TRAVEL with pat and lew

* getting connected: telephone & internet

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 22, 2007

Before leaving Key West, I had arranged with France Telecom and Wanadoo – I’m still not sure if this is one company or two – to have the telephone line activated in our apartment, and a telephone and broadband router sent to us in Collioure.  

Everything arrives as planned, and I spread out the instructions and try to get connected. Of course, all the instructions are in French, but there were pictures, and I had a French-English dictionary (no Google translate without the internet), so I set out optimistically.

The phone seems to work right away, but after several hours, there is no internet connection. Has the connection been activated at the Wanadoo end? Have I connected the wires correctly? Is the router functioning properly?

I spend 12 frustrating hours on the telephone with people at France Telecom and Wanadoo, all of whom try to be helpful. I have done this kind of analysis many times, on the phone with tech support people, but always, of course, in English. Trying to do this in French is impossible, and finding an English-speaking Wanadoo technician is next to impossible. It’s a nightmare.

There are also issues of coordination. Apparently, people from France Telecom do not, in the normal course, talk to people from Wanadoo. Nor do people from different divisions within those companies speak with each other. Some do speak English, but it often takes forever to get connected to an English speaker, and when I call back, there’s no way to find that person again.

I remind myself that I am in France, where people talk French. Pat urges me to repeat our mantra. “It’s an adventure.”

Finally, on the second day, I call Sam, and he agrees to come over on his way home that evening. He arrives at seven o’clock. We go through the installation together, and everything seems correct. Until we get to the password.

In the U.S., my experience is that you pick your own password, so that’s what I had done. Wrong.

I had been assigned a password, which had been mailed to me – somewhere – but I didn’t have it. Sam explains the situation to Wanadoo and they tell him the password.

A few minutes later, the internet and email appear on my laptop. We are connected to the world.

That night, we watch internet clips from Hardball with Chris Mathews, and the reception is astonishingly good.

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