Customer (Dis)Service


(Wendy Wise) #1

Just been having a rant over on Facebook about what is laughingly known as customer service here in France and was wondering if we could start some sort of campaigh, awards for the worst and best customer service.


(Zoe Buckley) #2

Jane, you say "but, of course, the french, by and large, really don't care about that either."

i've live pretty much everywhere, and I can tell you, you can never say what people in general "care about". saying all french are this, and all indians are that", even with your "by and large" margin for error, does not hold water.

People are different, every one of us, it is not based on nationality, food choices, sexuality, skin colour, religion.

you simply cannot generalise.

Also, if you find the french so shruggish, and ambivalent, why live here...why join a site of expats?? because you thought it was a "place to bitch about the french"? no, it is not.

i know wonderful french sales, and aftersales people. i know shoddy customer service reps from all over the world.


(Jo Blick) #3

LD lines, Transmanche Ferries : Dieppe harbour,FRENCH SIDE= clean, comfortable, helpful staff, waiting room open at midnight for travellers catching 5.30am ferry.

Newhaven harbour, ENGLISH SIDE = closed until 2 hour before ferry sails at 9.30 am therefore no access to warm,safe waiting room, toilets, drinking water or benches to sit on, Dirty, run down facilities, rude sarcastic staff unwilling to offer a complaints procedure. and I quote, after replying to my pointing out the above "We have to sleep you know, you don't expect your local supermarket to open 24 hours, do you?"


(Jane Williamson) #4

Well said Wendy!
You can add Swiss Life (providers of Mutuelles) to the list of companies that provide poor service. Soficas have stopped using them because they have had so many difficulties with them and they have become so expensive. They took no notice of our request for a quote for a less expensive policy and then tried to enforce the 20 day rule from the date of their renewal notice.
We cancelled our policy with them on the advice of Soficas and they still took our premium.
I totally agree with your observation that the bigger the company the poorer the service.
Thank goodness we had our broker working for us who has more clout than we do as an individual.
We were in business as consultants in the UK before coming to France and we were only as good as our last contract.
When you have people who are virtually bombproof in their jobs, unless you are very lucky, the incentive to view the person you are dealing with as a human being is by far diminished.
Good luck with the removal of the sofa and getting the money back!


(Wendy Wise) #5

I should explain at this point what provoked my original rant. A friend bought and paid for a 2 seater leather sofa from the Conforama website. When it was delivered it was a 3 seater plastic sofa. Since then she has been given several appointments to remove the offending item, necessitating the usual stay at home, spend all day looking out for van type expereince, no show. Because her French is not good enough to deal with a phone call to customer services, I volunteered to help. I have phoned at least five times and been told that they will e mail the delivery company on each occasion. They also gave me the no. of the delivery company who insist that they have had no communication from Conforama giving them the necessary “Bon de Reprise” which would trigger them to collect sofa. One lady from Confo promised to phone the delivery company…still nothing. Have asked to speak to a supervisor, they apparently do not speak to customers.

Meanwhile, Confo have over 400 Euros of my friend’s money and she has a huge and hideous sofa taking up half her sitting room. As advised by Union Française des Consommateurs, we have sent a recorded delivery letter to Confo which produced yet another promise to e mail the delivery company…delivery company deny receiving any such e mail…We are now awaiting a meeting with someone from UFC to take up the case.

In general, the bigger the company, the poorer the customer service, although I would single out La Redoute as having excellent customer service. I do find that many institutions are totally unaware of what constitutes good customer service including banks, lawyers and insurance companies who fail to reply to letters, return phone calls or be present at their offices when a meeting has been arranged. Is this acceptable Jeanette, are we being unreasonable? Would I behave like that to my customers, certainly not.


(Jane Williamson) #6

You have misinterpreted what I said. Your comments on life in the UK I find totally out of date. There has been a potent force at work in the UK to dumb down almost all aspects of life. Having a brain and using it is frowned upon.
Having good manners works both ways!


(Sandy Whitehead) #7

We have a fantastic plumber, Msr De Antoni, who saves our bacon on a fairly regular basis when the boiler decides to play silly wotsits (always when we have clients!!) He turns up on Sunday mornings, Saturday evenings etc. He is also an electrician so a double whammy of super hero-ness!! sometimes the only payment he will accept is a glass ,or 3 , of Famous Grouse whisky.

Msr Lozano comes and mends tractors strimmers, mowers etc. Usually on the same day, and always with humour and good grace. While I was still having cancer treatment, he arrived at very short notice ( he also does small electrical jobs) sorted out lights in the gite , which took about an hour and then refused any payment. his comment was 'with all of the problems you are having , if I can give an hour of my time to help , I am very happy to do it)

On the other hand , when La poste could not trace a recorded delivery letter containing an important contract that I had sent to USA,a rather arrogant young man asked me if I thought that a French postman went to personally deliver my letter!! And that I should be asking the USA postal service. I reminded him that I had actually paid LA POSTE for this service, not the USA and where was both my letter and the service? This discussion went on for some time and eventually asked him if he had special training for this job , he proudly told me ‘Bien sur Madame’ whereupon I asked him if he had excelled at the part of the training which involved being impolite to clients…
I’d got my dander up by then. He had previously refused to pass me to a manager as they were to busy to speak to clients!! However , he decided anough was enough, I spoke to a manager who apologised profusely , letter never materialised, but I did get a cheque for 45euros 2 days later in compensation. And a feeling of not having lost completely.
So I think ‘c’est la vie’… ‘swings and roundabouts’ … But most importantly, mutual respect and common sense needs to be applied from both sides whatever the size of the problem and the business.

Here endeth the rant!


(Jane Williamson) #8

I get wonderful service from my hairdresser, Hair Style, Cluny and the opticians, General d’Optique in Creches sur Saone. Gamm Vert are very helpful as well.


(Jane Williamson) #9

Whilst doing the renovations on our buildings, we have had examples of both good and bad artisans. Fortunately, our architect provides a bridge and all problems go through him. The last examnple was of the worst guy, roof, plumbing and painting, saying we owed him 15,000 euros! When we asked the bank,the cheque had been cashed and, guess what, he eventually found it. The architect has had to make deductions for bad workmanship and trying to charge for things twice, so we think this was his way of getting back at him. The carpenter has done some brilliant work, but we are still waiting for him to finish.


(Norman Montefusco) #10

Ok! I have a candidate for ‘Best Service From a Plumber’. We bought our house from an elderly frecnh couple, Mr and Mrs Soule, who, as we found out, did not know how the central heating worked as they rarely used it. Finally Mr Soule gave up (after much prompting from his wife) and called the plumber who had installed it and arranged to meet him at the house two days later. He duly arrived on time and walked me around explaining everything. At the end I tried to pay him but he would not accept anything so I though Mr Soule had paid him.

Two weeks later at 8pm I tried to start the heating with no luck. The Soules had left his details so I called him expecting the usual in-sucking of breath that would always accompany a call to a british plumber with some comment like ‘Won’t be able to get there for two weeks!!’. But no, he said he would pop over and arrived ten minutes later (did I mention this was Sunday evening?). He took the pump out and cleaned it, inspected the boiler and the wiring then started it up. Excellent! I asked him how much that would be and his reply was that the job was too small and he could not accept payment then jumped in his van and was off! Another couple of weeks went by and the same thing happened and, again, he was there within fifteen minutes. This time he took the boiler apart, re-wired it completely and fired it up and again he insisted it was too small to be paid for so I legged it upstairs and came down with a bottle of very nice champagne for him and he was made up. I then dragged him upstairs to view the ancient washroom and asked for a quote to move the radiator as I wanted to be able to give him a job I could pay him for. The quote was great so I booked him in. He and his oppo arrived to do the job and made a fabulous job of it including installing a new expansion tank I hadn’t asked for but he explained I needed as the original was punctured ( a fact he discovered whilst doing the job). This time when he fired up the system the pressure was much higher so, the radiators leaked. The two of them were off like jack rabbits running around the house replacing every valve (there are a few of them) which took them an extra three hours. Over coffee in the kitchen I tentatively asked what the final bill would be, bearing in mind that he had installed the tank, replaced the valves and they had both been there three hours longer than intended. He just pushed over the original quote and said ‘The quote is the quote’.

My personal experience has been since that this attitude towards customer service is not unusual and I have not heard of anyone in our extended community being ‘ripped off’ or treated badly by a French artisan.


(Jane Williamson) #11

If something goes wrong you are “entitled” to redress. It has nothing to do with social class
or position. All you want is your problem sorting out. If the company involved cannot bother to train their staff to respect their customers, upon whom their jobs depend by the way, then you should complain. In France waiting on table is not looked upon as degrading, so why should looking after other customers not be the same. If you have not received the gallic shrug when asking a question, then you are one very lucky person I think it should boil down to do as you would be done by, but, of course, the french, by and large, really don’t care about that either. Try looking at Sarah Hague’s blog “Concept Mouton” on March 31st.


(Jane Williamson) #12

If something goes wrong you are “entitled” to redress. It has nothing to do with social class
or position. All you want is your problem sorting out. If the company involved cannot bother to train their staff to respect their customers, upon whom their jobs depend by the way, then you should complain. In France waiting on table is not looked upon as degrading, so why should looking after other customers not be the same. If you have not received the gallic shrug when asking a question, then you are one very lucky person I think it should boil down to do as you would be done by, but, of course, the french, by and large, really don’t care about that either. Try looking at Sarah Hague’s blog “Concept Mouton” on March 31st.


(Jane Williamson) #13

I was just thinking can anybody translate, “your promises are like pie-crust, made to be broken”?


(Linda Pailthorpe) #14

Have no complaints about French customer services. The only dreadful after sales service we have received here was from an English guy!!!