Monday, June 23, 2008

snakes and ladders

On Friday BB lost the plot over getting electricity to the garage. I've been so preoccupied with moving the phone line and getting the crane here that I completely forgot that we need to get 3-phase electricity to the garage to power the crane - which arrives tomorrow. The snakes and ladders game of getting electricity connected in France goes something like this:
  1. Find semi-reliable electrician to do the wiring (can take up to six months - if lucky enough to find one).
  2. Make appointment for EDF to certify wiring (usually three to four weeks hence).
  3. Make appointment for EDF to come and wire up the heads (usually three to four weeks hence).
  4. EDF send out bill (two weeks after step 3).
  5. Once bill paid, choose a supplier and make appointment for fuse carrier to come (usually two to three weeks hence).
  6. Fuse carrier arrives to put in fuse and then you have electricity.

After finding an electrician, EDF arrived and failed the wiring but said the electrician could self-certify the work after sorting the faults. In the meantime, BB contacted EDF to make an appointment for step 3 saying that the wiring had been passed.

On Friday morning they turned up to wire the heads but they didn't have the bits they needed to complete the job, which meant we were looking at a further delay by the time they fixed another appointment to come back.

BB decided to circumvent the system by leap-frogging to step 5.

Off he went to the address on our electricity bills - 60 miles away - to try and pay the, as yet, unissued bill. When he found the EDF building - with no public parking, which should have been a hint - he pressed the buzzer but, being 12.30, got no answer as the security guards were all off having lunch. Spying an open ground floor window, he climbed in and made his way to the third floor where he wandered about looking for an office with somebody in it. After finding an occupied office - and calming the terrified woman down sufficiently to stop her reaching for the panic button - she led him to another part of the building (through two metal detectors), where, it being just after 12.30, everyone was off having lunch.

He then left and returned to wait for some employees to arrive and snuck in through the security doors behind them. The employees called for "back-up" and a manager arrived, who took him to an office where he was told that he couldn't pay the bill as (a) it hadn't been issued and (b) they didn't accept payment in person. By this time BB resembled a mini Vesuvius ("step away from the pencils, Monsieur") and after a "brief and frank exchange of views" BB's cheque was accepted. We now have an appoinment for 3 July for our chosen supplier to come and put the fuse in.

In the meantime, the crane will have to sit up in one of Mini-B's fields.

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