Oh No, Not Again ...Friday, June 8th:
My Mac iBook has been making grinding noises. Time for an upgrade, methinks. I wander over to the local Mac dealership, a large bright space on the other side of the road from the Pompidou Centre. I finally get served by some young whipersnapper, "Yes sir, What can I do for you?"
I replied that I'd like to buy a new laptop and that the Macbook that I'm pointing at would be perfect ... and I'd like a firewire cable so that I can transfer information from the old iBook.
I approach the counter and he slips around the other side to take my details. Yes, the machine is in stock and how would I like to pay? I produced my VISA card. A look of horror hijacked his fizzog. "Non, non, non sir. We don't take those cards". "But"
, I began, "it a VISA card and accepted all over the world!"
All except France, it would seem."If your card doesn't have a chip inside then we can't take it"
can the response.
So, how do foreigners around the world deal (or not) with the French retail system? Hotels? Car hire? Food?
Being a clever sort of chap, I wasn't going to have this bugger up my purchase. Where there's a will etc ...
I returned home, logged onto their website and paid for the self same machine with the self same VISA card, the same card as I've had for years. Almost immediately an email came bouncing back saying "you have paid your bill using a credit card"
and that the machine was "ready for collection at the shop"
. Good. I'll pop round in the morning.Saturday 9th June:
I rang the shop and said that I'd paid online for a machine and could I come by and pick it up? "No sir. All internet transactions must be collected from another branch"
. The address was then given to me, I thanked the chap in question and rang the other shop (the HQ of the group). Upon answering his phone, I gave the salesman my name, my order number and quoted the two lines which were on the email: "you have paid your bill using a credit card"
and "the machine was ready for collection at the shop"
."Well, we're open until 7pm"
came the reply. So off I went.
At the other shop, I spoke to a chap who took me to a terminal and typed in my order number, "Oh dear, don't sem to have any in stock. Please call us on Monday"
. I was more than I little confused, "So why was I told to come here today by your colleague?"
He shot me a well-rehearsed blank look."If there's a machine in stock in another branch, then can't I go and pick it up there?"
I said. A smile spread over his face, "Yes, of course. Just check beforehand"
Wanting to cover my bases, I checked again and asked him "are you sure that they'll release one?"
He replied in the affirmative so I called my local shop and explained that I was at their HQ and that they'd given permission for me to pick up a machine down with them. "Well, come on down sir!"
came the enthusiastic reply.
I shot down to my local store and explained, at some length, the morning's running around. I was met with a somewhat aggressive salesman who thought I was going to rob the place. "No, I am not going to give you a machine. You have to call our HQ on Monday."
I started to get a little hot under the collar. "But I've just come down from there and they told me that I could take the machine from here! Call them if you like."
I paced the floor for a good 10 minutes while the chap was on the phone. He came back with the same answer. I was now getting a tad furious. The machine had been paid for, they had some in stock but refused to let me have one. Once outside, I rang the Commercial Service boss at their HQ and explained everything, including the bit about one of his employees who gave me permission to pick a machine up at the other branch. He was very sorry for what I had been put through and would call me back. He did just that but told me that the money had not been released, that was why I couldn't have the machine. Would I call back on Monday? F**k it. You HAVE my money, YOU call ME!Monday 11th June:
I wrote to my bank asking then to confirm that the payment I made on Friday had, indeed, reached its correct destination. An email came straight back to say "yes, it arrived in their account on the very day"
. I called after lunch and the Commercial Service boss said he'd look into it. Three hours later he called back to say that he had not been able to reach the accounts dept (in the same building) and that they would call me in the morning. Just as as throw-away question, I asked if he had any machines in stock? Yes, he did and he expected me to pick one up on the Tuesday morning. I thanked him and put the phone down.Tuesday 12th June:
At 10h15 the phone rang and it was the Accounts Department of the company. Yes, the money had been released. Released? I told them that their money had been with them since the Friday afternoon and what was the problem? She skipped an explanation but told me that I would have to wait a further 5 days for the machine. I asked to speak to the Commercial Service boss. The line went dead, so I rang him. He seemed both pleased yet nervous to talk to me. Once he'd guffed his way through another explanation, I reminded him of what he had said the previous evening, that the machines were in stock. I asked him to explain why I had to wait a further 5 days. "Ahh, well, the machines we have were reserved."
Well why wasn't it explained to me last night? I was lead to believe that machines were in stock available ...
My next line drew a rapid reply and a sense or urgency in his voice. "OK"
, I began, "I will give you until the end of the day on Wednesday to find me my new computer or I will be cancelling my order."
He suddenly started to panic. It's not the sort of thing that they want. He assured me that he'd do his best.
Dicked around on the Friday and told I hadn't paid. Saturday, the same story but as there were no machines, I could pick a machine up elsewhere. I was refused. Monday, my money was still not there (see bank confirmation that it was) and the boss tells me that machines are in stock. Tuesday, told that the money had arrived but they had no machines for another 5 days.
++ Game over ++