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THE RIVIERA REPORTER MAGAZINE: DISCUSSION FORUM FOR THE ENGLISH SPEAKING EXPAT COMMUNITY ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA



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A tale of French customer non-service


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14 replies to this topic

#1
MikeP

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Some while ago, I bought some light globes,  those new ones that take 5 minutes to get to full brightness, and which can't be dimmed.  The ones that the useless bunch of pricks who sit in Brussels and pass motions and hot air all day have decided 'we' need to save the environment.

'They' have forgotten that that disposing of these things is harmful to the environment, that they cost more than conventional tungsten globes, and that despite bullshit claims of 'lifetime' guarantee, or in the case of this product,  8000 hours, they often don't last longer than conventional globes - but they cost several times as much.

So, a few weeks ago I replaced the light in my study with one of these globes, switched in on, it ran for a few hours, switched it off when I went to bed, switched it on the next day and 'phutt' ...... darkness. So I got 3 hours use out of it.

When you buy these small items, you tend not to keep receipts,  specially since I'd bought that maybe months before to keep as a spare.  So I didn't know where I'd bought it.  A dishonest person would have gone out and bought another one, kept the box and receipt, and gone back the next day with the defective one.  Problem solved.

I'm not dishonest and I enjoy beating the system in an honest way.

So I looked up the manufacturer's name, found they have a subsidiary in France, sent them an email through their website, got an automated response saying they would reply within 3 working days, and of course, that was it.  Sent another email two weeks later, same response.  And a third.

Found out that the company's head office is in Canada, emailed them with copies of correspondence, and within 24 hours got a reply saying they would take it up with their European office in Germany (note : not France!).

24 hours later I had a reply from the good folk in Deutschland apologising, saying that it was unacceptable that I'd had no reply, and that the product was unsatisfactory, and that they would, natuerlich, send a replacement.

This morning, a courier arrives 'chez moi' with a box containing 2 globes of the same type.

That is the level of customer service I am entitled to expect.

Contrast that with France where complaints are either ignored in the hope that the complainant will go away (not me!) or the process to complain is made as difficult as possible. Why are the French so totally and utterly useless at customer service?

Auchan (sp?) have been dicking my other half around since November over a 2 year old washing machine which failed and is under 'guarantee'.  She plays the game their way and of course is not getting a result.  Starting at the bottom does not work.  Starting at the top works. Every time.

I could write a lot more about what I've achieved by taking complaints to the top and not giving up.




#2
ants

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View PostMikeP, on 27 February 2013 - 11:48, said:

Some while ago, I bought some light globes,  those new ones that take 5 minutes to get to full brightness, and which can't be dimmed.  The ones that the useless bunch of pricks who sit in Brussels and pass motions and hot air all day have decided 'we' need to save the environment.

'They' have forgotten that that disposing of these things is harmful to the environment, that they cost more than conventional tungsten globes, and that despite bullshit claims of 'lifetime' guarantee, or in the case of this product,  8000 hours, they often don't last longer than conventional globes - but they cost several times as much.
This crazy light bulb idea wasn't an idea of the EU. Not by a long way.  In fact it was imposed on Europe by a much wider international treaty.

Dozens of countries outside Europe have adopted this global treaty which includes switching to these so-called low energy bulbs. Even energy-independent countries with masses of their own electricity like Australia and Canada have signed up. The Canadians have already started to suffer from the adverse effect of mercury bulbs.
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canada-unprepared-for-flood-of-mercury-light-bulbs-report/article7565454/

You sure are right about how dumb these bulbs are environmentally. The fact is that "in the real world"  using these bulbs does not save energy in most cases. I'd be for them if they did.

In our home I think we use MORE energy, not less, because of these bulbs.

Firstly, because they take a few minutes to get to their maximum brightness. Not at all practical for a quick look at some small text on packaging or a recipe book. So, rather than turn on a bulb when we need light, we tend to leave most of the bulbs on all the time whereas before we would always turn lights off when not needed. This new habit is saving energy? I doubt it, but it does save our eyesight to do leave them on.

Secondly these new bulbs are dimmer than the traditional bulbs, even at full brightness. So we now have about 50% more lamps in the house than we had before. Madness.

It doesn't affect anyone in our household but I'm told that these mercury bulbs have a flicker which can bring on headaches to some susceptible people and even trigger epileptic fits in others. I don't know this for certain but it wouldn't surprise me.

If you don't mind a rather harsh light (which you can always soften with a shade or globe), we have found the 220v 70W/53W  Energy Class "C" bulbs sold by Carrefour and Carrefour Market better than the mercury and about 1/2 the price. They look like a standard light bulb but they have a halogen inside the bulb. They are not frosted which explains the harshness. It says they last for 2000 hours  (2 years at 3 hours per day). We have yet to have one burn out so we don't know if that is true.

There is also a 100W/70W version.
http://www.ooshop.com/courses-en-ligne/ContentNavigation.aspx?NOEUD_IDFO=93069

Made in Poland according to the packaging.
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#3
MikeP

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Thanks for the tip about the alternative, ants, will look into that.

Whilst we are in agreement about the negative aspects of these new globes,  you have drawn the topic away from my original point, which was how abysmal, or non-existent, customer service is in France, and how badly companies treat their customers.

How do they get away with it?  Is it because the French don't complain, or rather, that they don't complain to the right people?

#4
ants

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View PostMikeP, on 01 March 2013 - 07:50, said:

Thanks for the tip about the alternative, ants, will look into that.

Whilst we are in agreement about the negative aspects of these new globes,  you have drawn the topic away from my original point, which was how abysmal, or non-existent, customer service is in France, and how badly companies treat their customers.

