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frank

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  1. Well, I could find things to gripe about but I wouldn't dare be the first to start the thread as I've already been labelled as a bitter person so I'd be feeding that image for those already convinced they know me so well despite knowing nothing about me at all.

    I'd be keen if you started the thread though, or anyone else. Maybe one day I'll pop my head above the parapet and risk getting it blown off again and I'll join in the conversation.

  2. No, it doesn't make them right, it doesn't make me right, but I think I can be allowed to be frustrated by the inconsistency of it all at the very least (I say frustrated, but you say "bitter", which has slightly different connotations and I think has been used to illicit a response).

    Chancer's situation is an absolute nightmare. I don't think I could have lasted as long as he has without moving away from it all. He's probably bitter, frustrated, angry, seathing, incensed . . . pick your word. He's allowed to be any one of them and they all fit the bill. Why do you seem to question the fact that I should be bitter, or any other word I've mentioned, as if I shouldn't be? I'm not the first person to moan about something on the forum am I? I'm sure you've moaned at times yourself. I wouldn't get on your back about it and accuse you of being "bitter" had you described your experience in the French city you mention. But I bet you were as "angry" about it as I was when I made my post.

    I've paid the fine, paid it three days ago. But it's not going to stop the rest of the world parking on pavements and potentially causing mayhem and disruption which seems to worry so many people.

    The way, I suppose, to stop people breaking the law is to not give in by paying up when the law's enforced inconsistently, but to contest it. But, as you say, that would have gotten me nowhere and I'm no hero anyway. So, the problems remain, people will continue to get bitter/frustrated/angry but no-one will make a fuss.

    No-one commenting on this post would have made a fuss. All of them would have paid the fine had they been in my situation, even though they might have thought that it wasn't quite fair to make them pay when others get away with breaking the same law on a different day. Yes, that's life . . . don't need any lectures on the way the world works thank you.

    I think I'll start a thread on "What drives me crackers in France" and see how many replies it gets. And, before anyone accuses me of being a moaning Brit, I love it here and wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

  3. Sue said . . .

    "We discovered very early on in our time in France that summer holiday time/ fêtes times mean that extra profit can be made from car drivers.

    Usually for us, living in a tourist area, this means the arrival of the summer-time trainée police cadets who are enthusistic in the extreme and whose vigilance as to the slightest infraction has to be seen to be believed.

    The rest of the year is completely different except for the odd occasions when someone, somewhere decides that not enough fining/admonishing has been going on and suddenly there are police at nearly every roundabout - and we have many of those - doing contrôles and breath testing all and sundry."

    Thanks Sue for confirming, for me at least, the over-eagerness of some reporting officers who could show a little bit of consideration, take into account the exceptional circumstances people find themselves in at times and hold back on issuing fines for a short while.

    As you say, once the festival is over, people go back to breaking the law in the same way and go un-punished and reporting officers seem to disappear with the festival-goers.
  4. For the record . . . We went into town again this morning and (sad I know) decided to count the cars we saw parked illegally on the pavement, just for the heck of it.

    One hundred and four cars were parked either fully on the pavement or half on and half off. This was on our 35 minute run from home and into a tiny fraction of the streets in the town itself. Some of those parked were actually causing no problems to pedestrian traffic at all as the pavements they were on were easily wide enough for people to pass by comfortably but, nevertheless, parked, according to the law, illegally. Some of them left no room at all for people to pass and would have forced anyone wanting to get past into the road. Three were parked in the same place I was parked when I was reported.

    We were in town early and could tell that probably most of the cars we saw had been parked overnight and it's pretty much a certainty that they'll be there tonight and every night. Some of them may have been parking on the pavement for years. I'ts a fair bet too, that none of the 104 owners are likely to be fined, or that some will and some won't while commiting the same offence.

    Mike (michelin 79) talked about a culture of doing this in France and I wouldn't argue with him at all.
  5. To Nomoss,

    You're still doing it though! Still not smart enough to know when you're being rude. First, you suggested I wasn't clever enough to look up words in a dictionary, and stated that on a public forum, and are now covering yourself by calling your insults banter, which I suppose is meant to justify the insult. Pretty desperate.

