Many people stay with Orange out of inertia, even when they might be able to save money by switching to an alternate provider. If you opt for an alternative operator you may still need Orange to install or activate a line, which charges a monthly fee for this connection. Some providers arrange this procedures for you, so you don’t need to handle anything with Orange yourself. Many alternative operators also provide internet access, so you can look at combining both services.
At the moment, only Orange can install (or reactivate) and operate your telephone line. You can ask for installation and activation by:
- Calling your local Orange agency
- Visiting the nearest Orange agency (can be found on the website www.orange.fr)
- Calling the number +33 (0)9 69 36 39 00. This is a customer service for English-speaking customers living in France.
You will need to supply the following documents and information to get a phone line:
- your passport or other ID
- the start date of the service
- your exact address (including floor and door)
- your mobile or work phone number (if available)
For €55 you can buy a Welcome Pack. Orange is then responsible for opening or transferring your line to your new address.
On the website boutique.orange.fr you can choose from different fixed phone services according to your wishes.
Choosing a provider
The market is competitive, so different providers have constantly changing special offers and rates, which would be difficult to compare here. To work out what is the best deal for you, consider how much and where you will be calling and then shop around.
Some providers offer calling plans (forfait), under which you buy a defined number of hours of communications (similar to mobile contracts) or you are billed by calls made. Many providers charge the same rates for both working days and weekends, or offer calls at unique cost regardless of the duration of the call (up to certain time limit per call, such as 2 hours).
Certain providers offer very good rates for calls to some mobile operators, while others might be attractive for local or long-distance calls (to make things even more confusing, the definition of local calls differs between each operator). Finally, some providers charge special low rates to a set of specified phone numbers (which you call frequently).
As this is complicated, one thing you can do is use France Telecom (Orange) for a few weeks to work out your calling patterns and then choose. You can see your bill online (for free), so you don't need to wait two months before making a choice.
Who offers fixed telephone line services
Below is a list of some of the most important providers:
- Orange (www.orange.fr):France’s main national telecom company. Orange has some of the best deals for short local calls. Rates depend, as with most providers, on the package you choose.
- Numericable-SFR (www.sfr.fr andnumericable.fr): A leading cable television and internet provider that also offers fixed phone services.
- Free (www.free.fr). Offers fixed, mobile and Internet services. Free has become popular as is has introduced some really cheap prices for telecom services in France. Other providers found themselves forced to lower their prices as well and this resulted in lower phone prices in general, but Free is still one of the cheapest.
- Bouygues Télécom (www.bouyguestelecom): Bouygues Télécom is the fourth largest telephony and Internet provider in France.
Connection, billing, contract termination
Billing is usually monthly or every two months. Most providers ask for bank account information or require you to make payment automatically (prélèvement automatique). This does not mean that you cannot contest the payment if there is an error. Many providers take subscription fees in advance and then bill the calling costs (usually detailed on your bill: facture détaillée).
Every provider has specific conditions for the contract termination (résiliation du contrat). Check them before you sign the contract to avoid surprises if you choose to cancel it later
In case of problems
If you think you have been overcharged, contact the provider's customer service. If they do not help, contact the Médiateur des Télécommunication, whose details will be on a written response to a claim from your provider.
If you feel that you are victim of abusive or forced commercial practices, complain to DDCCFR ( Direction Départementale de la Concurrence, de la Consommation et de la Répression des Fraudes) in the department where your service provider is incorporated.
Note: If you sign up the contract by phone or Internet and it has not yet started, you can cancel without penalty within 7 days (this is standard consumer protection by law).