Bob El­liott

Living France - - LES PRATIQUES -

Over the last five years the im­por­tance of re­li­able ac­cess to good tele­phone and broad­band ser­vices has in­creased be­yond all ex­pec­ta­tions and the tele­com com­pa­nies have strug­gled to im­prove the cov­er­age of their ser­vices, fa­cil­i­ties they pro­vide on them and meet ex­pec­ta­tions when a piece of equip­ment fails or storms wreak their an­nual dam­age.

We find that we’re fre­quently asked the same ques­tions and of­ten re­ceive the same sort of re­quests for as­sis­tance. I’ve an­swered some of the most com­mon ones here to help you get the ser­vices you want, and en­sure any prob­lems are re­solved quickly.


num­bers that are of­ten used by in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and sim­i­lar busi­nesses. The first thing to do is to look at the back of bank and credit cards or pa­per­work from the or­gan­i­sa­tion you wish to speak with. They will usu­ally give you an al­ter­na­tive to the mar­ket­ing num­ber.

If they do not, you may be able to avoid be­ing charged a pre­mium rate for your call by vis­it­ing and in­sert­ing the mar­ket­ing num­ber. If they have the num­ber that this ser­vice con­nects to, it will be dis­played, so use this in­stead – it will prob­a­bly be a free call cov­ered by your call pack­age.


A large num­ber of over­seas prop­erty buy­ers choose to live in the French coun­try­side. One con­se­quence of this is that you will likely live a long way from your lo­cal tele­phone ex­change, and the tele­phone wires will be on poles and vul­ner­a­ble to storm dam­age and cor­ro­sion.

French storms are much more likely to cause power surges to your elec­tric­ity sup­ply and they can send peak en­ergy down your tele­phone line. Modems and hand­sets are par­tic­u­larly prone to dam­age in th­ese cir­cum­stances so it is good prac­tice to use surge pro­tec­tors and to un­plug equip­ment if the storm is par­tic­u­larly vi­o­lent, or if you are go­ing to be away for a long time.


First check that your hand­set is work­ing. Try us­ing a dif­fer­ent one, and also try plug­ging it into the first tele­phone socket in your prop­erty as this will elim­i­nate any is­sues with your in­ter­nal wir­ing. If the prob­lem still ex­ists then con­tact your provider. They will ask you a few ques­tions and will use web-based tools that en­able them to test your line re­motely while you wait.

If there is a fault they will es­tab­lish if it is on your line or at your lo­cal ex­change and will is­sue a re­pair re­quest. The en­gi­neers charged with re­pair­ing your fault are the same, ir­re­spec­tive of whether you use Orange, SFR, Free or one of the spe­cial­ist providers for English-speak­ing ex­pats.

The length of time taken to re­pair a fault is roughly the same as in the UK, which is typ­i­cally three to four days, with ex­cep­tional prob­lems tak­ing longer. If you get so frus­trated with a de­lay you change your provider be­fore the fault is re­paired, the re­pair re­quest will be deleted from the sys­tem and your new com­pany will have to start all over again, putting you at the back of the queue. €1/month Num­ber or name dis­play Mes­sage ser­vice (an­swer­phone) Call trans­fer Call wait­ing

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