After Sales Service and Hotlines

After recently purchasing a high-tech piece of equipment recently, we struck a problem. There is a HUGE Instruction Manual, the size of a New York phone book, in many different languages. All except English or German!
The problem we were having was not covered in the book or the FAQ but at the foot of each page they list a Hotline N° to call. I would really like to know -- why is France the only country who charges 34c a minute to call for information or advice? The Dutch didn't: the Greeks, Portuguese, Italians, Slovenians --- not one asks for a premium rate to speak to them.

I have also found here that companies such as Travel Agents,Insurance Companies etcetera, charge a prime rate as well. Surely if they wanting to sell a service or a product, you should be able to phone them at a normal rate? I'm not terribly surprised that the economy is sluggish.
This rip-off also applies to some other centres one needs to call from time to time. Orange/Wanadoo is a prime example. THEIR Network goes on the blink, and the customer has to pay over the odds to contact them to see what's happening.

It's a bit like the PaddyAir argument, not everyone wants to check in a suitcase, those that do have to pay. Not everyone will have problems like you did and need the telephone support, you did and whilst they can't get away with charging you for the time they spent on the phone with you, they will get some money from France Telecom

@Steve - wow!!!! £45. But then, are the goods and services THAT cheap? I don't think so. Definitely not cheap enough to justify ripping you off so you can get your service or equipment functioning.

I think it is a way of subsidising lower prices for the goods/service you buy. I spent 45€ on phone calls to Free to get my ADSL connection working originally, equivalent to 1.5 months subscription at the time.

It isn't the lack of English manuals that got my engine churning --- I haven't got a problem reading them in French but what annoyed me is that the item was not functioning as it was supposed to after assembly, in spite of following all the instructions to a T. So to find out if it was defective or not, you have to call a premium number. Are companies hoping that charging for the phone calls will cover the wages for the employees? Or that if they charge enough, nobody will annoy them with questions?

I too have downloaded many manuals in English or German but sometimes they are not available. A Metronics product * a Sat Decoder for instance, does not have anything available in English even after I scoured all the normal sites where these things are offered. Of course there are premium numbers in England and elsewhere, but for companies to promote offers for travel or insurance, giving only premium numbers to contact them?? I think not! If I want to buy something, I expect the seller to put themselves out to make their services as attractive as possible, and this does not include having to pay at least 34c a minute for their sales personnel to tell me what a wonderful organisation they are.

Well the best one was my daughter's school who set up a premium rate phone line so that parents could call to get the daily news from the school trip to the UK. And eerm no I didn't call!

As Donna says, if you need the manual in English or German you should be able to find it on the web site of the manufacturer. I've done this many times when I wanted an English-language manual because the French translation is so awful as to be incomprehensible.

Many companies in the UK have premium rate numbers as well, it is not just France. There are sites such as set up to help you find a normal number which can also be useful if calling from outside the UK as the premium rate numbers sometimes don't work. Not sure if there is an equivalent site in France

I have been lucky enough a lot of times to find manuals in English online and be able to download them. I avoid the calls at all costs because the people on the other end of the phone seem to not be that helpful either, especially when I speak to them in less than perfect French.