Paying the Price for Customer Service a la Française
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
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Dear Parler Paris Reader,
There are some cultural hurdles I may never be able to jump, no matter how long I live here. Buyer beware, because hopefully your transition from the Anglo-Saxon way of life to the Latin one, may not be so difficult to make.
Customer Service with a capital “S” is my pet peeve and no matter how well I know what to expect from the French idea of Customer Service, when those expectations are fulfilled, I am still loathe to accept them. Author Polly Platt even tells one of my misadventures in her second book “Savoir Flair: 211 Tips for Enjoying France and the French” — an unfortunate encounter my daughter and I had once trying on bras at a big clothing store on rue de Rivoli! I behaved so “American” with that culturally ingrained sense of entitlement to the idea that the customer is “king.”
At the time, I vowed never to do it again. Then, yesterday, I lost my cool. The minute I did, I knew I had made a black mark on Americans everywhere in the eyes of the French.
What had I done wrong? Four things: 1. attempted to return something. 2. attempted to return something one day after the policy limit (7 day return policy) 3. attempted to return something without the original packaging 4. attempted to return something to a different branch of the same store.
I knew it wouldn’t work, but tested it anyway. In my sweetest, most helpless voice, approaching a young customer service gentleman (who is usually more agreeable than their female counterparts), using all the buzz words and nuances I could muster, I gave him the whole “song and dance routine,” laid the full problem on the table hoping he would see my plight and come to my rescue.
Forget it. It was one day too late, the packaging was missing, it wasn’t the original store where it had been purchased and they couldn’t do anything for me. Okay. Expectation fulfilled.
So, you want to know how I blew it? I made the big mistake of saying, “So how come they can do it all across America!?” at which point the whole crew of customer service people standing there ganged up on me and I knew I had made a huge blunder for every one of us Americans. Softly, I said “Merci,” turned and walked out with bag of unwanted goods in their store bag, felt like a fool and to you, I now apologize.
It’s a hard lesson to learn. Obviously, I haven’t learned it well-enough yet. At our upcoming Living and Investing in France Conference February 11 – 13, 2005 in New Orleans, Ruth Mastron, co-author of “Au Contraire! Figuring Out the French” will be speaking and adding tremendous insights to the issues of cultural crossings for all attending. She stopped the show at the Washington, DC Conference this past September with her mascot Peppy Le Pew by her side — the amorous French skunk from Loony Tunes, who sat atop the projector, representing the stereotypes of the French we’ve grown up with. Ruth’s engaging presentation wowed the crowd with the most concise explanation of cultural misunderstandings foreigners are sure to encounter upon moving to France. “Duh!” we all cried, “Mais oui! Now we understand!”
You’ll hear more about the New Orleans conference and how to register within the next few days…or if you just can’t wait you may visit the site at /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_NOLA/LIF_NOLA_home.html
P.S. Parler Paris Après Midi yesterday brought a big crowd of both regulars and newcomers to a warm and cozy “premier étage” of La Pierre du Marais. Don Smith, who earned his BFA in photography at the San Francisco Art Institute and studied under Pirkle Jones, Ansel Adams professional assistant for 13 years, brought his camera and took some very intimate shots of those who came for coffee and conversation. Don runs a series of photography workshops here in Paris — if you want to learn more, visit his site at http://www.parisphotoworkshops.com
To learn more about yesterday’s gathering, and see Don’s beautiful photos, you can read the full report by clicking here: /parlerparis/apresmidi.html
* Let us help you put a move to France in perspective — we can make it work for you. Take us up on a one-on-one consultation that could be the start of your new life. /parlerparis/services/consultationservices.html
* Foreigners can borrow up to 80% on a home loan. Find out how easy it is. /frenchproperty/insider/mortgage.html
* Practice speaking French and English with people from all over the world! (Closed between Christmas and New Year’s) http://www.parlerparlor.com/
* Though France might seem as familiar as any other Western country, the truth is, from paying taxes to having a baby — things are done differently in France. Read the stories how other people maneuvered the system.
Many, many thanks to Erin Zaleski, Calendar Gal Extraordinaire, who did a great job lending her willing hand to coordinate and edit the Parler Paris Previews the past couple of months while living in Paris. To our dismay, she is heading back home to San Francisco next week and will be sorely missed.
