So our internet connection has been slow AND we have been paying a lot for our various lines and numbers. Pat and the children had been moved onto low-cost phone contracts. Now it was the internet and me.
Enter Bouygues stage left. I have my mobile phone with Bouygues so they phoned me to see if they could keep me as a client. During the discussions the salesman suggested we have fibre-optic at the house and gave an attractive price.
Our Free connection had been playing up for months, making the TV sometimes useless and the internet very slow in the evenings. We suspected a sudden influx of new clients in the new block of flats at the end of our street. We thought. Quickly. And said yes.
Bouygues delivered the fibre-optic modem and booked the appointment for the technician to come and install it. Tuesday 22nd January. I unpacked the modem and read the installation notes. Exciting !
Then a message. There's a problem. Please ring.
I rang. Fibre-optic is not available at our house. What do we want to do ?
Well we sure wanted to do something. The new Bouygues salesperson offered a super-duper price. I said "OK", even though we would lose CNN and BBC News 24. You can always get them on the internet anyway.
OK. The new modem was sent out and arrived. No date was given for the switch, however.
Then Monday 21st the line went dead. It coincided with a slight storm. Maybe it's that. Some hours later I contacted Free. They tested the line. It was dead. They said it'd take a while to restore it.
A few days later a message from Free. We have noticed that your line is dead. We're trying to restore it.
Then Saturday 26th a message from Bouygues. Good news ! Your line is activated. Please plug in your modem and off you go.
Whoopee ! I plugged it in. Nothing.
I waited. Nothing.
I rang the helpline. "Don't worry. It'll take a few hours. In the next few hours it'll connect."
The next day. Nothing.
I rang the helpline again. "You are supposed to wait 48 hours before phoning." OK. I'll phone on Monday.
Meanwhile I was somewhat annoyed that our internet had been cut without warning or giving us any date, so I thought I'd phone customer support to point this out.
"Sir, it's normal to lose your internet for a week when you change operator."
"Well don't you think your salesforce should explain that ?"
"We can make a commercial gesture of giving you a week's refund, though. And meanwhile I am sure that either today or tomorrow the internet will be online."
"OK. That's very kind, but we have been without internet or phone for a week and it's difficult when your son is overseas ! Anyway, We'll speak on Monday."
"No sir, you must think positive."
Well Monday 28th came. Nothing. So I phoned again. We'll send an engineer tomorrow.
Meanwhile the stories started coming in.
"My colleagues had Bouygues. Nothing but trouble."
"I only hear bad things about Bouygues."
"The Bouygues modems have endless problems."
Tuesday 29th - the engineer arrives. He checks the socket on the wall. "There's nothing."
"I know. It's a problem at the exchange, I'm sure."
He phoned his control centre. "Can you be in on Thursday morning ? We need to coordinate Bouygues and Orange engineers." Yes I could.
So it was that on Thursday another engineer came and checked the socket, then phone the exchange 250 metres away. It turned out that they'd plugged the wire in the wrong socket at the exchange.
"So tell me about Bouygues."
"Well the problem is their modems. 1 in 3 fail, and the support staff don't want to swap them out, so if you get one that fails you'll have huge problems."
"And if it fails ?"
"It'll fail straight away... Wait... Wait ... OK, it's connected..."