Friday, August 10, 2012

A series of unfortunate events...that happen every day

I have often heard the French are lazy.  At first I thought - this can't be true.  I don't actually know anyone who works anything close to the mandated 35 hours. (It's more like 47-hour weeks.) It's true that they like to eat 2 hour lunches and 5 hour dinners, but they are not lazy about getting work done.

And then a year passed
And I started to see a pattern.
This is what happened the other day at Darty, the Electronic Supply Store.

KB telephoning ESS 

ESS Service Center:  Hello Madame.  Please hold a minute. (I hear her talking for 2 minutes) Bonjour Madame.  Merci d'attendre une minute (je l'entendre parler avec son manager pendant 2 minutes

ESS Service Center:  Excuse me, thank you for holding. Merci, excusez-moi.

KB: Hi, You've just delivered a stovetop to my apartment and the hole in our countertop is not the right size.  Your delivery guy told me you have a service for that? Bonjour je viens d'être livré d'une plaque et le trou chez nous n'est pas de la bonne taille.  Vous avez un service "encastrable" pour l'elargir?

ESS Service Center: Is there a problem? Il y a un problème?

KB:  Yes, but not with the product.  Your delivery person told me you have a service for that - service "encastrable" Oui, mais ce n'est pas avec le produit, le livreur m'avait dit que vous avez un service pour ça, qui s'appel "Service Encastrable".

ESS Service Center:  Yes, but my computer isn't working . You'll have to go into the store, Madame. Oui, mais mon ordinateur ne fonctionne pas. il faut aller au magasin Madame. 

Luckily the closest ESS is a 5 minute walk from KB's apartment.

At the reception Desk:  Hi, I have a problem with a stovetop and they told me you have a service to widen the hole for the stovetop? Bonjour, j'ai un problème avec un plaque et ils m'ont dit que vous avez un service pour elargir le trou?

ESS Reception Desk:  Yes, but you have call and make an appointment. Oui, mais il faut appeler pour prendre rendez-vous.

KB:  Yes, but I just called to make the appointment and they told me to come into the store. Oui, mais je viens de les appeler et ils m'ont dit qu'il faut venir au magasin.

ESS Reception Desk:  So you need to see my colleagues downstairs. Donc il faut aller voir avec mes collegues en bas.

Downstairs at the Electronic Supply Store there are 2 people for the entire floor of: all kitchen and bathroom appliances,  vaccuums, refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens. 
4 people are waiting. 
The trick is to not stop looking at them.  If they think you will let up by distracting yourself with a machine - you are clearly have not waited long enough.


Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens:  Ok so what do you need? Ok donc, qu'est qu'il vous faut?

KB: (Repeats the history of our stovetop) So I need an appointment for the service "encastrable".  Donc j'ai besoin du service "encastrable"

Monsieur refrigerators,washers/dryers, stoves/ovens: Ok we'll do that.Ok on vas faire ça.

He gives me a receipt with a barcode

Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens: You can pay upstairs with my colleague and then come back down here and we'll make you an appointment. Vous pouvez payer en haut avec ma collegue et revenir qu'on les appel pour un rendez-vous.

Upstairs, after the barcode is scanned and Madame is ready to run my credit card

ESS Reception Desk:  You are buying this service for a door? Mais vous faites pas un porte vous?

KB:  Non

ESS Reception Desk:  He made a mistake.  He must redo the receipt. Il s'est trompé.  Il faut qu'il refasse la feuille. 

Downstairs AGAIN

Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens: Oh, I did!  I don't know why I did that! Ah oui!  Je ne sais pas pourquoi j'ai fait ça!

KB gets the receipt, goes upstairs, pays, comes back downstairs.

Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens: Ok, Let's call for an appointment! Ah oui, On va les appeler.

KB:  I would like the soonest appointment possible. Tomorrow? J'aimerais bien la plus vite possible.  Demain?

Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens: (laugh) Not likely! (smile) It's vacation! It is going to take a long time!Mais non. C'est les vacances! ça va prendre longtemps.

Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens calls: Oh no! It's not possible! They don't even respond anymore.  It rings busy and I am just supposed to keep calling until I get through?!  I am going to go see my director! Ah non!  C'est pas possible!  Ils ne répondent même plus.  ça sonne occupé maintenant et il faut qu'on continue à rappeler jusqu'au qu'on as quelqu'un.  Je vais voir avec mon directeur. 
The ESS service center changed the call system so that even when their own stores call in - there is no answer, no voice mail.  It just rings. and they have to keep calling until someone picks up. 

Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens goes upstairs and comes back 5 minutes later.

Monsieur refrigerators, washers/dryers, stoves/ovens: We're going upstairs.  It will be my director that calls. He has a different number than I do. On va la haut ça sera mon directeur qui appel.  Il a un autre numéro que moi.


KB sitting at the desk waiting for the director for 10 minutes.

ESS Director:  You are the one waiting for an appointment...? C'est vous qui attend...

KB:  Yes! Oui!

ESS Director:  The line is busy. I''ll call you when I am able to get through. La ligne est occupé.  Je vous appel quand j'arrive de les avoir.

KB thinks:  You, the director, are going to keep calling until you get an open line and then call me back with the appointment?  I forsee me having to come back here tomorrow.

The alternate title for this post was:  How to make simple things very complicated and time consuming

So it's not that I think the French, or perhaps the Parisians, are lazy- they are just unwilling to invite more complication where even the most simplest (making an appointment) of tasks is complex.

Total time of the unfinished task: 90 minutes.

No comments: