Could it be possible that our Orange problems have finally been resolved?

An engineer turned up. It was T1, from last time – although his friend T2 was absent. This time, T1 had taken the trouble to test the cabling along the road on his way here. He had found that the old cable running alongside the main road was perished, and damaged in several places by tree-branches. The cable on our property – which was installed four years ago to connect us to the telephone network – was still fine.

The trees along the damaged section need to be pruned before a new cable can be installed. And who is responsible for this unenviable task? According to the Orange engineer, it’s the local council.
Now a few weeks ago we were discussing things with a young farmer near here (coincidentally, he just happens to own the land along which the damaged cable travels), and he informed us that the village had been doing its utmost to avoid this sort of work. Instead, they insist that this sort of thing is the responsibility of the landowner. I do hope that is not the case. If so, it will be a very long time indeed before this particular farmer does anything about it, because:
a) his father passed away earlier in the year and he’s having to run the entire farm on his own; and
b) he’s rather a difficult character most of the time anyway.
Mind you, even if the village turns out to be responsible, it will still be a very long time indeed before the village does anything about it. And I don’t have a stepladder tall enough.

Anyway, LSS visited the Mairie in the afternoon to tell them that Orange had requested that the trees be pruned.

As a temporary measure, the engineer removed the wall box which was installed when we were first connected four years ago. He replaced it with a new one, and this time it has a proper telephone connector rather than just an RJ11 port marked in bold type “TEST PURPOSES ONLY”. He then plugged in an ADSL filter, and connected the Livebox to that. At least the telephone works now. We’ll see if it lasts.


I’m pleased to report little chicky has survived, and is eating and drinking normally. (S)he is becoming more accustomed to us, and now whenever we arrive at the rabbit cage home, we are greeted with lots of cheeping.

The Livebox is still going up and down like a yo-yo. Through the satellite internet, connection was established with customer service, who called LSS’s mobile.
“But an engineer visited you on the 15th!” said the Orange Customer Service (there’s an oxymoron for you) representative.
“No they didn’t. We were home all day and nobody turned up.”
“Oh! Let me just check the address. Ah. That’s the problem: there’s no house number provided! Just *Road Name*.”
“In that case how is it possible the previous engineers found us? And your information is incorrect anyway. That *Road Name* is about four kilometres away. The address is simply ‘La Darnoire’. It’s an old farm.”
Directions were then given, with a request that these details be noted on the account.
“An engineer will be with you on Tuesday next week.”

Yes, of course they will.

Payal donations are now being gratefully accepted for a much-needed holiday. Or a one-way ticket for two to the Bahamas; we’re not fussy.


Well, I had no need to worry about the technicians saying everything was fine and the visit would be chargeable.

They simply didn’t turn up.

But the funny thing is, when I looked at the incident report online, it stated the following: (translated of course)
“A technician came at the date and time agreed with you. He could not gain access to your home to check the proper operation of your line. If the fault persists, you can contact a client advisor to arrange a new appointment.”

I wonder where he went?


I split some more firewood in the morning, and was interrupted by a commotion in the hen pen. The single chick which we had separated (with its mother) from the rest of the flock had somehow managed to escape through the dividing fence, and was again being attacked by the others, including George. I rescued it, and we put it into one of the rabbit cages. It has no feathers left on its neck, and a large chunk of skin is missing. Hopefully it survives; if so we’ll keep it in the rabbit cage until it’s large enough to defend itself from the others. The other four chicks have doubled in size and seem to have been accepted by the rest of the flock; mind you, their mother is a nasty piece of work – and fairly high up in the pecking order, so that may have had something to do with it. If we decide to repeat this process in future, we’ll only allow one broody hen at a time.

Oh – and the Livebox light was still green. Friend V telephoned LSS. Halfway through the conversation, the phone went dead as the Livebox light went red. I expect the technicians tomorrow will look at the green light and say “You see! Everything’s fine. You’ve called us out without a good reason, so that’s chargeable.” “Kerching,” says the Orange cash register.


Not long, is the answer to the last question I asked. This time, I managed to find an English-speaking technical support number for Orange. And in case you’re reading this in France, and need to call Orange, it’s 09 69 36 39 00. Anyway, as I was listening to the “on-hold” music, the Livebox cut off again. It came back on, I called again, listened to the “on-hold” music, it cut off. It came back on, but by then I’d lost the will to live, so didn’t bother trying again. Ten minutes later the phone rang. And it was the English Orange technical support! They informed me that the engineers who visited on the 11th had NOT in fact finished their task, and would be returning on Friday 15th. Would I be at home? Yes, I’ll make a special effort.