Parler Paris is seeking the next Calendar Gal or Guy Extraordinaire: unpaid internship, about 3 hours of work per week to coordinate and edit the calendar listings. If you’re interested, please email me at [email protected]
If you wish your community announcement to be listed in the Parler Paris Previews, continue to please provide the text in ENGLISH just as you’d like it to appear and send it to [email protected] We reserve the right to edit as necessary.
Thank you, Adrian
Moving Parts Play Readings In English
Carr’s Pub & Restaurant
The following readings have been organized by Moving Parts
Always on Sundays, always at 7.30 p.m.!
Plays in English:
9th January Charles Borkhuis “Dusk”
Plays in French:
Contact Stephanie to book a reading of YOUR play:
Drama Ties Theatre Company presents three plays in English, at Comédie Bastille, 5 rue Nicolas Appert, Paris 11th:
Monday 10 January 2005 – 2:00 p.m. & 9:00 p.m.
with Maja Bieler, Elena Kaufman, Simon-Timothy Marozzi.
Théâtre Pixel presents…
Bus Stop by William Inge
“In the middle of a howling snowstorm, a bus out of Kansas City pulls up at a cheerful roadside diner. All roads are blocked and four weary travelers are going to have to hole up until morning…”
Fridays & Saturdays at 7:00 p.m. until December 18th
On Stage at the Théâtre de Nesle through January 2005
Travellin’ Light by Nicholas Calderbank
8 Rue de Nesle, 75006 Paris, Métro: Odeon
Alesian Literary Salon By Toby Brothers
January Salons Now Forming!
Here are the proposed salons for January. From the feedback I am getting from current Salon participants, there is a groundswell of interest in Faulkner – and some folks can only come afternoons or evenings. So now is the time to vote and commit. If you are planning on doing a Salon (start week January 10th), please let me know your preference. If you verbally offered your preference in this week’s Salon, now you can give your written (e-mailed, to be precise) desire. If you have multiple interests, please make that known as well. I promise to do everything I can to accommodate your requests. Remember if this is your first Salon, I require a deposit of 25 euros to hold your place in the Salon.
Here is my proposal:
Monday Nights: Bleak House- Charles Dickens
Now is the time to vote and commit! If you are planning on doing a Salon (start week January 10th), please let me know your preference. If you verbally offered your preference in this week’s Salon, now you can give your written (e-mailed, to be precise) desire.
Picks: Photography Exhibitions
Le photographe photographié, l’autoportrait en France 1850-1914
Vu d’Italie, 1841-1941, un siècle de photographie italienne dans les collections du Musée Alinari
New York et l’art moderne
‘Documentary and anti-graphic photographs’, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Henri Cartier-Bresson et Walker Evans
Surfing on a rocket at the Palais de Tokyo…
Well, not really but the next best thing. Come for a special evening at the Palais de Tokyo for
Included on Friday evening, will be a performance at 8:05 p.m. of New Butoh Space
Full program details for NewMix emf10 may be found
Les Nuits Parisiennes 2005
Start 2005 with panache at Les Nuits Parisiennes at the Carrousel du Louvre on January 27th and January 28th.
Join over 8000 visitors and experience 70 expositions including music, visual shows, lingerie, magicians, dance and delicacies to name a few!
For more information visit: http://lesnuitsparisiennes.fr
December has several treats in store at MUSÉE DAPPER-the premier space in France dedicated to ancient and contemporary art of Africa.
Friday, December 17th and Saturday, December 18th at 8:30 p.m.
Dance: Julie Dossavi
Musical performance of “Issa, longues jambes” by la Compagnie Vertigo. Inspired by a traditional African story, the tale reunites words, music and dance.
Sundays: 5th, 12th, 19th December
Mise en scène, choreography et play: Christine Roillet
CIRQUE: Balabala Street
Désiré N’Goma (acrobat, équilibriste) et Vincent Mézières (juggler) presented by la Compagnie Chapiteau d’Afrique
Tuesday, December 21st, Wednesday, December 22nd et Thursday, December, 23rd at 3:00 p.m.
10 euros; T.R.: 8 euros for children under 12.
Paris by Night
Take a very private and personal tour with Vincent Dupont!
Let Vincent Dupont, “hôtelier” with the four-star Les Jardins du Marais, guide you and only four others
All through Paris to see by night the city’s most stunning monuments…le Louvre, le Grand and le Petit
And all the while, Vincent tells his tales of Paris past and present…while you sit back and enjoy the
Only Four Tours Available:
Tuesday, December 30th
Invest in France Seminar Participants: 30 euros per person
Limited to 5 Persons per Tour
Mary Modified in Concert December 20th, 8:30 p.m.
