Down & Out in Paris

Pain de Sucre Aftermath

Just a note that my internet and cable everything has been down for the past week. And because that’s not enough, my some messages from certain servers are being blocked and/or returned for whatever reason.

But rest assured, there’s no one here taking care of the problem.

After calling several times at 8€, or $11 a pop, and getting disconnected in lieu of speaking to someone, I’ve given up. So I’m now adopting a wait-and-see attitude since I just can’t unshake from my brain the belief says that if I pay for something, I should (feasibly) get something in return. Which ain’t happening.

(Although the recording says if I sign up for their new telephone service, I’ll no longer have to pay to wait on hold. But honestly, I don’t think pitching their services to customers while they’re irate is wise marketing.)

So if you’ve sent me a message and haven’t gotten a response, or it’s been returned—c’est comme ça…which basically means ‘too bad’.

C’est ma vie…

(And if you see a guy in the Places des Vosges bundled up in a winter coat, typing with blue, frozen fingers, that would be me. Please buy me a chocolat chaud….it’s cold out here!)

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  • October 24, 2007 5:33am

    I wish I could say come south and leave the drear behind, but it is dreary and chilly here, too. But the phone does seem to deliver internet at 50,000. No more.

  • October 24, 2007 6:33am

    Judith: Thanks for the offer. But I guess I shouldn’t complain since there are far worse places to surf the ‘net than the Place des Vosges. (Although why they put those ugly ‘WiFi Here’ metal signs in the most beautiful square in the world is beyond me.)

    I also can’t complain since the guardian in my building used up her 3 hrs of mobile phone time calling the cable company too (she has cable phone so she’s without a fixed line now.) They told her they need to get more complaints from people in the building before they’ll come.

    Anyhow…I did discover if I hang off my roof, I can swipe a signal from a neighbor. If I fall off, at least the health care here in France is excellent!

  • October 24, 2007 7:07am

    My poor David. Ah les joies de parler au telephone pour regler des problemes internet. I have so many stories told by friends about that. Hope you stay warm all the same!

  • October 24, 2007 8:32am


    I’d kill for a real french chocolat chaud…
    Anyway, I hope you get back into your home and its services soon!

  • October 24, 2007 9:05am

    I hope someone brings you a chocolat chaud quickly! Be careful on that roof.

  • October 24, 2007 9:38am

    Poor you! It’s always a nightmare to call for any services in France. My husband (who is not French like me) has no clue to handle it so I am always the one calling and arguing and writing no so nice letters …
    Cheers -hope you got plenty of chocolats chauds-

  • Terrie
    October 24, 2007 12:37pm

    I feel your pain, David. It’s so frustrating to not have anyone approach things like this with even a semblance of concern. C’etait ma vie à Paris aussi. My last trip was sans Internet…several phone calls (and one visit from the repairman for the building) later with no resolve, I just gave up. The repairman suggested that maybe it was the whole neighborhood. Wouldn’t someone from the cable company have noticed this before a few days had gone by? Hope it’s all resolved soon.

  • flavia
    October 24, 2007 12:54pm

    Mercury is retrogading until november 1st !!!! :)

  • sam
    October 24, 2007 2:18pm

    David always forgets, so I have to remind him. Calling phone services in the US can be just every bit as infuriating.

    sorry you have to go through it though…

    and sorry is so cold, she says luxuriating a 24C heatwave over here in CA

    bisous xxx

  • good enough cook
    October 24, 2007 3:09pm

    I’m sorry to hear about your troubles! But I am completely flummoxed by the accompanying photo.

    Do you no longer have communication because things are being rewired, resulting in chunks of plaster which you have artfully arranged in a culinary-style photo op?

    Did frustration inspire you take a hammer and chisel to that sugar loaf thing (the one you posted about a few weeks back)?

    Are you chipping away at your walls as you wait on hold?

    Are you giving your loyal readers hints about new directions you’ll be pursuing in the Next Project involving hunks of limestone?

    Are you discovering new forms of divinity or nougat that have to be quarried into edible shapes?

    Or did I totally miss something?

    Please enlighten us.

  • October 24, 2007 3:24pm

    Quel dommage!! Sorry about your internet woes. I feel like my arm’s been cut off when our wireless fails, so I can sympathize. I hope you’ve been plying yourself with enough chocolat chaud to keep warm!

  • charlotte s
    October 24, 2007 4:01pm

    hey! hope you get your internet and cable back quickly! i just made your chewy oatmeal cookies and they were absolutely delicious! thanks!!

  • October 24, 2007 6:06pm

    I understand that got the same trouble with my internet ^^, Btw I work place des vosges, if you want a hot chocolate have you tried the little chocolatier in the street at the back of the place? they do wonderful things such as earth globe in chocolate etc, very impressive though I haven’t tasted any of it yet… If they have hot chocolates they must be awesome!