    And, ONCE MORE, I did not ask for a translation of the two words, I asked if people on the forum knew what the position of Agent Verbaliseur (or "Reporting Officer") actually entailed. Has that not sunk in yet? It had nothing to do with dictionaries.

    Now, without having ever met me, you assume I'm a delicate character, whatever that means. Is that an insult too?

    And you call me a moaning Brit who can't accept that people in other countries might have different ideas from mine and that I consider myself deserving of better treatment than the local peasantry. More insults. What, do you have some sort of disorder that stops you from knowing when you're insulting people?

    You say that I don't seem to have experienced rude yet. I presume that means you think you're capable of being ruder and the only thing that stops you is the fact that this forum is moderated? Well, how proud you must be.

    You're making a lot of assumptions, and criticisms that are actually nothing like accurate, about someone you've never seen or met.

    For Christ's sake give up trying to justify your own failings. I didn't post on this forum to insult you, so be kind enough to stop doing that to me. I wouldn't imagine you would do the same if we were physically in the same place, but you seem to find it easy to do on a forum. Besides the fact that this conversation is getting absurd and personal, I won't be replying to any further posts you send as you seem to enjoy the conflict while offering nothing of any use. Please yourself!
  6. We can discuss this matter all day long and I would have been happy to do so with you from the outset.

    But your original post did one thing and one thing only. You simply insulted my intelligence. This is what you said, remember . . .

    "I would have expected that after more than four years living in France that the OP might have picked up the knack of looking up words he doesn't know in a dictionary, if he owns one, which is also an excellent way of expanding one's vocabulary"

    You mentioned absolutely nothing about the topic I posted. It was a pointless and hurtful comment.

    Nothing you have said since absolves you from the fact that you were rude. You may be smart enough not to park illegally, but not smart enough to know when you are being rude.

    I am not arguing with you either, just pointing out to you that you shouldn't insult strangers at the drop of a hat and not expect them to respond or to be hurt..
  7. Thanks,

    Actually, nothing was ever attached to the vehicle and we weren't aware we'd caused a problem until we checked our post two days ago. To contest the fact that the location was wrong (how can they get the location wrong?) will probably, as you say, do nothing more than delay the fact that we have to pay the fine eventually, so I don't think we'll bother giving ourselves more agro. It's just frustrating for the reasons I've stated earlier that we (and others) even found ourselves in this position and now we all have to cough up. Oh well, where's the cheque book?
  8. To Chancer,

    Your situation over the past 10 years is in no way similar to the one-off situation I found myself in. In your position I would have been just as unhappy and angry. You had 10 years of unselfish people willingly disrupting your life, I did something I had little choice about and am not an inconsiderate person. You're painting everyone with the same brush.

    We do need jobsworths to keep us on track at times, but not jobsworths who wear blinkers and always only see one side of an equation. That's what creates the stereotype.
  9. To Nomoss,

    Now you're not making any sense at all and picking bits out of my original post that you think add something to your original comment, which they don't. No matter how you try to defend your reasoning by doing this, you're not doing yourself any favours.

    Where do you get the idea that I questioned the authority of the students? Or the fact that they were young? Read my second post on this topic, maybe you'll think slightly differently about the first one, probably not though.

    The basic point is that you offered nothing to the post and were rude for the sake of it, probably thinking you were amusing. Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, don't they say.

    And, as I have already said, you have not explained any concepts at all, simple or otherwise. You just showed us that you can translate the Englsih language to French using particular sources and seem to think that you can do that better than I can, and presumably anyone else.

    Say something useful or say nothing at all.
  10. In reply to Nomoss

    Thanks for your comment, your'e clearly very witty.

    I did find the term "reporting officer" before I asked the question. But that gave me no more of an idea about what a reporting officer was. The question could just have easily been "What, or who, is a Reporting Officer? A policeman? A member of the public?. Do you follow?