Mary Modified is a 5-member electro-pop group with American singer/songwriter, Jen Jordan. Her sensitive, melodic songs have been compared to Dido and Alanis Morrisette.
The New Music Association is presents two concerts this week:
Thursday, Dec. 16,2004
Friday, Dec. 17 2004
Concert Time: 9:00 p.m.
Both concerts take place at:
New Music Association
Festival d’Art Sacré de la Ville de Paris through December 16th
15 concerts in 10 of the city’s most stunning churches (and other venues) including Notre Dame and Église St. Germain-des-Prés.
For more information and a schedule of events visit: http://festivaldartsacre.new.fr, phone 01.44.70.64.10
The European Choir of Paris and its instrumental ensemble present…
Requiem de Mozart conducted by Hugues Reiner. A Mozart Requiem not to be missed; Hugues Reiner is famed for choruses that exude passion, sincerity and deep connection to the text. Come for a night that promises to be breathtaking.
Thursday December 16th and Saturday December 18th at Eglise Saint-Séverin.
Parler Paris Après-Midi /parlerparis/apresmidi.html
Next Meeting: January 11th, 2004 and Every Second Tuesday of the Month 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
This is your opportunity to meet every month, often with local professionals who can answer your Working and Living in France questions. You are invited to come for drinks and share your questions and comments about what it takes to create a life here, own property and enjoy what France has to offer. It is also an opportunity to network with other Parler Paris readers.
Upstairs at La Pierre du Marais
Paris Soirée Dinners Every Sunday
Patricia Laplante-Collins has international dinner parties on the Ile St-Louis. She hosts a 21st Century Paris Salon where you meet interesting people in Paris and have a lot of fun. There is always a Guest speaker, perhaps a Writer, Actor, Historian — you name it, Patricia hosts them all. For reservations or to be on the mailing list: call 01 43 26 12 88 or write [email protected]
GREAT FOOD! International Cuisine
CONFIRMED RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY.
Patricia’s Tel: 01 43 26 12 88
Paris Network Cocktails Every Wednesday
Hosted by Patricia Laplante-Collins…
PARIS NETWORKING COCKTAIL
Myhanh Coaching Expert. Former Entrepreneur Myhanh knows how to create success – in life and in business because she created her own She will share how all her life, she has generated success and flowing prosperity out of her deepest passions and wildest dreams. Career Highlights: At 20 years old, starting without experience or money, she created her own international Trading company and 5 weeks later, became a successful businesswoman. For 10 Years. She had fun and creatively dealt with influential market makers. Later Cartier International asked her to develop their worldwide diversifications. She later became one of the founders of first private commercial television in France, La Cinq.
BUFFET: GOOD WINE. FUN CANAPES. AFTER THE TALK, PASTA OF THE DAY
Patricia’s Tel: 01.43.26.12.88
27 Years Of Dinner Chez Jim Haynes
Jim’s atelier becomes a salon every Sunday night where about 70 people from all over the world meet, dine, drink and enjoy themselves. Telephone on Saturday or Sunday for your invitation, directions and the door code.
Have your portrait painted by American Portrait Artist, Kathy Burke
The Most Important Thing You Can Do Before the Year is Over
Learn the best ways to watch your money and real estate investment grow before your very eyes…all while gazing at the world’s most famous monument over a frothy café crème.
Now’s your opportunity to take a holiday vacation in the most romantic and beautiful city in the world and set aside JUST ONE DAY of your busy schedule visiting museums and dining on foie gras to learn how to make your money double (and even triple — like mine has since I bought my Marais apartment just four short years ago).
December 29th, the first 100 individuals to register will learn from some of the finest experts in French real estate…how to make the most of the rest of their lives while building a portfolio of some of the most desirable real estate in the world.
Paint or Draw Portraits and Self Portraits with American Portrait
245 Euros 3-hour private session
For more information, [email protected]
Parler Parlor French-English Conversation Group
Celebrating our 7th Year in Paris
Join us at the Parler Parlor conversation group in Paris France for free-form conversation with native French and English speakers. Practice speaking 45 minutes in French, 45 minutes in English. Make friends, discuss interesting topics, learn about other cultures, progress in understanding and speaking, naturally and easily, in groups of six to eight, each in its own acoustically sound private room.
