Are you about to complete your house purchase and facing setting up the utilities? Good telecom services are more important than ever, and getting the best in terms of broadband, prices and services and customer care will be important. How can you choose the best?
In France the national network is owned by Orange (formerly known as France Telecom) but competitors including SFR, Free and UK Telecom have equal access and line maintenance support from sub-contract engineers appointed by Orange on a regional basis.
With the local exchanges and lines maintained by the same people you can narrow your choices down to price, customer care and services without being at risk of a lesser service by not using Orange. For all practical purposes your only contact with your supplier is if there is a problem between your local exchange and your property and matters with your account.
Bundles and extras
All the main French companies have products that are bundled to appeal to the French market which has a different call pattern made by the average customer and certainly few if any calls to overseas non-geographic marketing numbers used by banks, insurance companies etc. You are likely to pay more for calls outside of an unlimited call package than if you used an expat specialist company.
You may notice that there is less competition in France. This can make broadband services more expensive than the rates you are used to paying in your country, as in the UK, for example. However when something fails getting technical support in English can be a big advantage and speed up the process of getting live again. Fault solving can take time and whilst all companies offer a free number to call, once you are connected you could be made to pay a premium rate per minute for your call – as is the case for Orange customers. When you chose your telecom provider, look for a company that offers support in English and a free number for the whole of the call. This is an indication of a strong emphasis on customer care and support.
One other important advantage of using an expat specialist are the free additional services that are not available from the French companies. UK Telecom offers the all these:
• Good, honest and knowledgeable advice
• A free survey of broadband availability in your search area and property of interest before you
• Management of your line installation/set-up, including a low cost number for friends and family in the UK to call you
• You can pay invoices in £s or €s
• Free access to UK catch-up TV and other services for all broadband customers
• Free unlimited technical support
Bob Elliott is the Commercial Director of UK Telecom, provider of telephone lines, broadband and satellite broadband services. With ten years of experience in the French telecoms market for English-speaking expats., Bob provides useful tips and advice on anything from a simple line rental to satellite broadband and VoIP calls, and everything in between.