We seem to get an increasing number of of odd phone calls, best described as the equivalent of spam emails, which usually start with a recorded message saying something like ‘Boris, you have missed a very important message – please press * to listen’ only to then have to listen to a recorded message starting ‘my name is Jacques and I am a fortune teller…’ or ‘we are a woodworm treatment company and will be in your commune inspecting joists tomorrow…’
I have no idea why France Telecom allow the phones to be used like this, or whether it is me who pays for the call after I have pushed the * button. I can never stop myself, just in case it really is an important message. I’m gullible like that, Mrs B just puts the phone down.
Very often the callers will also claim to be approved by the local maire or otherwise VERY OFFICIAL. I now understand that the more official someone says they are, the less official they really are, which clears up a lot of possible misunderstandings.
On the plus side we get very little junk mail through the post, and I don’t remember seeing a single unsolicited credit card application form in recent years.
We do however get very frequent invitations through the post to join the ‘Britline’ service of our local (French) bank. Apparently this is an opportunity to speak to someone in English about the benefits of the banks many and various insurance and banking products.
We always decline, as we are not currently looking for opportunities to spend more of our money on bank charges, but the idea of a bank having a whole section dedicated to the ‘needs’ of residents of a different nationality is interesting, if slightly disturbing.
Is this a normal marketing procedure? When I worked in Investment Management (many years ago) the target was often rich people (aka HNWI, High Net Worth Individuals) but I don’t remember particularly targetting, say, Russian billionaires or Dubai builders.
I’m inclined to see the idea of targetting people because of their nationality as being just a small step from rejecting people because of their nationality, but I’ve always had a hippy streak about me so I’m probably being over-sensitive. Incidentally I understand that there are more French in Britain than there are Brits in France, so perhaps British banks also now have a ‘FrenchLine’ to cater for their special needs.
Of course, if you do like the idea of discussing your finances in English, investing for the future blah blah blah and you live in SW France I’ll be pleased to put you in touch with the bank – if nothing else you should get a decent lunch in exchange for someone bending your ear about savings schemes for a couple of hours.