It’s a while since I had a rant. This week provided two opportunities. The first concerns Électricité de France (EDF), about whose emergency call-out service I have been complimentary in the past. The second is about the bureaucracy surrounding the health system.
EDF reads our electricity meter twice a year – it used to be three times. It bills us every two months. Four out of six bills are therefore estimates.
Their estimates are usually in line with what we have consumed. However, in August, we received an eye-wateringly hefty bill. The small print said it was too late to submit our reading. But if we wished to do so for future bills, we simply had to enter it on their website or by phone between certain dates.
We didn’t want to continue subsidising EDF to the tune of several hundred euros. So I marked a date in my diary this week to supply my own reading. I signed up on the website. But the only way to submit your reading appeared to be to register for an additional service entitled Le Suivi Conso, which costs an extra €2.90 per month for the privilege. Paying an additional €36 per year on top of already large bills didn’t seem very fair and I was spitting tacks about dishonesty etc.
I checked again today and only by clicking on every possible link on the site did I find out about submitting your reading via their Service Rélevé Confiance, which is free. Oddly, this service didn’t seem to be in evidence when I tried earlier. I couldn’t find it then, anyway. French official websites are not user-friendly (and my French is reasonably good). EDF could at least say on the bill where you need to click on the website to get to this service or tell you what it’s called: it certainly isn’t obvious.
This story has a happy ending, since EDF now owe us €104. I don’t suppose we’ll actually get a refund, though. They’ll simply knock it off the bill after next. So we are still effectively subsidising them.
The dénouement: having submitted my reading on the EDF site, I received no less than eight identical emails saying it hadn’t worked and would I do it again. When I tried, it wouldn’t let me. However, I had a nice surprise when the bill arrived a few days later and it was a statement of repayment. The money was already in my bank account. So I was a little unfair. However, I take back nothing I said above about their website.
And we’re still fed up with their ‘partner’ phoning several times a week to ask if we want to invest in solar panels. What part of ‘non’ don’t they understand?
In France you pay the doctor directly and your health insurance reimburses you. This normally happens electronically: the doctor enters your Carte Vitale (health card) into a machine and the sum appears later in your bank account.
After a routine visit to the gynaecologist a fortnight ago I handed over €33. She said her machine needed reprogramming, so she would give me a feuille de soins – a reimbursement form that you send to your health insurer.
Today, I received a letter from RSI/Harmonie Mutuelle, with whom we are registered. They said they couldn’t reimburse me since they were unable to read what the doctor had written. Would I please ask her to specify clearly what she had actually done? It’s in the nature of doctors’ handwriting to be illegible but hers is particularly bad. However, it didn’t occur to me that her hieroglyphics would be unintelligible to RSI.
I now have to send her the form in the post (I can’t just drop it in, since she’s 25 kilometres away), ask her to complete it legibly and return it to me. I then have to resubmit it to RSI by post. Why can’t they send it to the doctor and ask her to return it directly to them? I suppose La Poste will be satisfied since they get twice the amount of postage this way.
I daresay similar idiocies occur in the UK but I wouldn’t know now. The point is that everyone is a victim of faceless bureaucracy, even the people who work in the system. There’s no point complaining because you just encounter a wall of indifference. Rules are rules, even if they are daft.
But, hey, the sun’s out, so I’m going out to tidy up my soggy geraniums. They still have plenty of life in them: I was losing the will to live this week.
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