Having moved into the 21st century courtesy of a generous friend back in Scotland, who was kind enough to send me an iphone (he had upgraded), I needed a sim card to get it functioning. We had been in Chatellerault last week and popped into the 'Orange' shop,which if you know it, is a place that eats your time like a ravenous wolf. We have spent many an hour (often fruitless) here, so it was with a little trepidation we entered the mouth of the shop. You are met by a courteous gentleman who establishes your requirements then instructs you to 'wait'. A great deal of this happens here,waiting, sometimes when you don't have to, as we learned in the early days, for example if you have a 'livebox' problem you can go straight to the back of the shop.Before the 'courteous gentleman',we would wait only to be told when it was our 'turn' that we needn't have! Fortunately they have fixed that and 'touchons du bois' their early problems of their boxes. Anyways...we hung around with others for what was too long and as we had other things to do, gave up the ghost (again).
We decided that their shop in Loches is a better option as it tends to be less busy and as we had some other business to do there, headed over yesterday. Our first stop was at the 'Centre Des Finances Publiques' where we went to sort out a query,we find it easier face to face and the staff here are always very pleasant even if your visit doesn't always result in being given the correct information. Then it was off to the Sous Prefecture on Rue du Dr Paul Martinais to just check, as we were here, exactly what documents we need for a carte de séjour or something more permanent. Needn't have bothered as it had moved, guess where?...'Centre Des Finances Publiques'.
Anyways...we could pop back in on the way out of town after our visit to the Orange shop. When we arrived at the shop there was a young man seated dealing with an elderly lady's livebox problem (!) and a young woman dealing with a family outing (5) who had come to choose a phone for one of them. Our timing was good however as no sooner had we started our 'waiting ritual' (no courteous gentleman here but Orange customers know to wait) when another four 'waiters' arrived. The shop is small and business is conducted in an open forum situation with privacy considered unimportant, it's only phones after all. The livebox problem was dealt with by a replacement and the felling of another tree (oh the paperwork) so we were dealt with by the charming young man. Can you give us the cost of adding this phone to our package and fitting a sim to get it working...yes he could.We managed in French, much as I'm sure, to the amusement of the awaiting masses.
As people who have decided to call France 'home' know, proof of identity is very important when it comes to signing up for anything but as we were existing customers (8 years) we thought our simple passports would be enough...wrong! First of all did we have our bank RIB number?,Us: "No, why do you need it? we already have a standing order with you" Him "We just do".Pauline,knowing time (remember the hungry wolf) was on our side, suggested she could pop out to the nearest bank and obtain the number...so off she went leaving me with the pleasant young man.He used the paperclip like device to fit the new sim and fired up the phone which fortunately had not been blocked by O2.All good so far. Pauline returned with the RIB number'
Do you have anything else other than your passports? Well, Pauline actually had three official documents with our address on them but unfortunately no utility bill (the holy grail of French bureaucracy).She suggested that he just downloads one from our Orange account...quick thinking again. That done he said that we needed another bill! Pauline to the rescue yet again, why don't we log into our EDF account and download one...tried this but site was so slow,plus some confusion re passwords, meant that the wolf was being well served, we had been at the desk for about 45 minutes. Did I say that the 'en famille' shoppers were still being attended to by the young lady?. The pleasant young man also fielded incoming calls as well as dealing with us in a very efficient manner which would have you believe it was concerning your enquiry (not on purpose)...great skill. We eventually had to resort to a water bill from 'Saur' as EDF's site wasn't playing.Eventually, on the hour we had a working phone and helped fell another tree.
The waiting man who had arrived just after us was unfortunately waiting to speak only to the pleasant young man and allowed others to advance to the young woman,the family had gone after 45 minutes with a large bag with a small phone! and miraculously other staff had appeared from the rear of the building...what goes on in there?...the waiting masses started being attended to.The waiting man had been very patient, passing his time with others he let go before him and even gave us a big smile and wave as we left but then he was by now very familiar with us knowing where we lived and our passwords for EDF and Saur among other things!
We would have to say the pleasant (add patient) young man is a credit to Orange and the time spent with us for the little business it ultimately brought can't equate to the effort.
Now all we had to do was return to the 'Centre Des Finances Publiques' with a sense of deja vous as we entered the reception and were about to do more waiting, we noticed the small window with the Sous Prefecture sign above it - we had actually walked past it on our earlier visit but we were not looking for it then! Anyways...we needn't have bothered as they no longer handle this or car registration,or driving licences, or passports anymore,not sure what they now do...although we were dealt with by a charming middle aged man.