The easiest job in France

I think I might become a French electrician. Apparently, all you need to do to fix a TV aerial is only turn up on the second promised visit, park your car to block the entire street, traipse snow across a tiled floor, then apologise when you notice the underlying grease has rubbed off on the pale carpet in the loungerom, wait for the customer to ask you to actually remove your shoes, say it’s too snowy to get on the roof or go into the attic, then preach that the problem is the aerial, even though that’s what the customer called about in the first place.

<A picture of a French electrician's bill for TV aerial work>How’s that for a rant? I was the customer, and now I’m looking at the bill. It’s addressed to the wrong person, but they did get the Saint-Jean-de-Sixt part right, along with the postcode. I guess the directions to my house that the electricians wrote on the envelope helped the French post office direct it to me. I am the intended recipient.

Back in early February, a French friend called a local electrician on my behalf to get the TV aerial fixed. The TV and the cable had both been tested and were fine, so the aerial to the wall plug was the only part left that could be a problem. Initially, the lady on the phone refused to make an appointment with me, the renter, instead of the owner of the property, even though the owner doesn’t live here. She finally agreed when my friend said I’d be paying, and that Thursday was the day, so I stayed in all day and waited. And waited. Near the end of the work day, I called to find out where the repairman was. “Oh no,” she said sharply in French, “we’ll call you when we have a day that the repairman can make. You must have misunderstood.” I explained it was my French friend who had called precisely to avoid any confusion, and that’s when she realised she’d forgotten to write down that job. Her tone became apologetic, although there was no apology for either the missed visit nor the assumption that it was my fault.

The rest of the story you now know, and now I have to pay for their ‘work’. Really? Work? They did nothing! I’m too embarrassed to ask the owner to pay! I feel like replying with an invoice for eight hours of my own time wasted on the day they didn’t turn up, along with the cost of cleaning up the mess of oil and mud they left behind on the carpet. I’d take the €55.54 that I owe them for the fifteen minutes they were here. But I’m not in Australia now. No. Instead, I’ll shrug my shoulders and say “Bof”. There, that’s better already.

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I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by, my other site.

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