Email: Why do they bother having an address?


Why do French companies even bother with email, or “send us a message” functions on their website when they don’t bother to respond?

OK, I should know better, this has been discussed often enough.

But I’m a bit peeved at the moment.

Towards the end of last year I got a letter from SAUR inviting me to make an appointment so they could check my connection to the village public drains.

Fair enough.

But I had no chance to be in France on the offered dates and with Covid rampant in both countries travel was looking very dodgy anyway (in fact I had two trips over cancelled in Jan & Feb).

So, when I arrived in April I wasn’t overly surprised to find a further letter (this time from the local SIAEP) - though this one with the prospect of a 300€ fine if I don’t comply. I should stress I don’t mind complying, but only have a small number of dates when I will be around (and I’m not making a special trip).

So, I replied by email stressing my willingness to cooperate, explained the fact that I don’t really speak French well enough to do phone calls etc etc.

Haven’t heard a dicky bird.

I also messaged SAUR via the “my account” section on their web site.

Haven’t heard a dicky bird.

I’ve tried again, no response. Not even a “we have recieved your message” (last week I got a pop-up promising a response within 72 hours from SAUR, at least).

I’ll send copies by post this time as well.

I know I’ll end up phoning, how well that will work we will see

But how the <more deleted expletives> do they cope with people who cannot use the phone at all?


And breathe…


Bizarre, isn’t it?
I’ve sent questions to companies using a message form on their website or a direct email and heard nothing for several weeks when a reply arrives by post.

1 Like

Maybe contact their CEO? Worked for me!


It’s a thought - if only to give some feedback on the customer service.

However this does need to be sorted at local level, although the main SAUR website is given on the SIAEP website as a contact there is also a “local” version but that doesn’t distinguish itself particularly from the main SAUR site.

It’s bizarre. I sent multiple emails to the English speaking section of EDF and DID get the standard ‘we will reply in 48 hours’ message, but not a dickie bird. One phonecall and all was well, but not email.

Sent Saur 12 emails no response. Now they want me to call, how very last century. Old meters are likely to give more water than they should, they had their cjance and blew it.

1 Like

Hush, aspects where France is barely in the 20th Century let alone the 21st are to be celebrated on here! Semaphore flags and carrier pigeons are just the french way… :shushing_face::joy:

1 Like

France works by telephone. Awkward, I know, if your French is not great - but c’est la vie…


And bizarrely by fax :slightly_smiling_face:

1 Like

Well, that’s a very 20th century solution. We’ve noticed they want to speak to someone, although use of email seems to be more acceptable if you want to give people money.

Not knowing too many young people in France I’ve no idea, but in almost all western countries the under 40s (Millennials and Gen Z) would rather chew their own ears off than speak to someone on the phone, it’s a massive no-no in almost all situations (dependent obviously on individual people and circumstances etc etc), my niece actually blocks anyone who dares to call her, and, horror of horrors, leave a voicemail for her and you’re dead to her! I wonder if it’s the same here or if as you say because France works via speaking to people on the phone it’s not such a thing here?

1 Like

My kids certainly do talk to their friends by phone - they message a lot too, but I think see talking and messaging as different things for different purposes, rather than substitutes.

1 Like

Yes, I should have qualified that the only people they may actually talk to is each other! FaceTime/ Zoom is excluded from the ‘no calls’ ban too of course!

Yes, I know unfortunately - but if they offer an email address it would not be unreasonable to expect a reply if a message is sent, ditto an enquiry form on a website (yes, by the way, I have checked that a reply hasn’t gone into my spam filtering system).

As I said I can see that it is inevitable.

One of my problems is that I’m pretty much tied up at work all day and most days am travelling between 8am and 9am which I might otherwise be able to use to phone so it is actually difficult to even find time to phone and email is massively more efficient because I can deal with it in the evenings.

Mostly I like France’s slightly quirky, 20th century approach to life. But this is definitely a situation where I get a bit frustrated.

1 Like

I completely understand your frustration Billy - experienced similar many times myself.

I don’t see it as a ‘stuck in the past’ issue though (indeed my kids see my love of email as old-fashioned). It’s a cultural difference you have to adjust to, like many others - it has pluses as well as minuses.

I’ve discussed it with my neighbour here - who is an IT professional working internationally - many times. He thinks ‘minitel’ was a factor - loved by many, who therefore found it hard to accept the anglo-internet - but he sees the most important thing simply as the French love of talking.


Discussions like this always remind me of the day our family doctor got my PSA test results back. He phoned me and asked me to come in - I said I’ll just get my diary, and he said “No - I mean now.” He explained the implications, then phoned a urologist at the local hospital, who he knew personally, and who I went to see later that same day. Efficient, or what?

1 Like

My French is slowly getting better but I’m much happier using a written medium - spoken comprehension is just tough for me at the moment. To be fair I’m not brilliant at written French - Deepl, Google Translate and the Reverso grammar checker are used for a lot of polishing of my raw efforts.

I’m sure if I were in France more of the time it would improve faster but I just don’t have time to practice much when in the UK.

Oh I use Deepl etc too - great for getting the spelling, accents etc right - as long as you know enough to go through afterwards to make sure it’s OK.
Downloading the French language and keyboard for my phone was a revelation too - written French is so logical - predictive text works so much better than it does in English.

Why is that, Kirsty?

I have worked in a progressive company where one came to that conclusion, that calling somebody was the last choice on a progressive list of options. I am just surprised it’s apparently a “thing” for all under-40’s? Why are they saying this is the case?

I’m not suggesting that I rate these particular sources, but from a quick Google a lot of the news articles I found are quite old now, and I thought these blogs were quite well written, the first since it’s specifically talking about what the OP is; customer service phone calls, and the second because it’s a good overview

1 Like