Thursday, October 6, 2011

EDF.. Extemely Dimwitted Fools!

People often say to me 'Oh, you must miss living in France'. Well I don't.  The cheap wine and summer sunshine was never quite enough to make up for hair-wrenching frustration that is dealing with just about any French company or institution.  Their job application forms must surely have a box to tick whereby you have to confirm that you will never, at any time, show any ability towards independent thought and joined up thinking.

Take EDF for example. I'm trying to change the electricity account at our house in France back into my own name. There appears to be no number to call from outside France so I've tried to do it online.

I typed in my name and address. It wouldn't accept my postcode because French postcodes only have numbers but I've got round that in the past by putting in a line of zeros then adding the postcode to one of the fields that allows numbers and letters. No problem.

I put in the address of the property. No problem there. I even managed to find the Point de Livraison which is absolutely vital to identifying your property correctly (apparently). I put in the name of our former tenants. Still going swimingly. The only teeny weeny problem came when it asked for a meter reading.  The outgoing tenants, not content with not paying rent for the past 5 months and trashing the house, refuse to let me have the meter readings, so I left if blank.

EDF emailed me.  (I've translated it into English for ease)

"Madame, thank you for registering your new account online. However, before we can create it, we need to have a meter reading'

I e-mailed them back

"Monsieur/Madame, thank you for your e-mail. You will see from my application that I live in England so unfortunately I can't supply a meter reading. Please could you arrange to one of your meter readers to visit the property and take a reading. Cordialement"

They e-mailed again

"Madame, thank you for your e-mail. However. before we can set up your account we need to have a meter reading. Please supply one"

Hmmm. I e-mailed back

"Monsieur/Madame.  I'm afraid that I live in England and as the house is in France I can't supply a meter reading. Please arrange to have the meter read. Cordialement"

Another reply landed in my inbox

"Madame, thank you for your e-mail. Please supply the exact address of your future home as well as the name of the former tenants.  Please note that we cannot set up your account till you have supplied us with a  meter reading"

By now I was feeling slightly less cordial

"Monsieur/Madame, thank you for your e-mail. I  have already supplied the address of my house in France. It was a mandatory field in the online registration form. Likewise, I have already supplied the name of my former tenants, that was also a mandatory field on the online registration form.  Unfortunately I am still in the UK and my house is still in France so it is not feasible for me to supply you with a meter reading. Cordialement"

Bing, you have a new message......

"Madame,  thank you for supplying the requested information. However, please note that we cannot set up your account until you have supplied us with a meter reading" (their bold).  If you would like to discuss this with us please telephone on the number on the reverse of your bill.

So I replied again...

"Monsieur/Madame, thank you for your e-mail.  There is absolutely no point in requesting a meter reading, even in bold letters. It will not alter the fact that I am in England and my house (and it's electricity meter) are in France. In between us is a small sea (La Manche) and a large landmass (La France), therefore I cannot supply one. Please would you arrange for the meter to be read.  I am unable to call you on the number on the reverse of my bill as I do not have a bill. I do not have a bill as I am not yet a customer. That is what I'm trying to sort out now"

And guess what they said...

"Madame, we are unable to open an account without a meter reading. Please supply us with an up to date meter reading otherwise we will have to arrange for an operative to  visit the property and read the meter"

Hoo - Bloody - Ray!


The Vegetable Assassin said...

I'm sure they do it just to entertain themselves you know. "Let's see if we can get this English lady to fly into an uncontrollable rage and kick something!" If it's any consolation, it's like that most places when it comes to things like that. I'm pretty sure when you apply for jobs at these companies they test you on your ability to infuriate and the higher your score, the more chance of employment. :)

the fly in the web said...

Oh, goodness, tell me about it!
I had the tenants from the kids breakfast on an eighteenth century marquetry table, etc...moaning that cows 'pooed' in the field across the road...but at least I had the bills in my name which, despite the efforts to screw money from these filth at least meant I did not have EDF to deal with...

Wylye Girl said...

Veggie, I am quite sure that every large company/organisation in France uses that as the only criteria for employment. A colleague at work has a house in France and she needed to pay one of the local property taxes. The tresorie was late sending out the bills so it arrived after she left to go to her house in France. She went into the office to pay her bill with ID, french cheque book, account reference, etc but as she didn't have the tear off slip from the actual form they wouldn't let her pay it. They will though, charge her a 10% penalty for late payment as the due date will have passed by the time she gets back to the UK.

Fly, when the legal case against our tenants is over I will post the whole sorry story, it's a thrilling tale of lies, deceit, Ponzi schemes and intellectual property theft. It's would make a great novel but no-one would believe it!

Steve said...

Millions of years of evolution to fall at the last hurdle. Damned bureaucracy!

Curry Queen said...

WG that would be hilarious as a Monty Python sketch. Sadly not so funny when it's real life. Sorry to hear about bad tenants. Are you planning to re-let, sell or just nuke the whole place? :-)

Elaine said...

How frustrating for you - and I'm sure Vegetable Assissin is right, that they just do it for their own amusement. Is your head still hurting from where you were banging it on the nearest brick wall?

Anonymous said...

Sacre bleu! I love travelling in France but I would hate to own property or do business there. Hotel transactions are challenging enough. Brilliant piece by you capturing the essence of your frustration. Have you ever managed to sort it out?

Elaine said...

I was pretty sure I'd left a comment here - but maybe I just thought about it!

I think Veg Assassin might be right - it's a requirement of getting a job that you irritate customers.

I know it must have been very frustrating for you - but you write about it so amusingly.

Lou said...

You are WAY more patient than me! Lordy!! BTW feeling any urge to do NaNoWriMo or NaNGeFaMo? ('GeFa' as in GetFat)... I feel no such urge but will miss your banter this November.

Perpetua said...

Poor Wylye Girl, you have my sympathy. Been there, done, that (except for the tenants from hell) and still bear the scars. Hope it gets sorted soon.

Wylye Girl said...

Steve, EDF employees are slightly further down the evolutionary chain than the rest of us methinks!

CQ, my favourite would be to nuke the place but sadly The Husband still thinks we might one day return to France. Not bloody likely!

mrwriteon, couldn't agree more. Great place to travel, nightmare place to deal with bureaucracy

Wylye Girl said...

Elaine (twice) I've been a bit remiss in moderating comments but I have a good reason which will soon be revealed

Lou, yes, for reasons I don't even understand I am planning to do NaNoWriMo. You really kept me going last year. How will I survive? :-(

Perpetua, thank you. It has now, fortunately

This Mid 30s Life said...


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