Parlor Times — 3 Times A Week In Two Locations
Tuesdays 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Wednesdays 2:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Winter in Paris is a strange time. Summer made its first impression on me, with its endless days and streets flooded with people till midnight. In winter, it doesn’t get light till well past 8 a.m., because Paris is on perpetual Daylight Savings Time. By this, I mean that we’re only a touch over two degrees of latitude east of Greenwich, but in a different time zone. We really should be in Greenwich Mean Time. This gives Paris a feeling I’ve never quite experienced anywhere and is a bit of testimony to how time, and our experience of time, can shape our experience of life.
The days have pretty much stopped getting shorter at this point (here in the Northern part of the globe). While the Solstice has not technically arrived, practically speaking we are in solstice; the Sun (sol) is holding at a little over 23 degrees south declination (-stice, as in stasis or stillness). This is an extreme in every sense of the word; our minds are wondering “where the Sun went,” even though we have a nifty technical explanation.
At the same time, this is the week that the Sun and Earth align with the galactic core — the heart of the Milky Way, our galaxy. This is exact on Saturday, which in my estimation is a large aspect of the intensity of this particular season.
Mercury, still retrograde, is slow and powerful in the Sagittarius sky, and returns to direct motion Monday. Dec. 20. Beware of the Mercury storm! Don’t mess with your computer over the weekend or through late next week, if you can at all avoid it. Just leave it alone. The chances are it will fix itself; and if not, the fix will be a lot, a LOT easier next week. If you must, begin with making two careful backups of your most important files.
The Sun enters Capricorn the morning of Dec. 21 in the states, afternoon in the US. This is the official Solstice and the commencement of winter. It is a meaningful turning point that you can feel in your body; you don’t need me or a book to feel this shift, if you notice.
Happy Birthday Sagittarius!!! Interactions with loved ones, partners and collaborators now take the highest level of priority in your life. Looked at one way, you realize you cannot do it alone. Looked at another, you see that you never really did it alone. The difference now is the need for having a fully conscious appreciation of the dramatic role that people play in your life, in influencing your views, and in helping you be the person you are — or rather, in becoming the person you are becoming. You’re never one to stay put for long, or to stagnate. Yet the rate at which you are changing your mind is really an expression of how your soul is revealing its intent and its mission to you now. Deep stuff, but you were made for it.
Eric Francis, a Paris-based American astrologer, is the author of Planet Waves, a premium online information service available at http://PlanetWaves.net/ He also does private consultations (solar returns, compatibility charts, locational astrology, business consulting, gift readings and more) on the phone and in person in Paris. Call 206.463.7827 or 877.463.8265 for more information.
American Women’s Group: Upcoming Events
January: 1/12 Musée Nissim de Camondo
Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. beginning January 11 2005
Do you work in business or in law? Or do you simply have an inquiring mind that seeks to understand the world around us? Then come to the Library to learn and enjoy at our new monthly program, Evenings With An Expert. This exciting six-session program which debuts on January 11 2005, will feature various topics of general interest from Europe’s prominent experts. The format will be a moderator and principal speaker, with questions afterwards from the audience. All sessions will be moderated by Drew Shagrin, formerly a lawyer and currently a part-time professor at HEC (and connected to AUC France through both Dartmouth and Berkeley).
January 11th “Money Laundering:Where Banking and Government Meet Organized Crime and Terrorism.” The expert is Chris Davies, the Paris-based director of worldwide compliance at Société Générale.
February 8th “International Dispute Resolution.” A primer for non-lawyers. The expert is Alex Blumrosen, a Paris-based partner at the law firm Bernard-Hetz-Bejot.
March 15th “Corporate Social Responsibility:How Europeans And Americans Understand This Term Differently.” The expert is Kate Fish, the Paris representative of the San Francisco-based consultancy Business for Social Responsibility.
April 19th “Killer of the Modern World:The Mortality Effect of Climate Change (A Case Study of the 2003 Canicule).” The expert is Magali Barbieri, a Paris-based researcher at the Institut national d’études démographiques.
May 24th “The European Union.” How is it governed now, what would the proposed constitution change, and how is the ratification process going to unfold? The expert is Peter Linton, the Brussels-based Europe Chairman of BKSH (the worldwide government relations division of Burson-Marsteller).
June 14th “EU Competition Law.” What are the rules, what are the grey areas, what are the battles, and how does all of that affect us? The expert is Pierre Kirch, Paris-and Brussels-based head of the EU law/competition law practice group of Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker.
