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Posts Tagged ‘Customer Service’

In France there is a lovely term for finding temporary measures or for saving money on stuff known as “système débrouille”. I couldn’t find an exact definition of the expression but we recently experienced it in our own unique way.

Our Systeme D

As you know, we have been suffering from heating problems due to the extreme cold weather. Last Saturday our oil boiler decided it was going to work when it wanted to and I blogged about how we were literally freezing. Temperatures were as low as -20 degrees Celsius at night and on Monday our heating system packed up altogether. That meant no heating and no hot water!

Fortunately for us, a good friend had managed to get their neighbour to sell us some wood so we weren’t completely cold. Mr Piglet and I moved into the living room and the three of us huddled together in front of the fire.

Thankfully Baby Piglet goes to the Nannies during the day so I was comfortable that she was keeping warm. When at home she has an electric radiator in her room to keep her nice and warm.

On Tuesday disaster struck, Baby Piglet caught the dreaded gastro (tummy bug) and began projectile vomiting everywhere. At only 9 months old my poor, poor baby was very sick and I had no way of getting rid of the terrible odour that had invaded the house. I bathed her as best as I could using a flannel and a bowl of cooled down boiled water but by Wednesday afternoon desperation had sunk in.

I called my Mother in Law hoping that we could escape down to her house for a few days, as she answered the phone my hopes plummeted, she was sick with laryngitis! Not something I wanted her to give to Baby Piglet.
So I started calling on local plumbers and heating specialists.

Deep down I hoped that there was another issue with the boiler and that we would be able to get some heat. After numerous calls and being told that nothing was possible for days, I finally found a firm that prioritised families with young children. We were in luck!

The guy came out and spent a few hours looking at our boiler and concluded that it was definitely down to the frozen oil. I sighed, oh well, at least I had tried.

Later that evening after Baby Piglet had gone to bed and I was drinking wine in a bid to keep warm, my phone started ringing. It was the owner of the plumbing firm – he had a temporary solution to offer us! Systeme D!

At 9pm he rolled up and came in carrying two jerry cans full of car diesel. We watched, intrigued as he dismantled part of the boiler and sunk two tubes into the jerry can. He explained that this would keep us warm and allow us to have hot water and when we ran out, we’d just need to pop down to the petrol station. Even I could mannage that!

I’d heard of local farmer folk using red diesel to run their cars but not of anyone using car diesel to run their boiler! This was upside down, topsy turvy living. Systeme Debrouille in all it’s glory.

So the innovative plumber had found a temporary (if not expensive) solution to our coldness and I felt much better knowing that my darling daughter would be nice and warm.

Each jerry can costs 30 Euros to refill and the first one run out this morning but I think that was more to do with the fact that it had to re-heat everything back up.

Jerry Can!

I am so grateful to the plumber for not giving up on us and am so relieved that he found a solution for his, his innovation has made us warm and also proved that solidarity and good service from companies does exist.

I did have a chuckle as well as Mr Piglet was getting on well with him and they were chatting just like old friends and the apero (at 11pm mind you!) was being served. Mr Piglet asked what the Plumbers wife was doing and I just loved the Plumbers response: “she’s probably in bed” he sighed! Mr Piglet was asking in fact what she was doing in her life which is the literal translation from French, the information he was seeking is what profession she had!

Do you have any Systeme D experiences?

ps. I’m pleased to report that as of todat Baby Piglet seems to have recovered although she will only eat Strawberry yoghurts right now!

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I’ve had many frustrating run-ins with the La Poste (post office) as I am sure most people living in France and many other countries have experienced also, but the lack of consistency in service and unhelpfulness in France is second to none.

Until yesterday.

I had ordered some items online from Amazon and like a fool, I had forgotten to switch my address details in Amazon to my new address so they were sent out to my old address.

The new owner averted us that the postman had left a calling card and that the local post office (remember the incident I had here when I was pregnant?) was holding the items. We were in Lyon yesterday and as we had arrived a bit early for my appointment, Mr Piglet suggested I try and negotiate with La Poste and see if I can get them to give me my parcel.

We had a bit of a domestic in the car as I was absolutely convinced that I was wasting my time but I set off sulkily to the La Poste whilst he waited in the car. I took my ticket and waited my turn, all whilst tutting to myself about what a big fat waste of time this was.

Well, I wouldn’t be writing this post if it turned out to be a waste of time, so I may as well get to the point: THEY GAVE ME THE PARCEL! Yes, I had no calling card, no proof of address – just my passport and the parcel number which Amazon had sent me by email.

I don’t know if it is because it is holiday time and the staff were stand-ins, but the lady on the desk immediately understood my problem as soon as I started explaining and offered a solution stating that she just needed the parcel number.

If only more of my experiences could be like that but it’s great to have something positive to say about them for once even if I did have to listen to Mr Piglet say “I Told You So” when I returned to the car with the parcel!

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Sometimes I think that I’m just not meant to cook! I mean, for months my induction hob had slowly been passing away and at the end I only had one measly ring left working on it, so cooking anything that required two pans (or more!) instantly became a logistical nightmare.

At the beginning of February I had hoped that all that would change when Hubby and I agreed to buy a new one. We had hoped to get the old one repaired, but when we discovered how excessively expensive it was to get it repaired and that the reparations were only guaranteed 3 months (yes, just three months for brand new pieces – that just goes to show how much confidence the manufacturer has in them!) we decided it was just better to buy new!

So after weeks of waiting last Friday, my brand new shiny black induction hob was delivered. Only, it wasn’t any good. After all are careful measuring we had managed to order the wrong size. Disaster! Yet more juggling with the pans in the kitchen!

Not wishing to have to wait another month for a new one to arrive, we made the decision to order at trustworthy Darty. We could get their guarantee extension and be delivered on Monday. Youpee!! Hubby managed to negotiate the price down to a reasonable level and we ordered knowing that we were putting our money with a trustworthy company.

So, Monday came and the guys from Darty delivered and installed the new hob. Fantastic until I saw how clumsy they were. Imagine two great big hulks that look like they’re stood on a ball (a bit like a bowling alley pin) rather than standing on two legs. They managed to break a Champagne glass within the first five minutes, and oh, yes, they also managed to break my Dietrich fitted microwave. They literally pulled the door off thinking that they could remove it from its unit by pulling the door really really hard!

Darty being Darty, they immediately arranged for someone to come round and repair the microwave. They came yesterday but quickly admitted defeat when they saw the level of damage their colleagues had caused. They needed to order a new door – which takes a minimum of a week to arrive! So, now I can’t use my microwave and all the extra portions I’d cooked on Sunday for Tuesday evening have had to go to waste as I can’t heat them up!

Given that I didn’t have anything else we could eat as everything needed to be re-heated thank goodness for Plats du Monde, a restaurant delivery service! We were able to order good Mexican food from them yesterday and be delivered within the evening without it costing a fortune and still being able to eat reasonably healthy at the same time (unlike most takeaway food). The food comes from the actual restaurant and is from their restaurant menu so you’re getting the same as if you actually went there which is good. It was really great and very very tasty even if one of the Burritos was a bit too hot for me! Next time we’re going to try Indian!

Mexican Restaurant Lyon - El Sombrero

Mexican Restaurant Lyon - El Sombrero

So, the microwave is out of action for the foreseeable future and I’ve just wasted a load of food which I’d cooked on Sunday so my kitchen conundrums are still not over!

Being British I think I’m going to write a letter of complaint and see if I can get some cash out of Darty – I mean, because of them I’ve been deeply inconvenienced and had to order food in from a restaurant!

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