This week a tractor collided with a post delivering our telephones lines, tearing the cable and leaving us stranded. The guy who did it was cutting the verges and banks in our commune, a service he performs three times a year (early-spring, mid-summer and late-autumn). This is the second time he's taken out our line, so by definition he's now a recidivist!
For those of you living, like us, in deeply rural France, you know what this means. It's separation from the modern world, no telephone, no internet. One is expelled for a while to the dark side of Pluto.
The national network is the responsibility of Orange (France Telecom as was). They sub-contract line maintenance to a variety of local players.
Orance maintain a central dépannage number, 1015 in our case, which operates 24/7. Because the system asks you to tap in which number you are calling about, by the time you get through, they at least know who you are. (Obviously, keep your mobile charged and at the ready for this.)
Getting the line repaired
Ever since we've been in France we've had two phone lines, one private and one office. The office line, provided with a professional contract, has always come with a 48-hour repair guarantee. The monthly fee is a couple of euros more than for a private line, and this is the line which provides us with unlimited broadband. In the past this has meant that if the line couldn't be fixed within 48 hours, then they'd pay us. The recompense was something like a month's abonnement for each day over the 48-hour period. We held them to that a few years back and they paid up. No questions asked. A lettre recommandée was necessary, of course.
Orange and the 8 hour repair
I see now that new contracts are available with Orange that have an 8-hour repair guarantee. Check it out: http://boutiquepro.orange.fr/continuite-de-service.html. You will be surprised. They say: pour plus de sérénité, Orange assure une continuité d'activité pour les pros. Intervention sur votre solution téléphonique et internet en 8h.
Anyway, its looks as if this applied to us because within 8 hours of open office time (huit heures ouvrables) our chopped line was fixed by a very friendly, knowledgeable engineer. In August! In France! We've never known this happen so quickly.
Bravo messieurs et merci!