FREE, like 1984

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

AHHH, back to my favourite topic, beating up my adopted country. I can't help it if things are just soooo much more civilized in my native country and that france happens to be a country where simple rational reasoning seems to have gone AWOL.

Among all the internet providers available for the consumer is a company called FREE. They offer a very attractive package of internet tv, 10hrs free calls in Metropolitan France and unlimited 2MB Adsl for 30Eu a month. That's what we call a sweet deal. Unfortunately, they don't tell you about how long it takes to get this service.

We mailed (snail mail) our application to FREE in the beginning of September. It was sent back a two weeks later because we needed to sign something, then, repeat the process, they needed another form, then repeat, they needed a variation on the same form. Why snail mail? That's the only way they accept registration. Finally, when it was all said and done, we had waited over a month and half before our application was approved. Yay.

Not. Since then, we've been waiting for the blessed freebox, the modem box that delivers all the services. So, you ask, why don't you start bugging them. Well, we tried. Here's the fun part. They have a phone number, a fax number and a web address. The web address has no listing of a contact email. There is an icon on the bottom right for email, but it's a joke, a free joke! You click on the icon and it gives you a little pop-up in Outlook/Mailer telling you that if this interests you, to visit their website! hahahaha, bleah!

The letter they send you to confirm your registration, the same letter that tells you your box is coming in two weeks, has three numbers. Two of them cost 34cents a minute, and there's one free number for inscription. All of them, when you dial, give you a message saying the following:
hold on one moment please
"Hello, thanks for calling. Due to the volume of calls, we are no longer able to receive your call. If you need help or service, please contact our website at ....."
Finally, you call the fax line, out of desperation, and a little voice comes on telling you that the fax line is no longer in service!!!

So what is this? Jail? I feel so trapped. We have no answer on our situation, no way of knowing when we will receive our "freebox," no idea how long it will take, they keep changing the information on our online file. Our line used to be equiped with ADSL, and now it's not? I don't mind if you can't do something. What I can't stand is the lack of transparency.

And FREE are not the only dingbats around. There's also the government itself. If you need to make a rendez-vous with the Prefecture, you can phone them. Or not. I tried three of the numbers listes on the website, and NONE OF THEM WORK! Is this normal? It is the government, the police after all, isn't it? So, what, we need a calamity to happen before somebody gets on the other line. Even then, I'm not sure.

If terrorism ever came to this country they would have a field day.