Is honesty dead?

As a garagiste I make my living servicing & repairing cars. I am no better or worse than most other garagistes & I know when some jobs are beyond my skill level. It is handy to know who else is about.
The motor trade certainly has its fair share of rogues, ne’er-do-wells, rip-off merchants & downright cheats & it is a constant embarrassment to me when I hear of poor service.
I often see adverts on various web sites & come across business cards in bars for car maintainence, garage services & such, some of which sport siret numbers, others just offer such services provided by british ex-pats. Experience has shown, however, that not all these people can actually operate as advertised!
Recently a friend who lives quite a way from me had a problem with their car & contacted me for advice. I am a long way away so a call out was not an option so I suggested taking it to a local garage. My friend has a neighbour who uses an englishman to service her car & passed on the details. The man had a very impressive business card listing all the services he offered along with a siret number. He duly arrived, fiddled with the car which then started, handed my friend a bill & left. 10 minutes later the fault was back.
To be fair cars can do this to the best of us & it is something we & the customer must sometimes accept. What is important is that the customer should have some kind of guarantee with the work & official support if the garagiste fails to do the right thing. This particular individual’s siret number allowed him to do digging & groundwork!
When I registered as a garagiste I was required to supply all sorts of proof that I was entitled to carry out such work. I also had to be approved by the Chambre des Metiers. Many businesses require proof of ability before being given a siret number - it is not a case of saying that you want to be a brain surgeon & being given the go-ahead!
On Facebook there are a few buying & selling groups & I often look at cars for sale. The other day a woman was advertising her car & asking for offers. As usual with Facebook some of the comments were less than polite & one comment stated that he had a garage so knew what the car was worth. I checked the name of the individual on & the only entry was for a defunct landscape business - no mention of a garage or any other business. I did post a reply that “you are registered as a landscape gardener though”. The reply was not polite. I then suggested that he posted his new siret number. The next reply was just plain daft. It is a standard requirement to include your siret number when promoting your business & I am happy for anyone to check mine. No need to get defensive. In fact I am proud of my reputation & trade.
There are so many “Calais tradesmen” that asking for proof that someone is entitled to do what they say they can is essential. The customer must be sure in their own mind that they are getting what they are paying for.
I came across another car business on Facebook. They seem to be involved in dismantling & selling used car parts for which a special licence is required. To be fair they were not directly advertising, just answering requests for parts. The registered business is for white goods repair.
If someone does not like the fact that you are asking them to confirm their business, there may be a good reason.
If in doubt check them out -


Good advice.

Local chap registered as Hérbergement Touristique … also works as Roofer/Builder etc etc…

Brits use him because he is English and they speak the same language.

The fact that his work is not insured… well, it seems the Brits don’t care… he’s cheaper than the French workers and they can chat… those 2 things are what matter to them… :zipper_mouth_face:


I should add that I am hoping I have scared this chap away from our village… :sunglasses:

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I’m past angry about this now, it just makes me sad. It even used to be the advice regularly dished out on another forum - “register as a handyman or a cleaner because it’s easy to get registered, then you can do whatever you want”. A sector of Brits simply don’t seem to have any moral compass or moral rigour. Right or wrong doesn’t come into it, the only criteria are what’s easiest/most profitable/best for me me me.

Contrast this to the French business forums where members will agonise and discuss for ages to make sure their registration is absolutely correct and all the t’s are crossed, not because they’re scared of getting caught but because they respect the rules and it’s important to them to know they have understood them and followed them correctly.

I’m not under the illusion that every French person is a paragon of virtue but I’ve never found a subculture over here where there is so little respect for the rules that you blatanty boast about breaking them and advise other people to do. And the shame of it is that there’s a lot of trust built into the system, there are very few checks because the state trusts people to do the right thing and in the main the French seem to respond to being put on their honour, but Brits crow because for people with no sense of honour it makes abuse so easy.

I’ve noticed the same with second hand car adverts, often there’s a list of things “à prévoir” that will need attention soon, including things that a prospective buyer probably wouldn’t have noticed on a quick inspection. How many Brits would conscientiously list all known faults?

