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Why We Don’t Have a Phone

Beautiful windows in St Germain des Prés

There are two major carriers – Orange, and SFR, for cell phones.

We walked into an Orange store. After scoping it out for a while, we found a catalog that looked more like a magazine, full of plans and prices. The number of cellular plans available was overwhelming. We decided to take the book home to study. Before leaving, I asked the slightly snooty shop assistant if incoming calls are free. He replied with “Quoi? C’est le magasin d’Orange!” I didn’t think my French was that brutal…he really hurt my feelings there ;)

We then proceeded into an SFR store and got a booklet. We went home, figured out the plan we wanted from SFR, and walked back in – ah, mais vous avez besoin d’un compte français en France! Ah, that’s simple, we’ll walk into HSBC where we’re “Premier” customers and get a bank account!

Non, not the case.

First bank said, ah, to see someone sitting behind me, you need to leave this branch, call this number, and make a rendez-vous. But, but, that person right behind you…she can’t make her own appointments? Evidently not.

We called the number. Guess what? The person who makes the appointments is out for lunch. Please call back. *click*

Fine, we’ll walk into another bank that’ll want to serve us. Right…second bank held us custody between the two little gates to enter their branch and said (I kid you not), go elsewhere. Maybe that branch a couple of blocks away from here will help you. We will not be able to help you.

O-kay then.

Third branch let us in (yay!) and said, oh, the appointment book is here, but the person who maintains it is not. Therefore, please call the call centre. You have their phone number? Great. Call them and make a rendez-vous to come back. Yes, you need a passport and a lease or utility bill to open an account. Yes, if you don’t have a bill, you can use your lease – I’ve already told you that, this is the second time I’m saying it. *yawn*

I called the call centre again. The man tried to put me off – “can I call you back”?

“NO. I don’t have a phone because I don’t have a bank account. You cannot call me back. I’ll wait.”

A minute later, magically, I was speaking to someone in English, and made an appointment successfully with an English-speaking relationship manager in Paris for Monday.

We saw our new relationship manager today and successfully opened a bank account! However, weird bug in the ointment – the fees to have a bank account here are enormous. The whole point of our “Premier” relationship is to be fee-free, and here we are, €10.20 per month for fees. BAH.

So where’s the phone?

Oh yes, the cheques that we need to open our SFR phone account will be available for pick-up next Tuesday, so no phone until then. But we’re getting close!

Oh, the excitement.

Cheerful things – things that are cheaper in Paris: Oscillo 2 for €10! 17 crappy containers for €4!

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Jenn Stark Tuesday 6 September 2011, 18:40

    My brother had the exact same problems trying to get set up in Paris when we was on exchange….. oh french bureaucracy! x

  • Rishi Tuesday 6 September 2011, 22:40

    no wonder the french have a reputation… so much red tape and no one works!. good luck

  • Erin Monday 12 September 2011, 18:15

    lol – that is a very, very typical french story… looks like you’re having the full parisian experience :)

    • mango Tuesday 13 September 2011, 16:06

      Oh yes, if/when I get my residency permit that’ll be another page-long wild goose chase story!

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