Retiring to the Charente Maritime ...or not - Getting the phone connected

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Retiring to the Charente Maritime ...or not
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Fortunately we had an agreement with the new garage owners for water during this period, but, unfortunately when it came to paying the old meter costs we discovered that our new neighbours had not been as careful as we had in water usage, and had in fact fractured a water connection in their land. The result was a massive bill for water used, and, as the water board had not yet provided us with the new service they insisted we had to pay it in full. Our neighbours seemed quite happy with this arrangement and it took the intervention of a sympathetic mayoress to persuade them they should pay half.

The telephone was a similar story. As our house had telephone points fitted France Telecom allocated us a new landline number in February 2006, and we mistakenly thought this meant we could now have a connection. We were a bit surprised when our new telephone did not work, and, after discussing the problem with France Telecom they decided they would need to do a survey as our property was now classified as a ‘new house’. The cost of this survey was to be 664 Euros and we had to agree to pay before any installation would be done. Well, we had no choice as the cost of my French mobile with calls to the UK was not good news.

A date was made for the survey whilst we were still in England so a friend kindly waited for the France Telecom person to arrive. He did not come, so I called France Telecom from the UK and arrange another meeting. Nobody came to this one either.

We waited until our next visit to France and did manage to meet the France Telecom survey person. He arrived, looked at our house from the road and departed five minutes later. (so much for my 664 Euros !) All this took place well before our move to France so we really thought we would have a telephone connected for our arrival in December 2007. You’ve guessed it – no telephone, but, being on site it should now be easy. The France Telecom representative promised us the line would be connected within two weeks, one month at the most. I had had such problems with FT that I asked the mayoress if she would speak to the representative and confirm the connection time – she kindly did this and it was as stated. We were promised the line would be in before Christmas anyway.

The connection was eventually made at the end of April 2008, and we were given someone else’s number in error which resulted in another weeks delay. Our line was finally activated on May 2nd.

The electricity board were rather more efficient and actually connected the supply when they promised.

We can’t wait to sell our house here and return to the UK Oh! - just in case we were thinking everything was sorted, the wine season started and the new silos were being delivered. Last month the telephone line was cut three times. The contracted technician told us that they should have used 10 metre poles and he would fix it. I am still waiting in eager anticipation, hoping that the line gets raised before the next high load.

So what lessons have we learnt which may help others who may be considering retiring to France?

1. The so called French ‘LAID BACK’ attitude is another name for ‘UNRELIABILITY’

2. Be aware that registered French tradesmen have to pay a lot in insurance and taxes each month, even if they are not earning, so prices tend to be high. The standard of work however is usually good.

3. Before we moved to France we made the mistake of allowing a French builder who was doing some work for us to stay in our house with his family for three months over the winter, whilst his own house was being completed. The agreed cost was 600 Euros per month plus electricity. When it came to pay time he suddenly had no money, yet seemed to be spending a lot on his own house, so, cutting our losses we agreed that he would ‘work off’ the money by doing work for us. He did about three days and then disappeared, never to return. The lesson we learned from this episode was that when someone says to you they are going to do something, all it means is that their mouth is open!

4. When you think you have calculated how much you are going to spend on restoration - double it.

5. When you think you have calculated how long it’s going to take you – double it.

6. If you think the cost of living in France is cheaper than in the UK you are under a misapprehension. The exchange rate has changed things dramatically.

7. If you hope to live on a UK pension, remember it is going to be worth far less now than it was a year or two ago.

8. Do not rely on the fact that there may be other ex-pats in the area. They may be totally involved in trying to make a living and have time for little else or may move in a totally different social circle and have little in common with you.

So, if that looks like bad news – motoring in France can be just as painful an experience – read on !



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Retiring to the Charente Maritime ...or not - Getting the phone connected
Page 2 of 3 Fortunately we had an agreement with the new garage owners for water during this period, but, unfortunately when it came to paying the old meter costs we discovered that our new...

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