    I wasn't asking for a translation of the words (I too have a dictionary and a computer you see) but a description of the postion. One person who responded to the post stated "An agent verbalisateur is a person who is authorised to issue the contravention, probably but not necessarily the police municipale". Informative but still not very concise if anyone really wanted to know about the post.

    Can you actually tell me, without enabling a fairly accurate guess, as you put it, exactly what, on the Avis de Contravention a Reporting Officer refers to or what he does?

    Perhaps someone on the forum will know exactly, which is why I asked, perhaps not. I'll sleep tonight either way. However, despite your clever comment you don't seem to know either. See, your wit doesn't make you any wiser. Never mind, you can obviously translate French words directly into English words and probably visa-versa albeit using dictionaries and Google Translations, which is an amazing feat but one that more people than you may realise can also do.

    Perhaps if you really want to test your abilities you could find out more about Reporting Officers and get back to me with some useful information. I won't be holding my breath.
  11. In reply to Chancer,

    OK, so you've made a point that I totally agree would be justified in normal circumstances. I parked on the pavement, caused a potential nuisance now need to pay the fine. My "glib" comment was just that, trying to grag some humour out of adversty! I'm not actually going to throw a brick through anyone's window, or pour water through someone's car window, which you did and which resulted in someone else retaliating in kind. I am angry about the situation but not stupid enough to carry out any sort of retaliation.

    I actually have a mobility problem but am not yet so unwell that I am entitled to disability or a disability badge but had no choice other than to park where I did. Actually, I did have a choice . . . I could have parked on the pavements even further away! My errand was a long-standing appointment with a neurologist in town and the 15 minute walk was very difficult. To go back home would have meant re-scheduling the appointment which would have meant a long delay.

    I say these were not normal circumstances and you can preach all you want about the problems caused by people parking on the pavement. You, nor those who have commented so far on this post, are likely to understand how difficult the festival, and the way the council handle it, makes life for the locals. "So what?" I hear you say "Big deal!" But, without you knowing the background your response becomes useless. So read on if you wish or not.

    The festival, for all its merits, causes huge problems and is now too big for the council to cope with. All the main parking areas within the centre and outside the centre are used for the exhibitioners to park their vehicles. All the side streets, the streets around the centre to a distance of about a kilometre are taped off or have huge concrete blocks with metal bars connecting them actually PLACED ON THE PAVEMENT to stop people parking on them. And the irony, if you can see it, is that not even pedestrians can use these pavements. The council in many parts of the town are guilty of blocking off the pavements to "pedestrians, people with reduced mobility, children, mothers with pushchairs etc". If you have limitations it's impossible to get around. Yet they fine people who park in places and in ways they normally wouldn't do but offer no alternative parking anywhere within a kilometre or more. Not easy for motorists with reduced mobility or those with pushchairs and children, never mind pedestrians?

    Do you really think that some jobsworth, who will already be fully aware of the chaos and disruption the festival causes to pedestrians and motorists alike , should find it useful to tour the town with a pad reporting traffic violations? Whoever he was, he couldn't manage to get the location right in my case. What about the streets and pavements where pedestrian access was impossible thanks to hundreds of concrete blocks and barriers that were in place? I'm pretty sure nobody reported any concrete blocks for causing a traffic violation or nuisance to pedestrians.

    OK, my beef is with the way the council handle the event. The festival is great in many ways but it can make life difficult for many people. People still need access to the town for all sorts of reasons, by car and on foot. I would have thought easing off on handing out parking tickets for a few days during the festival would have been the wisest thing to do, especially as no alternatives were offered?

    A lot of people, no doubt normal considerate people who would never willingly park illegally, will have been fined but will have found it very difficult to access the town without breaking some sort of rule.

    For those who think I'm habitually inconsiderate and a "lazy car driver" as ventodue seems to think I am, and therefore deserve the fine, I wonder what you'd have done in this particular, one-off situation? It's OK to say "learn the lesson and pay up" which I agree would be fair comment if breaking laws is the sort of thing I'd do willy-nilly, but a bit meaningless otherwise. I'd have thought that if any lessons need to have been learned, perhaps some of them should have been learned by the council.
  12. Hi all,

    A few weeks ago my wife and I went to our local town (Aurillac) to run a small errand. We picked a bad day for it as it was the day before the town opens a 4-day festival and virtually closes off the whole of the town centre, even the car parks in the centre and all the streets around the edges of the town are closed for parking too. So, it's a nightmare if you need to go there with a car. Even if it is the day before the festival begins.

