Monday, 12 April 2010

Tales of Remboursements


After much agonising and continual repair of our 6 year old Briggs and Stratton motored lawnmower we have succumbed to spending money on a replacement, despite the fact that we now think our old one can be repaired once Captain Sensible has the time to dismantle and clean the carburettor. We acquired our first petrol mower from the local car mechanic on recommendation of our neighbour who we employed to cut our lawn and meadow when we were non-resident. Six years ago we were ignorant about garden machines and the repair costs that could be incurred in France – we just said about how much we wanted to pay and that’s what we got. It once had to be repaired by the car mechanic, the cost of which was about half the value of the mower as new. Since then, Captain Sensible has earned 10/10 plus a gold star for his determination to learn about lawnmower mechanics, so saving us professional repair costs!

Nevertheless, it has been a good machine and if it can be repaired, then all to the good especially as Captain Sensible is cutting the meadow grass between his willow and poplar trees until they become established. However, if it was October we could cope but now it’s April, the grass is growing too fast! We didn’t wish to go a distance to the major towns in case the new lawnmower needed future repair. So, having made our research, investigating value for money (our budget got extended) and comparing machines, we decided to buy a Honda motored mower at Auchan. That was Thursday 7th April. The grass dried out sufficiently for Friday and the lawn was cut with celebratory cheer, we had it under control! On Saturday, it was used again. When there was a knocking sound from the mower, we telephoned Auchan who advised us to return it for repair.

Today at 9h, Mr Apres-Vente, malcontent and miserable, was quite definite that the mower had to be sent away to be investigated and repaired. “Madame, Monsieur, il doit aller être réparé.” We were polite but insistent that we should have an exchange or a refund. Then Captain Sensible explained that our French neighbour insists we must have an exchange or refund and that we would like to see the Manager……at which point there seemed to be a change in Mr Apres-Vente and his attitude! Voila ... we could have what we wanted. Mais, malheureusement, there was only the display model left…we agreed to have it and when we asked for a reduction we gained 30 euros! Magnificent! We wheeled it out! All done in less than an hour!


We discovered that we did not have Civil Responsibility on our House Insurance. As this is obligatory, it appears to have been an error on the part of our insurance company that it was not included, although we did inform them when we became permanent residents 5 years ago! After making a low-voiced enquiry to senior personnel, the ‘very-nice-man-behind-the-desk’ offered us an immediate reduction of 25 euros on our house insurance and this includes the addition of civil responsibility insurance. Transaction agreed … he hurried to his French lunch.


In between the two tasks, we had a wonderful hot choc and coffee in an ignominous bar in downtown Chatellerault. Captain Sensible had been here before and thinks it hasn’t been decorated since the Gestapo were in occupation. The old tables were most inviting. Mother had her slippers on… Father sadly suffering from senile dementia stared at us… but we were served graciously and most politely.

One of the marvellous things about today was that everyone we spoke to (apart from Mr Apres-Vente), smiled and was most polite and welcoming. Oh... and the remboursements!

"Oh to be in France" .................. reminds me of Robert Browning's Poem


Oh, to be in England
Now that April 's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom'd pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray's edge—
That 's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

COUNTDOWN: 18 days

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