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Thursday, 28 July 2011

EDF's final demand for zero euros - "pay up or risk being cut off"

Électricité de France, or EDF as it seems to prefer being called, might well be the world's largest utility company and its British subsidiary truly proud to be "powering the London 2012 Games" but that doesn't prevent it from making a complete arse of itself back home in France.

(screenshot from EDF commercial)

Yes, no matter how international it might be hiding behind those initials, EDF is, at its core, French.

And that means adding a totally new dimension to the way in which client relations are defined and conducted.

After all in France the customer is only sometimes king.

Consider the case of Jérémy Chassagne.

He lives with his girlfriend in the southwest of France, not far from the village of Roaillan in a house which the regional daily Sud Ouest describes as being "lost in the middle of vineyards."

It's in an area famous for its Graves Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) wines and well worth a visit, but that's another matter entirely.

Chassagne pays his bills regularly but when the most recent one from EDF plopped through his letterbox he and his girlfriend were away and, as he told the paper, he was a little late in sending the cheque.

That meant of course that EDF sent him a reminder with the standard "request to disregard this letter if payment has already been made."

As it was obvious to Chassagne that the two letters had crossed in the post, that's exactly what he did.

All well and good, except last week he received a final demand from EDF telling him to pay his bill or risk being cut off.

How exactly he is supposed to pay though, has left him in something of a quandary.

You see, it's obvious from the amount at the end of the letter that EDF has already received his cheque, because the final demand is for precisely €0.

That's right, nothing, nada, niente or rien if you like.

"It's crazy and we're not sure what to do," he told the paper.

"We could wait and see whether EDF actually follows through with its threat to cut us off but that would probably mean we would have to pay a charge to be reconnected," he continued.

"Or we could send a cheque for €0 which is what my father (a retired EDF employee who obviously knows what he's talking about) advised us to do."

He's still waiting to hear again from EDF.

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