Thursday, April 3, 2014

Internet and Money and I'll be fine (13-Mar-2014)

Once I landed in Europe my Iphone no longer worked. I turned off the data feed so I wouldn't get hit with huge roaming charges from my Verizon account back home.

No smartphone - what's a girl to do? And no internet at our house - this meant no Facebook - unthinkable!

We also don't have access to a French bank account. We can use our U.S. bank cards to get cash from an ATM but there are international fees involved and some places charge an additional percentage or three above the current conversion rate. In addition our house rent, phone/internet bills, and renters insurance are all set up to automatically be deducted from our French bank account and we need to setup and fund that account by the first of April.

Once again we are VERY thankful for the relocation company hired to help us with these initial moving in things. Before we arrived they had worked on the lease to the house, the phone and internet service and started the paperwork on our French bank account. And there is a LOT of paperwork.

Some involved the "chicken and the egg" scenario. We can't open a bank account unless we can provide a utility bill from our new address. But we can't open up a utility  account unless we have a bank account. The  relocation agents had worked with all of this paperwork before and knew how to help.

First we went to Orange - the telecommunication company that would provide our land line, home internet, home tv, and convert my IPhone to a sim card and number that would work in France.

When you enter a place like Orange (think Verizon) - you stand in line and wait for an agent to come to you. I have read that you can sometimes expect to wait quite a while for your turn but we got attended to right away. When in this situation they have a few employees helping customers and it is impolite to talk loudly, conversations are conducted in a normal talking voice with attention to privacy of the other customers.

Right away I got a new sim card for my Iphone and a new phone number. We purchased a plan that allows me to call the United States at no additional charge, along with a number of other countries, including Ireland where my daughter is studying. We got the equipment needed and finalized the account.

Next our agent took us to the bank and introduced us to the person who would help set up our account. She was from England so the entire meeting was conducted in English. Lots of questions and lots of paperwork needed. Luckily Paul was on top of this and had most everything they needed.

Once our French bank account was set up we were surprised to find that they couldn't help us transfer money from our account with the SAME bank in the United States. We would receive user ids and passwords in the mail in the next couple of days and would be able to do it ourselves then. So - still no access to money for awhile, other than our U.S. visa card and ATM access.

When we were done our relocation agent showed us a great French restaurant. So good - especially dessert.

We had to wait a couple of days for internet at the house and the final access to the bank account but all was in the works and it felt good to have made some progress.

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