Wednesday, February 07, 2007

There Was An Old Woman ...

A frightful shuddering came from the 8 year-old washing machine at my beloved's house. As the saying goes, 'water, water, everywhere' but I was in no mood to drink it. Right then, here's the chance to do a little something for the woman I love so let's order a new one - or so I thought.

The machine (and the 'ole it sits in) was measured and a suitable replacement found 'online' at the French outlet, Darty. Within minutes they were on the phone to confirm my order. I thought that this was possibly the best service the French could offer. How wrong I was. 6 hours later, an email arrived requesting that I a) confirm the correct delivery address with a gas bill or otherwise and b) prove that I am indeed the card holder with a copy of my passport.

Hang on, you confirmed the order (including payment) only this morning and now you want me to run around for you, make photocopies and start sending faxes? My beloved faxed her papers and copy of my passport. 24 hours later, she rang to say that Darty were not happy with my passport. Excuse me? Is France's largest domestic electrical consumer outlet now acting as an arm of the immigration service? What was faxed to them was a highly detailed, pro scan of a clean and unmarked passport. I should know - I made it. Apparently, they didn't like the size of it. Despite it fitting perfectly on a piece of A4 paper, they wanted something smaller.


I had no idea that the Japanese were producing a pocket-sized A10 (26 x 37) fax machine.

Another clone was made on a photocopy machine with the passport smack in the middle of the sheet of A4 and reduced in size. Apparently, some old grainy black and white photocopy is so much better than a scan at 300dpi. I faxed this new copy with a sneer and rang Darty. "So, about all this faxing crap we've been doing to purchase a €300 washing machine", I began, "do you treat all foreigners like this?" The young man who caught my rage was stunned for a second. "Well, it's all to do with money laundering ..." "FOR A BLOODY WASHING MACHINE?? We want to wash clothes man, NOT poxy bank notes!"

"Well, there's a lot of it about" he proffered. "You see, there was this poor old lady who lost ..."

"Stop right there Monsieur" I snapped back, "I am not going to have you tell me some bloody sob story about a little old lady who lost a few euros on her credit card and someone made off with a teasmade ..." (or words to that effect). This story, strangely enough, was echoed word-for-word by a friend of mine who had the self-same story about trying to buy a TV from another retailer. "There was this old lady who had ..." His girlfriend chipped in with a story about trying to buy a fridge from another 'grande surface' and the old dear cropped up again.

This poor old woman seems to appear in every story from every outlet and, to be brutal, it's wearing a little thin ...

It'll be a little old man next month, just you wait and see.


UPDATE: the second fax arrived (€13,50 in total for 3 faxes/6 pages) but Darty were still not happy. Apparently, the space reserved for the town I was born was smudged on the fax and they wouldn't accept it. My beloved cancelled the entire order and told them to shove it up their arses. She's French and an 'arse shove' from one of their own probably sounded much better ...


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