This mindset just leaves me shaking my head in despair, because how do you reverse it?. How many generations has it been like this?


If you all believe the french are straight with their perfect moral compass’s take a look into the swimming pool world. Oh but they can hide behind a siret and a decenial but advice and costs are ludicrous.

I must add that there are Brits who have come here to work… gone through the system of registration, siren etc etc. They pay their dues and they work hard.

They are to be commended.


Some of us Stella.
But it is only fair…is it not to give and take…not sure what I am taking
but…I think you know what I mean.

No I don’t, I said

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They may do what they feel they need to do to survive adequately.
That is how I see it. The French…that is.
Note that I said “survive adequately” being comfortable at home, in the garden
and on journeys in a car for daily living Ie…a visit to the doc or shopping.

We have always tried to do the right thing and at times have been close to ‘grassing up’ fellow Brits who brag about working for cash or driving UK reg’d vehicles but at the end of the day what’s the point, as long as you live your life following the rules then who cares what others do.

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Interesting point. Yes I often wonder why it winds me up, but I think that there must be something built in that wants to see fair play and a fair society where everyone does the right thing. It’s hard not to be affected by the society you live in, and if you see injustice and abuse around you it’s hard not to react. Isn’t that what Brexit was supposed to be about?

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Well Tim, what happens if post March 2019 the perceived behaviour of the British immigrants in France is based on those people who have blatantly ignored or broken the law for years? I would rather be judged on my actions rather the combined actions of a large population with lower moral values. Hopefully that won’t happen but I hate it when other British people I see are so arrogant about how they are happy to ignore the law and justify it by bragging that they know they will get away with it. Living your life and allowing others to do as they please is not the answer.

I agree Sax.
And Anna it is hard when fair play is not on the turntable.
It takes great effort to keep body and soul together in France as
we know and without making our contribution why should we
be paying for our health cover etc whilst overs abuse the system.
I suppose we tolerate.
In my past in UK I suppose that if vitally needed I could have
found financial help … even though I was close to death the tax office were not interested and
But here you must stand on your own 2 feet.
What was Brexit all about?
Wanting " our UK back" to how it was portrayed in Call the Midwife but with the added
assets of smart cars, wardrobes full of clothes, trips abroad and holidays and nice homes.
Not sure but certainly greed was involved, resentment and racism.
Extraordinary racisism expressed by foreigners and those with foreign decent…including
the politicians who are screaming to enforce this Brexit disaster.

Everyone’s different Dom. It’s not my place to police fellow Brits (or any other non-conforming nationality). If we all get tarred with the same brush after next March I’ll do what I’ve always done when shit lands in my lap - just deal with it.

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Me too…I deal with every thing as best as I can.
But you get older…it gets harder.

I suppose partly it comes down to, why are laws there and why do people obey them. Some people would probably answer that they’re there because they’re there, and you obey them because if you don’t and you get caught, you get penalised. Another view is that they’re an attempt to guide people to behave in a way that’s best for society as a whole, and if you care about the society you live in you will obey them to “do your bit”, because it would be antisocial not to. So it’s stick and carrot. In fact France has a number of laws that have no penalty if you break them, there is only a carrot and no stick. But some people only see the stick, so they split their sides laughing at the notion of a law with no penalty. You only see the carrot if you look at the bigger picture and see yourself as part of society. Maybe there isn’t enough civic education on the curriculum in the UK or maybe it’s too superficial, maybe they should start teaching philosophy (yeah right) but I honestly think part of the problem is that kids in the UK grow up with no solid education about citizen responsibilities unless they get it at home.
So there’s my rant for the week :wink:

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and many of the parents do not have the time or inclination to do that.
They are chasing Mr and Mrs Jones.

A friend of ours who is a registered electrician here and is able to issue the certificate for electrical works has had to toughen up. The number of times people will go with the cheapest person to do some electrics, who of course aren’t registered, and then he gets a call to come round and issue a certificate, often from people where he quoted for the work and they gave it to someone else.

Gosh… that’s rotten… because he is becoming responsible for the installation… hope he charges them a high price for his Attestation.