This is not an ad, but credit where credit is due.

On Monday, I had one of those days where nothing goes right. Tax bill, court summons and to cap it all when I got in, both my TV and internet were down. It was too late to go swimming so hunkered down for a boring evening.

I called SFR (my tv and internet provider) from my mobile. I was very quickly put through to an engineer who led me through a few steps that did not rectify the problem. The engineer informed me that it was a fault on the France Telecom line so I thought: here we go, batten down the hatches for 5 months of SFR throwing the baby to France Telecom and France Telecom throwing it back to SFR with me acting as communications agent between them. During the one and only conversation I had with SFR, they instantly alerted France Telecom to the line problem and told me they could do nothing that evening but would keep me updated. Again I thought: here we go.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I received a text mid-morning from SFR telling me that the problem had been reported and that an intervention had been opened. I went onto my client space on SFR website and was able to follow all the stages. When I got home on Tuesday evening all had been repaired and I had a voicemail waiting for me from a real person to say that the problem should have now been rectified, however if I still had any issues to call them straight back.

SFR brilliant. Reported problem Monday by Tuesday they had contacted FT and solved the problem. I was informed every step of the way.

Since I no longer rent a line from FT I'm wondering whether SFR have bigger clout when they contact FT, because I know if I had contacted them, it would have taken weeks.

So there we were without electricity from 1340 to 1900 and no possible human contact with EDF because a) the local mast must have gone down and mobiles suddenly did not work and b) when we drove down the road to the next hamlet who were not off although on the same trunk to use neighbour's phone, all we got was a recording saying there was a panne being dealt with...

We eventually got a human bean (as in Mr...) in Bergerac who had no idea about any panne and something like three and a half hours after panne begun said a repair crew would go to have a look. Ironically, in the middle of the area that went down there is a hydro station on the Dordogne that also has the depot of repair crews attached, but they had electricity and probably no idea that all around them nobody else did! Since there were only automated messages... Some service!

I called Orange after Apple claimed the problem with my iPhone was not something they could deal with. The sim had died. The nice Person on the phone from Orange told me to take it to an Orange shop and they would test, and if necessary change it for me.

I took it in and took my place in the queue. I explained the problem and the person there asked me to wait until a service technician, who would be able to test it, became available.

Half an hour later, an Orange Oompah Loompah called me forward and announced that they don’t offer that service there as they didn’t have the right equipment. So I hit the roof.

After much arguing, she finally unravelled a paperclip, pushed the sim out, tested and replaced it.

What a palaver though. The point being that very often two people tell you one thing and the one who actually has to do it will tell you something different.

I sincerely hope the service culture is changing for the better.

I think the after sales service culture has improved greatly over the last 8 years. When we first arrived Michelle needed to purchase a mobile phone which she did from a recognised retailer. When she got it home she realised that it didn't work at all.

We took it back to the same shop, explained this to the salesgirl, and were astounded to be met with the classic 'shrug'

More recently she acquired an all singing/dancing smartphone... several of the promised facilities did not function, and whilst there was an amount of 'well that's the problem of this or that service supplier' everyone in the frame bent over backwards to try and reach a resolve. ( still ongoing mind you, but at least people are on the case )

Certainly sounds like it. Unlike Orange where a dull, uninterested voice usually claims they are on the job and it is only by about the eighth call and losing your rag with yet another dull, uninterested voice that anything is done. That might take some time too. Yours sounds superb, prior to that what has it been like though? Is this a one off that will lull you into a false sense of security or are things really improving. I would prefer to be optimistic and hope for the latter.