Yesterday I spent almost four hours in the SFR store getting a cell phone. It happened that I had met an American woman who has lived and worked here for two years. Her french is excellent and she offered to accompany me to the store, as she needed to replace her son's phone this weekend also.
We walked in at about 2:30, and were helped immediately* by a very helpful friendly young man, who explained about the new deals available. The one I got will allow me to call the US and Europe and French land lines for a flat rate - it's apparently a great price (but how would I know)?
*(Later, the store got crowded, and people had to wait thirty to forty minutes just to get someone to help them!)
Then came picking out the phone. He suggested three, and told us the merits of each one. Okay, I have no idea... I closed my eyes and said "that one." Great choice.
He proceeded to copy all of the necessary items - my passport, my "carte de sejour" (like a visa), a utility bill with my name and address (proof of residence), and the bank routing number for automatic payment. Oh, and my credit card (to make sure it was good, I guess).
And then came the fun part. He offered to program it for me and to switch it to English. Excellent. Sixty-five minutes later he admits that it is impossible on this telephone, and would I like to select another?
Um, okay. So I picked another one. And he programmed it for me. Which took almost as long again. Along the way I picked up insurance against theft or damage, and GPS (which I'm told will be incredibly useful once I get it to work).
And in the meantime my new friend bought her new phone. And switched service plans. And something else.
Then at 6:20 we walked out out the door and fell into a coffee shop.
WTF??? (Also, apparently... "welcome to France.")