How do they get away with it?  Is it because the French don't complain, or rather, that they don't complain to the right people?
I can't explain it. The French don't seem to mind terrible service.

Since my local Intermarché became a Carrefour Market the service is much better and I shop there whenever I can. The best service I've found in food places is my local Picard. Really good. I also found SFR at Cannes Torrades really good too.

Darty sucks so I try to avoid them but there aren't masses of alternative choices for electronics and appliances.

Complaining and whinging does nothing. The best way to change things is to share any good finds with other consumers and encourage everyone to go there.
"An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.”
Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher

#5
MikeP

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The French do mind appalling customer service, but they bitch and moan to each other about it and don't do anything about it.

Quote

Complaining and whinging does nothing

It does work if you complain to those responsible,  starting from the top, and setting out your complaints, why you feel you have been wronged, and stating what you want done about it.

It invariably works for me.

I have just ended a battle with Belkin over a a surge protector that failed to do its job.  They offered a series of excuses, one after the other, not to pay out in terms of their warranty. A strongly worded email to a director in the US, bypassing the numpty clerks in 'customer service', and quantifying my losses, resulted in them paying me out the precise amount I asked for.

As a result,  I am €500 better off, at the cost of a couple of emails.

Similar result when I had a problem with a forex dealer recently.

#6
Sean

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I tend to agree with MikeP.  It is pretty dire,  I'm not a complainer, I tend to walk away, whereas my wife is pretty fiery and she'll get stuck in, and usually gets a result.   She embarrasses me at times, but I know she's right.

We had lousy service and indifferent food in a restaurant a few weeks ago.  When she complained to the waiter he shrugged his shoulders and walked off. She followed him into the kitchen and hauled out the owner/chef/manager and gave him a public dressing down, in a mixture of her bad French and her (Irish) English in front of the whole restaurant. I felt like crawling under the table but the result was that we were offered our meal and a future one, and the other diners were all given coffee and liqueurs.

She's right, and so is MikeP, it does pay to complain, but you have to do it in the correct manner to the right person.

#7
MikeP

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Back to the topic of light globes,  does anyone know why the make 'Osram' is not very popular in a certain Central European country?

#8
petra

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I had to cheat because I was curious. I'm so sorry.  :grovel:

Osram means "to poop" in Polish according to Google.

#9
MikeP

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More or less, it's apparently the future tense, but same difference!

#10
Sean

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Quote

Auchan (sp?) have been dicking my other half around since November over a 2 year old washing machine which failed and is under 'guarantee'.  She plays the game their way and of course is not getting a result.  Starting at the bottom does not work.  Starting at the top works. Every time.

Good luck with Auchan because we had a problem with a camera we bought there and they were not just unhelpful but rude and patronising.  Complaining doesn't help, it all seems to be there to obstruct you.

I hope you will let us know the result you get by going to the top.

(Perhaps OSRAM should be their company slogan ..... OSRAM on the customers!)

#11
Methuselah

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I have lived in a number of countries and nowhere have I found worse customer service than in France.  I make as many of my purchases as possible outside France or from non-French online sites.

#12
rosielea

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I have had countless dire experiences of French non-customer service - France Telecom told me to test my phone at a neighbour's house to see if it would work and then told me my broadband wouldn't work as I was too far from the exchange (seeing as it had worked fine for 5 years I did ask when they had moved the exchange as I hadn't moved my house anywhere); I once waited 40 minutes in Darty trying to buy an iron but none of the 8 members of staff I asked for help could assist as it wasn't their job - went to Boulanger in the end where I have generally found them to be very helpful; had to set up camp in the EDF offices in Grasse before they would agree to repay me the 450 euros they had mistakenly taken from my bank account, etc etc .......

BUT CREDIT WHERE IT'S DUE:

I must give a big word of appreciation to the team of youngsters manning the various service desks at Nice Terminal 1 on Friday night.  We arrived at 21.30 to find that the battery in our car in the P2 parking had died.  As we couldn't face sorting out the "depannage" we decided to get a taxi home and sort things out in the morning.  As we had already paid we needed to get a new ticket for the car park.  As we were nearest to the Business Centre we asked in there first - the charming young lady sent us to the Information desk opposite arrivals.  They sent us to the Parking booth just outside where another very helpful young lady said don't worry we have a battery charger and can fix it straight away.  We went back to the car, lifted the bonnet and within 2 minutes a chap arrived got the car started and then accompanied us out to make sure we were OK.  This all took no more than 25 minutes after the plane landed.  Very happy customers!

#13
MikeP

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Some good tips in here, although unlikely to work in France as French companies don't seem to give a toss about customer service, and when they're all as bad as protected as each other that's not surprising.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/10021466/Join-the-fightback-against-customer-service-problems.html

Quote

He advised customers to address the letter directly to the chief executive, “in a pink envelope marked private and confidential so the secretary won’t open it”. “It is possible to get letters through to senior people,” he said. “Make sure you go above customer services. Keep your letter short and to the point, and keep your demand open ended so they can exceed your expectations.”


#14
ants

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The pink envelope trick is a good one. I know someone who takes it a step further.

He dabs a drop of his wife's perfume on the envelope. No secretary would ever open a scented letter addressed to her boss.

This would probably work also with women CEOs. They are becoming more common.
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#15
PouBelle

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View Postants, on 29 April 2013 - 13:54, said:

This would probably work also with women CEOs. They are becoming more common.

Do you mean women CEOs would dab aftershave so's their secretaries don't open it? I know women sometimes dab perfume, but men dabbing aftershave???