that.  In French all I could think to say was "Pourquoi?"

"Because we have a special offer right now and you can get blah blah blah internet access for only blah blah…"

I said that I thought it was better to wait and get the phone replaced and make sure that it worked before I considered any special offers for internet access.  He agreed that it was probably the best approach and said he would connect me to service apres vente and asked me to hold.

I did.

He came back on the line and said that he was sorry but service apres vente wasn’t available today and would I please call back tomorrow and thank you very much for calling Orange and enjoy the rest of your day goodbye.

I just realized that you may be wondering why I didn’t call the nice man who gave me his name in October.  I lost the piece of paper that I wrote the name on.  I’m sure I’ll find it.  Someday.

Tuesday morning – call Orange.  Did all the stuff, listened to the recorded woman, waited for an attendant.  From this point on assume that every time I call Orange I do all the stuff, listen to all the stuff, wait for the attendant.

I had decided to take a direct approach so I said that I would like to speak to service apres vente.  "Why" he asked.  "To arrange to get my phone replaced" I said.  "Why?" he said.

Hmmm.  "It’s a very long story and my French isn’t very good. Would it be possible for you to look at my file and see if it’s there?"  I thought that was a fairly brilliant approach.  Not bad really.  He did ask me what model phone it was and whether it was an Orange phone but he did agree that I needed to talk with service apres vente and said that he would connect me.

"But, before I connect you.." he said "could I ask you a question?"

You see where this is going, right?  The offer this time was for SMS.  I restated my position and he agreed, said he would connect me and put me on hold.

Came back on the line to say that  he was sorry but service apres vente wasn’t available today until 15.00 and would I
please call back then and thank you very much for calling Orange
and enjoy the rest of your day goodbye.

What’re ya gonna do?  I waited til 16.00, just to give them a margin to clear the backlog of calls, and started over. And when the attendant came on the line I wasn’t fast enough saying hello and he hung up.

So I called again.  And went through the entire process including the sales pitch to be told that he was sorry but service apres vente had a large volume of calls and the wait would be too long and would I
please call back later and thank you very much for calling Orange
and enjoy the rest of your day goodbye.

I decided to wait until Wednesday morning.

Called Orange.  Did all the stuff.

Got a brilliant woman who looked at my file without me asking her to and said that the order had been canceled because they couldn’t reach me in November but that she would reactivate it and connect me to service apres vente.  But first ….. so I had the sales pitch.  It was the internet access one again.

She came back on the line and said that service apres vente wasns’t available, could I call later.  I decided it was time to start whining.  "But this is the third day I’ve tried to reach them" I said.

It worked!  She said that she would leave a message with service apres vente and have someone call me to arrange an appointment  to for the great phone exchange.

And someone did.  But I was on the phone .  So I missed the call.  Her message said to call back and speak to service apres vente.

So I called Orange. It didn’t take as long to get to the sales pitch because I immediately said that someone left a message saying that I was to talk with service apres vente.  But, of course, I couldn’t because they had a large volume of calls and ….

Three more calls to Orange.  Then, success.  I got through to service apres vente.  Yes!!  And made an appointment for Friday morning.

I now have a replacement mobile phone.  Will I be able to connect to the internet?  No idea.  I’m looking forward to many conversations with Orange attendants, trying to find the nice man who speaks English and can help me set up the service.

More than anything else, in France I’ve learned patience.

About Sam

Sam started Aude France as a companion site to her real estate site Aude France Property so that she could have a place to write about life in the Aude. Now that she's in Canada she writes about things that can affect owners and buyers in the Aude - or anything that strikes her fancy. On Pinterest you can find her by searching for Sam Mooney or clicking this link
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2 Responses to Customer Support Call Centres in France

  1. e. says:

    You must know 'Greensleeves' back to front by now. Your telephone experiences ring a bell (!) here in Ireland.

    I especially liked the signs they put up in our local bank when they laid off half the counter staff and doubled the length of the queues. The signs read: 'In order to serve you better, we have introduced some changes…'!

    Keep up the good work, I check in on your blog most days. Dream of moving to the Languedoc some day, so I keep an eye on the properties too. Finances don't allow for the move at the moment, but I live in hope and keep doing the lottery!

  2. Sam says:

    Banks in Canada are the same. They put in machines, make you do everything yourself, and make you pay to do it! Stunning profits though. LOL.

    Hang on to the dream. You never know.


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