American Library in Paris 10, rue du Général Camou 75007 Paris France Telephone: 01.53.59.12.60 Fax: 01.45.50.25.83 Hours: Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. http://americanlibraryinparis.org
Evenings With An Expert are free and open to the public.
Christmas/New Year in Paris: Activities, Events & Displays
GLACIATION PLASTIC – CH
LES SAPINS DE NOEL DES CREATEURS
PARIS SUR GLACE
PARIS SUR GLACE
RÊVE DE NEIGE MILKA
Though the merry-go-rounds are designed primarily for children’s entertainment, a trip on one of these gaudy manèges is also a romantic treat for all who love the City of Light.
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS – FACADE OF GALERIES LAFAYETTE
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS: RUE ROYALE, RUE SAINT HONORE
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS: AVENUE DES CHAMPS-ELYSEES
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS: AVENUE MONTAIGNE
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS: PLACE VENDOME AND RUE DE LA PAIX
CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS: ABBESSES AND RUE LEPIC
VITRINES DE NOEL AU PRINTEMPS
CHRISTMAS WINDOW DISPLAYS AT THE SAMARITAINE
CHRISTMAS WINDOW DISPLAYS AT GALERIES LAFAYETTE
VITRINES DE NOEL AU BON MARCHE
LA CRECHE DE NOEL A NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS
Christmas/New Year – Salon/Fair/Christmas market
CHRISTMAS ARCH AT LA DEFENSE
CHRISTMAS MARKET IN COUR DE ROME – OPPOSITE GARE SAINT-LAZARE
CHRISTMAS IN ALSACE AT THE GARE DE L’EST
CHRISTMAS MARKET AT DISNEY VILLAGE
CHRISTMAS VILLAGE BENEATH THE ARCADES OF MAINE-MONTPARNASSE SHOPPING CENTRE
MARCHE DE NOEL A LA NATION
UNAPEI CHRISTMAS MARKET
MARCHE DE NOEL
MARCHE DE NOEL DE MENILMONTANT
LE MONDE DES ENFANTS
Welcome in the New Year at the Hôtel de Crillon
The Hôtel de Crillon is opening its historic reception rooms overlooking the Place de la Concorde for New Year’s Eve, for the first time in its glorious history. Guests have a unique opportunity to view, from the terraces of these salons, one of the world’s most beautiful New Year’s celebrations, where fireworks and the revelry culminate at midnight on the Place de la Concorde. This special occasion begins an evening surely to be one of the world’s most sumptuous and interesting celebrations to welcome
Package Details: 540 euros per person, including: Champagne Cocktail served with a tasting of Chef Jean- François Piège’s creations A Four-course dinner designed by Chef Piège A selection of fine wines chosen by Sommelier David Biraud Live music during dinner Complimentary champagne all evening
Special package, including New Year’s Eve dinner and party, with accommodation on December 31st:
Superior Single Room:1210 euros Executive Single Room:1430 euros Superior Double room:1835 euros
Package includes accommodations, a bottle of Taittinger Champagne in the room, VIP gift, and Brunch on January 1.
To book the New Year’s Eve dinner contact the banqueting department: 011.33.1.44.71.15.22; via
* Vacation Apartments: Special Offers
– Rue Mazagran Penthouse Apartment with Two Balconies
The rue Mazagran Penthouse newly renovated one bedroom apartment is a haven of tranquility located very close to the center of Paris.
Pictures and more details available here:
Christmas/New Years Special
– Livingstone Luxury Penthouse Condo
Rue Livingstone Montmartre penthouse studio 7 rue Livingstone 18eme arrondissement, Paris, France.
Métro: Abbesses or Anvers. 35m2 or 350 Sq Ft.
This beautiful completely renovated apartment is located on the 7th and top floor (with elevator) of a typical 1930′s Parisian building.
Pictures and more details available here:
* Vacation Apartments
Rent a luxury apartment in Paris and in other parts of France your
* Property E-Zine: French Property Insider
Learn how to buy property in France. French Property Insider is an e-mail newsletter from the editors of Parler Paris. If you’d like to learn about the insights, recommendations, and discoveries about buying and investing in real estate in Paris and France that French Property Insider readers get every week, read more about a subscription here:
Our next gathering is January 11, 2004
Paying The Price For Customer Service A La Française
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