  • October 24, 2007 8:29pm

    “After calling several times at 8€, or $11 a pop, and getting disconnected in lieu of speaking to someone”

    This problem sounds very familiar to me. The same happened to me several times with my old internet provider here in France. I’ve asked around to find out what the best thing to do is in such a case and it’s actually to write a letter.
    Describe your problems in detail and also mention that you called several times to get this issue fixed and that you were disconnected etc. Make sure to send the letter with an “accusé de réception”.
    You’ll see, it will probably work wonders. You will not only get an answer but it’s possible that they offer you a free month or two of internet/phone. At least that’s what happened to me.

    Why does calling help so rarely? Actually it seems that when you call the costumer service of let’s say France Telecom, you get connected to a call center in a completely different country where they pay people to take complaints and to listen to costumers, but those employees have no real means to help you beside sending an email to the technical department of said company (which ends up in a looong queue).

    I’m not sure which internet provider you are using at the moment but you might want to look into other options. It probably means 10 days without internet but the difference can be incredible in terms of speed, reliability and service. For me it was the best solution and I’m more than satisfied with the new provider.

  • October 25, 2007 1:47am

    If I were in Paris right now and I happened to see you, I would definitely buy you un chocolat chaud… in exchange for the chance to go to the market or bake with you :)

  • October 25, 2007 10:15am

    Sam: Yes, it can be equally (or more) infuriating in the US, but at least you’re not paying to wait on hold for 20 minutes, then get cut off. Twice! I don’t understand the concept of paying for service to fix the service that you’re already paying for! xo

    Yakumo: I did check ’em out a while ago and it’s really (really) complicated to change here. Plus from what friends tell me, the others aren’t much better. The good thing about France Telecom (if there is one) is that you can go into their office and speak to someone. My net provider has two offices in Paris and last time I went I waited 30 minutes is a very long line that didn’t move one iota.

    g.e.c: Yes, that was my pain de sucre. Symbolic of my frustrations…good call!

  • October 25, 2007 10:34am

    OMG David, I’m having the same problems at my place in Paris! Of course they make you think you’re the only one – and it *must* have been something you did or didn’t do – it’s driving me insane! Thank you again dearest for restoring my fragile hold on sanity.

  • Claire
    October 25, 2007 11:42am

    David, I have just moved to France and am experiencing for the first time the JOY of dealing with France Télecom. I have never encountered such lot of unhelpful and rude people as the staff in my local store. After having waited for 40 minutes to speak to someone, when you tell them that your Livebox has stopped working, they tell you to go away and call their helpline number, because they can or will do nothing to help you.

    You call the helpline, from your portable of course, because your fixé is broken. It costs 10€ of credit for 16 seconds, during which the advisor tells you to go to the shop from which you bought the service!

    Is this normal in France or do they hate me here?

    Suffice to say, all my sympathies and good luck with overcome the technical difficulties…

  • October 25, 2007 11:53am

    Claire: C’est normale!

    I switched my mobile plan last week at France Telecom and even though I brought every piece of paper I could think of with me, since I’m used to them asking for everything, I was stumped when she wanted a copy of my lease on my apartment. She was very nice, but was just following some proscribed procedure.

    There’s 2 strategies I’ll share for dealing with them: Yelling, or flirting.
    Try both!

    In this instance, the flirting worked.

    But if it’s any consolation to you, it drives my French friends crazy too. Welcome to France!

    (And people think I make this stuff up…)

  • mb
    October 25, 2007 5:48pm

    Oh, man, I feel sorry for you! I know EXACTLY what you are experiencing. Actually I find France Telecom very correct (although you may have to wait forever) as long as it only has to do with the téléphone fixe. The real problems happen when it concerns the internet/cable/mobile services. All my problems began when I subscribed to the telephone illimité through the internet.

    Once I canceled that and returned to my regular high-speed connection without phone-line and back to my regular phone connection all was resolved. France Telecom even refunded my two months of phone subscription that I was unable to use. Good luck, lol!

  • Jennifer
    November 7, 2007 5:24am

    Coucou ! I came to your site for baking advice (my colleagues at the little French school where I work demand American cookies!) but your France Telecom woes ring so true. I had to call yesterday (from my mobile of course) because although my internet was still working, my phone wasn’t. The mysteries of a Livebox! I’d already gone through all the recommended steps to me depanner, with no luck, and really dreaded calling. The guy wasn’t pleased that I lack technological vocab in French. I am traumatized by the very expensive phone call, but at least I managed to get my fixe working again. Better yet, I now know how to repair it myself should it happen again.