08 March 2008

Anger for Free

Our internet provider is free.fr and our freebox died recently. I called free, a human replied quickly, and after I explained the situation, they assured me

We want to fix this as quickly as possible so we'll send you a new (upgraded) freebox by courier tomorrow morning and also give you a month's credit on your account to compensate for the inconvenience. The new box will work out-of-the-box (if you'll pardon the pun), but in case you have any trouble getting it going we'll send a technician to you within a day to fix anything that might have gone wrong. Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention and we hope you will continue to enjoy surfing with us!

*** Only Joking !!!

In fact, it took about twenty calls before reaching a human, and the indignity of it, each time it took about two minutes on their 34c/min line to reach the point where their computer voice told me there was no human available at the moment.

When Sabrina finally got through (I had given up), they needed the password to our client area on their own site so they could order a freebox upgrade on our behalf - which would take about two weeks to "configure" and deliver.

At the same time, I got a suggestion from their email support that I borrow a power adapter from a neighbour and see if that fixes the problem - and please provide the name and telephone number of said neighbour when you're done.

Three weeks later, I called again, and politely inquired whether I would be seeing any freeboxes coming my way in the foreseeable future - it was supposed to take two weeks, after all. "Oh, no, sir, we don't give timelines for delivering the freebox. The person who told you two weeks was in error".

I have to say, we've been using freetelecom for about three years now, and their service worked flawlessly for the whole of that time. As far as I can tell from articles and forums on the topic, they are one of the best providers in France. But this is the end for me. Their goodwill has a half-life of about one day, and it's so miniscule now it's not even homeopathic.

If anyone has an ISP recommendation, I would love to hear it. Especially if it comes with uptime guarantees, even if it has to cost more ...


  1. Hi Conan,

    Remember that you are in France, so I'm afraid you can't get a good service from any ISP (or plumber, or restaurant…).
    My freebox also went down few month ago, but it seems I was a bit luckier than you, I manage to reach them by phone with approximately 5 calls, and spent 2 weeks using Mc Donald's crappy WiFi connection before getting my new freebox.

  2. Salut Conan,
    tu devrais aller voir http://neuf.fr . C'est le concurrent direct de Free. C'est mon fournisseur d'accès depuis 2002. Ca n'a jamais été difficile de changer de NeufBox quand une nouvelle version sortait (pour 49€).
    J'arrive aussi à joindre un -humain- assez rapidement si j'appelle à l'heure la plus matinale, ou 10 minutes avant la fermeture le soir.
    (and the freebox is awful compared to the neufbox)
    Good luck

  3. I forgot, you probably noticed a lot of wifi hotspots named "Neuf Wifi".
    You can only connect to them if you're a Neuf client (same principle and compatible with FON). Every NeufBox owner can share its connection to Neuf clients, and sometimes to FON users.
    I'm currently writing this comment thanks to a Neuf Wifi hotspot at Gare de Lyon, for free! (youpi)


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