James’s plight over getting Cathrine’s presents delivered in time begs me to ask about other’s experiences of delivery of packages en France.
I get the impression that the odds of anything turning up within a reasonable delivery window in France are either extremely unlikely or so expensive as to be not worth the bother. In turn I query how this has a knock-on effect on the internet / mail-order market and in turn the prices in shops.
When we first took possession of the house in France I had arranged for the internet to be connected. On arrival I found a letter telling me to go to a florist specialising in flower arrangements for funerals in a town some 25kms away in order to collect my router box. I thought this a bit odd but having checked the dictionary my translation was indeed correct. On my 3rd attempt to collect the box the florist was actually open at the times stated on the door and I managed to collect my “neufbox”. After this experience I pretty much gave up on bothering to do anything by mail / internet – although I would accept that this is in part motivated by the fact that since it is a holiday home I leave less to chance since if a package doesn’t arrive on time it may be some weeks before I am back to collect it (by which time it may have been returned).
By contrast the experience in the UK is entirely different. We recently bought an electrical item from Amazon. When it arrived we realised it was defective. We went online and filled in the ‘returned items’ form online. This was at 8pm on a Sunday evening. By 11am the next day a courier turned up at my office to collect the item (we stipulated my office for ease). When we arrived home at 7pm on the Monday the replacement had been delivered and left with our neighbours.
There are similar excellent delivery options: one can buy a large item (e.g. a sofa or a bookcase) on ebay. One then posts a delivery requirement with a couple of firms (Shipley) and various delivery companies bid to offer you the lowest price to deliver the item. What they are doing is filling up an empty van coming back from (e.g.) London to Norfolk – they may as well pick up your bookshelf and deliver it for an extra £30 if it is not too far out of the way. If they pick up numerous items then they are in clover.
Essentially if one buys something online in the UK you pretty much expect it to be delivered within 2 days, if not delivered within 5 you’d be on the ‘phone complaining. Such is the ease with which one can get stuff delivered I virtually do no shopping in real shops, but only virtually shop online (virtually no shopping in shops – geddit ?). I think the opposite pertains in France.
I was recently bowled over in my local Briconautes when I saw an identical air conditioning unit to the one I have at home in England on sale for 630E. It was on sale in B & Q for £200 when I bought it (although I had bought it on ebay and done the courier thing for more like £130 in total). I was left wondering why anyone would pay these sorts of prices. Surely the thing could be obtained vastly more cheaply over the internet ? If it can be sold in B & Q for £200 (imported from Taiwan) surely somebody can sell it in France for much less than 600 odd Euros ? I see the same thing time and time again in shops around France – often electrical items on sale for much more than their true worth.
So my question is this: is my mistrust in the delivery system in France mis-placed ? If not, is it the cause of the mail / internet order market being lower in France and in turn (part of) the cause of the prices in shops being artificially high ?