Thursday, May 17, 2007

French Beauty

It’s been two weeks that I have been trying to buy an iMac here in France.

With the availability of high speed Internet now on the basin, coupled with my cantankerous Dell laptop, the frustration levels had reached epic proportions. Just waiting ten minutes for the damn thing to boot up was frustrating enough. When I finally got connected to the net I made the dumb decision to upgrade Windows with the SP2. That was the start of a long series of wasted hours and days trying to get the Dell, and its drivers, etc. working again. A sixty-five year old man should not have to put up with that stuff! …nor, anyone else for that matter. This is retirement; a time for relaxation, low levels of anxiety, calm, peacefulness, an iMac!

Well, the initial attempt was through the Apple Store, France, online. “Ahh, mais Monsieur, il n’est pas possible!” You see, it is impossible to order something in France, online, with a credit card that has a billing address outside of France. Since I hadn’t tried to do that sort of thing before, I didn’t know. Guess we’ll have to get a credit card with a billing address inside France.

Then I tried the Apple Store, UK! “No problem, Sir, what do you want and what is your credit card number?” Great, now I was getting somewhere. “Now, what was that shipping address? Where? France, you say?” “Ahh, mais Monsieur, il n’est pas possible!” This guy was bilingual. You see, it is impossible to buy something online in the UK and have it shipped to France. He suggested that I buy it online in France. Duh!!

So, I called the Apple Store in the good old US of A. I explained my problem to a nice young lady who said that I would have to deal with their international department and could I hold the line for a minute. A minute later (I love American efficiency) a guy came on the line and said he was the representative for these sorts of transactions in France. He also said his name was Elvis! Well, at least that mystery has been solved!

I placed the order, got an order number, checked it online and, sure enough, an order existed and a delivery date was scheduled – in France.

The next day, Elvis called. “Sir, it looks like the order is not going through. I don’t know what has happened, but maybe you should go to an Apple Store in France.”


I picked up my cell phone to make a call and noticed a voice mail message waiting for me. Calling the service, the message was from MasterCard, and asking if I would call their fraud department as soon as possible.

OK, I can take a hint.

I called them and they informed me that there had been an attempt to buy a computer in the USA for shipment to France. This constituted “unusual activity” and they canceled the purchase!

Never mind that I had called MasterCard to tell them that I would be in France for an extended period of time and would be using the card here as well as the rest of the freakin’ world. This had been duly noted on my account but no one noticed.

So, I called my French buddy, Jean-Luc. Jean-Luc is my “landlord,” so to speak, here on the canal and a charter member of the BYGOMC (Bourgogne Yacht and Grumpy Old Man Club). I told him my problem and he said, “Pas Problem!” No problem? I told Jean-Luc that I had done just about everything short of crawling on bended knees through broken glass to buy an iMac. He said, “There’s an Apple Store in Dijon, half hour away. I need to get a new one too, as well as Adam, so we’ll drive up there and get all three.”

He called the store in Dijon and asked them if they had the computers. They said they had them so Jean-Luc told them we were coming up to pick up three of them. That is when he found out that, “having them” didn’t actually mean that they had them. It meant that they could get them! Because, you see, no one really stocks anything here in France, but they can get it for you. It also meant that they really weren’t an Apple Store, but a computer store that handles Apple products and is authorized to do repairs.

We placed the order for three computers and some other things.

Yesterday, Jean-Luc and I drove to pick up the computers. Sure enough, the computers were there. But, the “other things” were not. The lady was very nice. She accepted my MasterCard, the same one that the Apple Store, France would not accept, and we drove home with our new computers.

Two weeks of frustration (actually, years of PC frustrations), but I have my new iMac. What a beauty she is! Slim lines, easy to manipulate, sexy French keyboard…err, I think Mary Ellen needs to get back from the States.

Next on the agenda, get a French credit card!