One of the criticisms sometimes levelled at local English by local French is that they still buy many things from England.
There are a few reasons for this.
One is that many French products (in our experience) are badly made and break astonishingly quickly. Within minutes sometimes. Or days at the outside.
They are also fantastically expensive, compared to neighbouring countries. My theory here is that the French economy is designed around frequent repeat purchases, but it’s not an economic model I can support on the grounds of sustainability alone.
Another reason is that shops (around here, anyway, apart from food shops) are often closed. In fact, if you want to buy something, the only day you can be pretty sure the shop will be open is Tuesday. Monday is often a closed day, for reasons of booking holidays. On Wednesday, shops close so owners can spend time with children who have a day off school. On Thursday, you should not be surprised by a sign on the door saying “Fermeture exceptionelle”. Friday, being so close to the weekend, is too much of a risk. And on Saturday, you’re almost certain to be disappointed. Sunday is just a no-go area. You knew that, right?
But perhaps above all, English people are used to a certain level of service – that level being any service of any kind. This is not something you are certain to find anywhere, unless you are clearly dripping in money.
Generalisations, I admit, but many people will recognise the truth in them.
Despite many setbacks in the past, we do still try and support local business where possible. Several weeks ago, for example, the belt on my tractor went. So I popped down to my local parts place and ordered a replacement. This, I chased up on the phone a few days later. Then in person. Every few days. For several weeks.
As an experiment, I recently phoned a parts place in the UK. They took my order, emailed a confirmation of purchase, and the new belt arrived a couple of days ago.
I’m still waiting for my local parts place to get in touch. Any contact would be nice – phone call, email, carrier pigeon. I’m not cancelling the order, because I’m curious to know what’s going to happen. I like surprises. But it won’t surprise you that I won’t be bothering with my local parts place again.