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Monday, January 10, 2005

return story no. 2

our apartment being hundreds of years old, we don't have central heating. so when our trusty heat-blasting portable heater broke down 2 weeks shy of its warrenty expiring, you can bet that stan the frenchman and i hightailed it back to BHV to see what oculd be done. we first entered the main store, heater trailing behind us in our granny cart, to be told that we needed to go to the apres-vente shop, a few doors down. no problem. we arrive, and it looks like a proper shop where you take household appliances to be fixed, prices mounted on the wall and all. stan goes up to explain the problem, show the warrenty, BHV guy says that no problem, they'll send it back to the company to see what can be done. it should be back in 3 weeks or so.

now, when i heard 3 weeks, alarm bells went off in my head. this was our main heater. it is january. suprisingly mild at the moment, but that could change at any second. i bellied up next to stan and told BHV guy that this was not acceptable. stan started to blush, afraid of my americanstyle tirade that was to ensue. i calmly explained that:
1. i was 4 months pregnant and
2. that it was january and this was our main heat source and that
3. they needed to give us a replacement for the one they were sending away, as it was not at all our fault that the appliance was faulty.

stan blushed some more. BHV guy said no way. i thought through my tried-and-true french 'negotiation' skills---first, be polite and ask what you want; if that doesn't work, appeal to the emotional level by givng them a sob story [see above]; and if that still doesn't work, argue until you are blue in the face and have everyone in the store staring at you. if this doesn't work, ask for the responsable and start again.....

as i'd followed all of the above, i asked for his responsable [manager], and was told that he would tell me the same thing. i said fine, but i wanted to hear that from him. BHV guy left and came back, a heater trailing behind him. i smiled. stan blushed and whispered to me that we didn't really want to take this thing back with us, did we? and i said no, it was just the principle of the matter. i didn't really care about the heater [well, i did, but it wasn't the same as what we had just left for repair and it was huge!], i just wanted the effort to be made, because i knew it could.

bottom line here: if you don't get what you want in french store/boutique/ restaurant/office, try the steps i've outlined above. hopefully you won't ever get to the third part, whic is great and we love france when things work smoothly. but if they don't, try, try agin.

1 comment:

L'Amerloque said...

Hi !

The reason your negotiation was successful is, probably, because you were pregnant. The French are willing to go that extra mile "pour l'enfant à venir". Generally, children have priority over adults in France when it comes to doctors and emergency treatment. So being four months along was the best negotiating tatic imaginable. (smile)