The games we play

Cable TV & Internet boxes

About a month before we left the US our Internet provider notified us that the price on our basic service was going to increase to $145 per month. This was the minimum bundle offered giving us high speed Internet access, 300 television channels, and 200 minutes of landline calls within the US. The first year that we lived in France we were in a house that included wi-fi and TV in the rent so that charge was not a concern. When we bought a house, however, Bill started investigating getting us hooked up to the outside world and we were both amazed. He found a package with the second largest provider in the country that gave us high speed Internet, 200 channels, and unlimited calls to most countries around the world, including the USA for a monthly fee of 17.99 euros. As the end of that 12-month contract approached, bringing with it a price increase, it was time to play that same game we were used to before: seeing if you can find a cheaper price.

One advantage to speaking a language fluently is the ability to effortlessly make phone calls including to your cable provider. In the US, Bill became expert at this, calling every six months to get a different package, to take advantage of some promotion, or simply to threaten to cancel the contract and go with another company. The result was always the same with the price remaining unchanged or only slightly increasing with the offering being enhanced. That’s not so easy for us to do in French but fortunately there is a website that compares all of the deals available countrywide and puts them into an easy to understand chart. You still have to decide yourself what best suits your needs but at least all of the information is in one place. Here’s the link

One of dozens of bundle offers

Like most European countries, France has an annual TV license tax, called an audiovisual fee, that funds the 27 HD channels that anyone with an antennae can see and about 40 radio stations to listen to. The current charge is 137 euros for any household with a TV set whether you already pay for cable or not. That’s why it’s difficult to find an Internet-only deal since you’re paying for television anyway.

According to the city’s website, by the end of the year 100 percent of the residents and businesses in Carcassonne will have access to fiber. That’s not us yet so for the next few months we’ll be spending 29.99 euros for high speed Internet, 160 television channels including 40 HD ones, and unlimited landline calls to most phones around the world. We only ever watch 5 channels, all in French, so I’m not sure what we’ll do with those other 155 that include Dog TV, Men’s UP (?), and the news in Russian. Perhaps it’s time for Bill to get back in the game.

Practical note: Bill got us easily signed up online with a new provider who promised to cancel the contract with our current provider and even pay any fees involved. The equipment was delivered a couple of days later and with a bit of tweaking we were back in business. Getting untangled from our first provider proved more challenging. Their website has only a phone number for canceling a contract and to obtain the address where we could return their tuner/network box. We then got an email saying that they were aware that we now had service with another company but we would still have to telephone them to stop the billing. Preferring face-to-face discussions, we visited their retail store where we were able to drop off the old equipment, get a receipt for that, and they even printed out a letter for us to send certified, return receipt requested (lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception) to their headquarters to stop the billing.

2 thoughts on “The games we play

  1. Great article Bob! We went with Orange for high speed internet and phone calls (free to the US!) Our biggest deciding factor was the fact that they have phone operators who speak English, so when there is a problem, it can easily be handled. We still do well without a television but since we are actively working on learning the language, having a television may help us learn to pronounce the words well! That might mean changing service so thanks for including the website for comparing all the options!

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  2. Thanks Bob, for a great article. It amazes me how inexpensive internet and cable is in Europe compared to North America. We pay $160 cdn for Internet and television but no phone in Canada. Just another reason for us to move to Carcassonne.

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