The morning was spent in the middle of a cloud of mosquitoes, cutting up the larger of the two fallen aspens. However, I’m currently using a lotion containing 50% DEET, and only have one horsefly bite. The wood was brought back with the tractor, and I spent a couple of hours in the afternoon with the axe.

In the evening we went to a barbecue at Friend E. We then went to the Mairie, where the traditional pre-14th of July event was taking place. All the children were given cardboard lanterns containing candles, and a procession took place, winding through the village to the local football grounds. We took a shortcut, instead of going the long way round with the procession. When everybody had gathered at the football grounds, there was a firework display.


Well. Not a day goes by recently without my talking about Orange. I expect you’re sick of it by now. Well, so are we. You see, Neighbour J called us to tell us she had some rabbit pelts for us. Two minutes after the telephone call, the Livebox went “click” and the light started flashing red again. I was right after all. It works fine as long as you don’t use it.

We did some research online – thanks to Europasat – looking at the offers from Bouygues and the other telecommunications company, SFR. The latter is a distinct possibility; at least their equipment is not made by Sagem. Sagem makes the Orange Livebox, and on all the fora (plural of forum in case you wondered) I’ve looked at, Sagem does not seem to have a good reputation.

Anyway, as we were going to Romorantin in the afternoon to have some passport photos taken, I took the Orange Livebox along. We popped into the Orange shop and had them test it. It worked fine. So when we got home again, we plugged in the Livebox. And the light stayed flashing….

I checked the Orange website to see if there were any incidents. “There are no problems in your area,” the site informed me.
Which tells me it’s either the line itself or a problem at the exchange. So LSS called them once again from the Aged FIL.
“There are problems in your area,” they said. “They will be resolved by midnight on the 15th.” Upon LSS expressing disbelief, and a short explanation of why; they did a “line reset”. The light on the Livebox immediately went green again. I wonder how long it will last?


(Alternative title: “When in France, Always Blame the Customer”)

I re-entered the house at 13:30, having spent all morning working on the problem with the reedbed sump. Almost immediately I received an SMS from LSS saying that the Orange technician was on his way. I replied saying I’d believe it when I saw it…

Wonder of wonders. Two minutes later a van arrived containing two Orange technicians. “We’ve come to investigate a problem with your Orange connection.”

I led them indoors, where the Livebox was displaying a flashing orange light. For brevity I shall refer to the technicians as “T1” and “T2”.
“So,” said T1. “When did the trouble start?”
“30th May,” I replied.
His eyebrows shot up. “30th MAY???”
“That’s correct.”

T1 unplugged the RJ11 cable from the wall socket, and plugged in a large piece of test equipment. The light on the Livebox obviously started flashing red as it lost what little connection it had. After a few moments:
T1: “It’s not finding it.”
He unplugged the test equipment, and reconnected the RJ11 cable. The Livebox was still flashing red.
T1: “It’s the box. You’ll need to change it.”
Me: “What, again?”
T2: “Oh! It’s been changed already? When?”
Me: “In April I think.”
T2: “Oh.”

T1: “What’s this thing?” (pointing to my Linksys router)
Me: “A Linksys router. It’s not connected to your Livebox. We were so fed up with Orange, that we got a satellite internet connection instead.”
T1 grunted.
“It’s a switch”, T2 said to T1. Yes, technically correct. It’s an ADSL router with an inbuilt switch, and the router part is not currently being used.

T2 then pressed the wifi button on the Livebox (I don’t use the wifi on the Livebox, even when we HAD an internet connection; so it was switched off). He seemed quite disappointed that it made no difference to the flashing red light.

T1 again unplugged the RJ11 cable from the wall socket. He examined the cable. “I don’t like the look of this wire, it’s not original.” He turned to me. “This is the problem. It belonged to the first box, so that’s probably why it’s not working,” he said. (No it didn’t, actually. It originally belonged to my 3-Com modem. But it’s longer than the one provided by Orange, so it can be routed neatly under LSS’s desk).

