Readers' woe at France Telecom

The Connexion has received several letters recently from readers experiencing problems with France Telecom

9 February 2010

The Connexion has received several letters recently from readers experiencing problems with France Telecom

Contract termination problems

WE SIGNED a two-year contract with France Télécom in March 2009 and then left Roanne, Loire to cruise on our boat.

It became obvious our internet connection via a dongle [a USB key that allows internet access on the move] was not working. During our six-month trip we visited six Orange [France Télécom] stores and realised the fault must be with the item itself. We were told to wait until we returned to Roanne, which we did.

They admitted the dongle was faulty and replaced it. However they refused to reimburse the €50 a month they had been taking out or to terminate our contract. In an article in July 2008 you said terminating contracts had become easier - this seems to be an error.

Roanne, Loire

Our article related to the Loi Chatel, which gave new cancellation rights to customers with two-year internet contracts. It stated that from the 13th month you have the right to cancel on payment of a quarter of the fees for the remaining months. Details are at at Code de la Consommation, article L121-84-6.

Dead line

IN AUGUST our phone line went dead for no reason. The nearest phone boxes (a 15 minute drive away) cannot be used for reporting faults so a neighbour called for us.

The next week we saw a France Télécom worker outside our house but it turned out he was there for another job. He said it would take more than 10 days to sort out our problem, which was due to a fault on a line in the next village.

The phone is a lifeline in small villages and we felt vulnerable. Eventually the phone came back on.

When our next bill came we had a shock - all calls since the “repair” were billed to FT - even though we are signed up with OneTel for calls and only pay FT for the line.

Neither firm had informed us of any change. FT said we should have known that after such a long interruption of service we would be cut off from any other provider.

After writing to all parties we have had no explanation for the lack of customer service; all we have had is a “pretend apology” letter from the FT customer service head in Paris who has given a €32 refund against a future line rental payment. OneTel later confirmed our contract had been terminated and said we could “try” to sign back up again.

We are still in the dark over whether we have been linked back to them or not.

It seems FT make massive profits and companies like OneTel do little to hold on to customers. We now want to drop out completely from FT.

Address withheld by request

A France Télécom spokeswoman said the line interruption should not have automatically cancelled the OneTel contract and that this was probably a technical error. She said for further advice and reimbursements of money wrongly paid to the firm you should visit the France Télécom outlet mentioned on your bill.

Cut off

AMONG all the bureaucratic difficulties of settling in France the big one was dealing with France Télécom. Their after-sales service seems to be based on “rapid reversal away from any problem.”
The process began in July 2005 when we requested a line as we did not have one.

A man came in October and decided the telephone pole was unsafe. By 2006 we had a new pole and a phone that worked and we linked to AOL dial-up. Then France Télécom switched it off - it seemed there had been a dispute with AOL and their services are routinely terminated.

We asked about possible replacements - they said we could get ADSL (broadband) and sent a contract to be signed plus an orange “livebox.” Locals advised us the flimsy wires in the area would not support the service so we said “no.” A notaire helped us find out how to return the box.

In December 2008 France Télécom cut off our ordinary phone line as they said we should be using ADSL. After a month-and-a-half of wrangling they gave us a new ordinary phoneline and contract.

We then opted for another organisation, Phonexpat, to have cheaper calls and not have to deal with France Télécom but FT cut us off in October 2009 and billed us for the ADSL service which we had not had. Our new company said only FT could reconnect us but FT said our provider would have to instruct them to reinstate the line.

Our notaire contacted FT who admitted they made a mistake in cutting us off and that no payment was due. I think all of us suffering from France Télécomitis should band together - this must cease.

Montléon-Magnoac, Hautes-Pyrénées

Getting help in Englisqh

For those experiencing problems with France Télécom, remember they have an English-speaking helpline - 09 69 36 39 00 (standard rate from a landline).

Also be aware that when making formal complaints in France and where seeking to end contracts, you should do this by lettre recommandée avec avis de réception - recorded delivery with receipt slip (this can be done either in person at a post office or online at https://lettreenligne. Phonecalls and other letters may not be considered.

If problems cannot be resolved to your satisfaction contact the telecoms mediator - see You can also alert the telecoms regulator Arcep to the problem - Court action is the final option where all else fails.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Income Tax in France 2021 (for 2020 income)*
Featured Help Guide
Order your Income Tax in France guide now for immediate digital access
Get news, views and information from France