I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that separating from someone you were not married to is actually more expensive than divorce.
Take France Telecom for example.
A couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that my phone number was still registered in Mr Frog’s name. As I have always harboured a burning, secret desire to see my name in print (even if it is only in the pages blanches), and didn’t particularly want to speak to any old flames or schoolfriends that might look up Mr Frog at some point in the future, I decided to have the entry amended.
The lady from France Telecom who explained the procedure to follow was uncharacteristically helpful. A fax, signed by Mr Frog, authorising a transfer of the line, plus a copy of my bank details was all that was required. A couple of days later, I noted that my name already appeared in the online phone directory.
That was fiendishly simple and efficient, for France, I thought to myself.
And then I received the first bill bearing my name.
€ 55.00 – Services ponctuels ou occasionnels (ouverture de ligne)
I phone France Telecom, to report what I am – in my misguided optimism – determined to see as an error. I haven’t just moved in, and I don’t have a new telephone number, so I can’t possibly be charged a “connection fee”, can I?
First, I explain my problem to the service clients in a calm, almost cheerful manner.
“But you were informed of the cost when you enquired as to what the procedure was to carry out the name change.” states the lady, voice dripping with boredom.
“No, absolutely not. I was informed of no such thing!” I splutter, suffering from an acute sense of humour failure.
My call is transferred to the service facturation, where I have the pleasure of starting my complaint all over again from the beginning, minus the cheerfulness.
The man ascertains that I have not changed my telephone number, and (pretends to) consult with a supervisor. When he returns, he tells me it is absolutely normal to have been charged in this way.
I am livid. “It’s daylight robbery,” I shout, trying desperately to think how to say “preposterous” in French, but making do with a forceful “c’est aberrant!”
Getting worked up like this makes no difference whatsoever to anything except my life expectancy, which is considerably shortened.
When he can get a word in edgeways, Mr France Telecom gleefully delivers his parting shot:
“There are some cases in which the transfer of a line is free. If a line is transferred between spouses, or if you were PACSé for example.”
I knew Mr Frog and I should have got married.