He plugged in the test equipment again.
T1: “Oh. It’s still not getting a connection.”
T2: “Try setting the speed.”
T1: “what should it be?”
T2: “2 meg.”
T1 fiddled with some buttons on the console.
T1: “It’s found it.”
T1 unplugged the test equipment, and dug in his bag, coming up with a length of RJ11 cable, which he connected to the wall socket. He gave the other end to T2, who plugged it in to the Livebox. The Livebox was still flashing red.
T2 switched it off and on again. (That’s an IT joke).
The light went from flashing red, to flashing orange, to steady green.

T1: “There you go. The problem was your wire.”
Me: “Thanks very much. Are you sure it’s going to stay like that?”
T1: “Oh yes, it’s all fixed now.”
Me: “Very good. Bon journée.”
They drove off.

I came back into the house to check, and burst out laughing. The light was flashing red. I sent an SMS to LSS to tell her. She called them; and they said they were testing the line and it would come back on momentarily.

True enough, the light started flashing orange. After a good five minutes, it hadn’t changed; so I left it to its own devices and went back to my work on the reedbed.

At 15:30, when I checked again, the light was green. I switched the wifi off.

Unconvinced of their explanation that my cable was at fault, I unplugged their RJ11 cable, and reconnected my original cable. (You see, in my box of computer bits-and-pieces, I do have a couple of spare RJ11 cables. When we had problems initially, I did try a different cable. It made no difference).

The Livebox light flashed red. Then orange. Then steady green.

So, it’s not the wire then.

An hour later there was a “click” from the Livebox. And the light started flashing red again. Just for the fun of it, I unplugged my RJ11 cable, reconnected theirs, and rebooted the box.
Result: the flashing red light continued to flash red.
Some time later I once again connected my own cable. The light turned green again about three minutes later.

So, apart from all of today’s fun with Orange, I managed to sort out the issue with the greywater sump. I removed the plastic barrel, enlarged the hole in the ground, and then poured a limecrete foundation, basically encasing the plastic barrel in limecrete. This should eliminate the need for bricks to hold it down when the water table rises. A new bilge pump was then installed, and everything is now back in working order.


As a distraction from all the fun with telephones, I’ve started brewing another batch of beer; a wheat beer this time.

The redcurrant bush is laden with ripe fruit, so these were picked. We have over 600g of berries. No idea what we’re going to do with them; LSS is thinking of making a cordial. And her dire predictions about the potato crop have so far proved unfounded; she dug up two potato plants and they had each produced some good-sized potatoes.

The hens and chicks are doing fine; two days ago we separated the hen with the single chick from the rest because the poor little thing was being attacked by the other mother hen. Unfortunately the other little chicks are small enough to get through the plastic fencing separating their pen from the Big Wide World. And as we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, so we need to keep an eye on the cat until such time as the chicks have grown too large to fit through the apertures in the fence.


The phone went dead again. LSS called Orange, and they looked at yesterday’s incident report and said they would be sending an engineer. “Oh, wait a minute,” said the Orange technician. “It just so happens that we have an engineer in your area already. They will be with you between 13:00 and 18:00 today.”
“Oh goody,” said LSS.


Did an engineer visit between 13:00 and 18:00?

If you answered “No”, have a banana.

Oh – and do you want to hear something funny? I received an email from Bouygues regarding the order of my sim card for my mobile. They have cancelled my order due to an “unfavourable evaluation”. Whatever that means. So I don’t think the poor service from French telecommunications companies is limited to Orange. I’ve even been considering the UK’s Vodafone; but what’s stopping me is the monthly costs. All I can say is: if you’re thinking of moving to France, don’t.


The phone line went dead again. They have obviously read the previous blog entry. LSS called Orange from the Aged FIL and, for the first time ever, managed to speak to someone intelligent. They ran a test, and said that the line was “unbalanced”. Although as far as I can tell, the telephone poles look vertical enough.

A “stabilizing program” was then run. The technician said he would keep an eye on the line statistics over the next two days, and if the line became unbalanced again an engineer would be sent out.

The phone then came back on. It seems to be fine unless you actually use it.

Friend E came around in the afternoon, and we had our first barbecue of the year; some wild boar chops. And funnily enough, we realised that the food miles were zero for pretty much the entire barbecue. Charcoal: made on site. Wild boar: hunted on site. Lettuce, potatoes: grown on site. Beer and wine: brewed on site. The only exceptions were the seasonings and the dessert; a chocolate mousse-type thing brought by Friend E.