23 November 2010

Tricky Transactions

Not Sam's Car but a Similar 'Dog'
I wasn’t looking forward to Monday. I had three things to do in ‘shops’ and they would all be difficult.

I had to try and find some replacement fuel pipes for Sam’s Land Rover Freelander car which had failed its MOT last Thursday, I had to go to the vets and finally, I had to fix the car and then get it re-tested and in all cases, I would be asking for favours – not the easiest thing in France when you don’t speak the lingo particularly well.

I’d actually gone to the biggest motor factors (motor spares) shop in the area on Saturday to get the fuel pipes. Predictably, on the busiest day of its week, it was closed. I say ‘predictably’ because there’s no logic to French opening hours, or so it seems and I wasn’t to be disappointed – they were doing a stock check – on the only day when many motorists can get down there. Was I mad?

And so the car sat in the drive until Monday morning when I had a brainwave. I couldn’t be bothered going all the way over to Grasse to find the motor shop closed again (I think I would have burned it down or had a fit of ‘shop rage’) so I stopped at the little garage not far from us. He only sells staple motoring items such as batteries, tyres and windscreen wipers but he has a repair workshop and I reckoned he must use fuel piping so I wandered into the office where he was sitting at his computer screen.

“S’il vous plait blah blah blah." Why do we have to start a sentence when you’re asking for something with ‘please’?  It makes it sound like you’re begging, which I was. Anyway, I asked if he would sell me some fuel pipe and showed him the faulty ones I had with me. Predictably, he didn’t look up from his screen but continued to tap away. I continued with, ‘the car has failed its MOT and I urgently need some fuel pipe.’

Finally, he looked up, looked at the faulty pipes and from the look on his face wasn’t too interested. I placed Sam’s last bill at his garage in front of him making sure he saw the total of €4,500. At that there was a guilty look on his face and off he went into his workshop, returning with enough pipe to make four new ones. He charged me €5 which was about right. I thanked him profusely (grovel, grovel) and headed for the vets. This was going to be even trickier.

Shadow is now on doggy medication for the rest of his life. It costs €46 a month from Dr Jasmine but only £16 in England but they’d refused to sell it to me (in England) because I didn’t have a prescription (I didn’t know there were such things as doggy prescriptions but there you go). The current bottle was nearly empty so I bought a new one (at €46) and then said to Dr Jasmine, ‘look – I’m really embarrassed about this but you sell this stuff for €46 when I can get it in England for €18 (£16), would you be kind enough to give me a prescription?’

She looked a bit concerned and asked me if I was sure it was the same stuff and where could I get it. I told a bit of a porky about the source (my son works at a swan sanctuary and they get it wholesale – that was the porky – I didn’t want to say I just get it off the internet), whereupon she took out her pad and wrote me a prescription there and then and added just as I was leaving her surgery – ‘if you can get it at that price can you get me some too.’

Back home I fixed Sam’s car, tested it and headed back to the MOT station where there was a queue of cars waiting to be tested. I caught the guy who’d failed it last week, dragged him over to the car, opened the bonnet and showed him the repair. ‘Superb’ was what I wanted to hear and that’s what I got but then he disappeared off to test his queue of cars.

I went into the office and just stood at the desk with my €5 (the retest fee). “I’m sorry – you’ll have to wait until he re-tests your car’, the lady said. ‘But he’s just done it.’ ‘Ah but he needs to come in here and do all the paperwork’, she countered.

I got my iPhone out, switched on Talksport at the top volume and just stood at the counter. I think she got the message. Off she went , dragged the mechanic in, the paperwork was done and I was off.

A great day and you can’t say that very often when you’re dealing with French commerce!  

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