    People were having to park way out of town and you can imagine that finding a space anywhere was virtually imposible, especially so because the amount of tourists who came in for festival must have trebled the normal population. Along with many others, we had to park on a side street and actually had to mount, and park, on the pavement. There must have been twenty cars on the stretch of pavement we were on. The walk into town took us a good fifteen minutes.

    Today we had an Avis de Contravention and a 135 euro parking fine. The form states that we caused a nuisance by parking on the pavement. Apart from the fact that it seems a bit mean of the council to impose fines during the time of the festival, I can see that parking as we (and many others) did would cause problems for pedestrians, although so far out of town there were very few pedestrians anyway. Add to that the fact that on the street where we parked (and all over the town) young people, students probably, were standing around in high visability vests, presumably directing or "controlling" traffic. Two of them walked past us as we parked the car and never said a word.

    There are two things I'm not happy about concerning the Avis. Firstly, the street name stated on the form is not actually the street we parked on. It's a different street that runs parallel. The other thing is that on the form it states the term "Agent verbalisateur No. 00441410". Would this be refering to the person who actually reported the car as being illegally parked? What, or who, is an Agent verbalisateur? A policeman? A member of the public? One of those students? Can we trace this person if we wanted to? Would the fact that the street name is wrong anyway give us cause to contest the fine?

    135 euros is a lot of money considering we had little choice other than to park where we did. Why do the French do this i.e. frustrate the hell out of you sometimes. The amount of money generated by the thousands of people who were in town for the festival ought to have satisfied the council enough without having to grab money from probably hundreds of motorists, most of whom would have been locals anyway.

    I'll probably just bite my lip and pay the fine. Would you? Or would you attempt to trace Agent verbalisateur No. 00441410 and throw a brick through his windows?

    Thanks.

    Frank
  13. They now seem to have come to the conclusion that it would have been wrong to have charged my wife CSG on her UK teacher's pension according to Article 19 of the Double Taxation Treaty. Simple as that.

    They will be charging me CSG on my small private pension at the rate of 3.8% which, I believe, is correct. Why do you ask if this is the right rate?

    I'm not sure why you seem so concerned about whether or not they were surprised about NI contributions being taken at source in the UK. You'd have to ask them why they were surprised. If you were to ask me, I'd say it's probably because they are not familiar with how these things work in other countries and exactly how they should process the paperwork when a foreigner sits down in front of them with their yearly tax declaration. They don't handle many cases with foreigners (their words, not mine) in this area. That could well be true as there are very few Brits here in comparison to other areas of France, and I'm sure they go through similar issues when other foreign nationals walk through their doors too. Can't blame them for not being up-to-date with, or mis-interpreting, the rules on double taxation treaties and the other treaties and laws if they only have to deal with them very rarely (i.e. once a year with probably 0.1% of the people they see). It's not good, of course, but they do seem to panic and go for the quick-fix (for them), hoping no questions will be asked. Did someone say "That's France for you"?

    They've also always assumed in the past few years that, once we had both passed the age of 60, we were both in receipt of the UK state pension and we've had to convince them we're not. Why? We've always assumed that's because the French get their state pensions at 60 (don't knock me if that's wrong) and they were possibly thinking it was the same for both countries. CPAM assumed exactly the same thing. Why? Again, you'd have to ask them. I just think it's down to nothing more than indivual tax officers not being used to dealing with foreigners on a daily basis. How many of the thousands of foreign nationals living in any of the EU states have similar problems? We're not the first and I'm not complaining (this time). I'm just glad we managed to get things done in the way they should have been done without things getting nasty, and that we can keep our 1,150 euros.
  14. Hi Idun.

    I think you've possibly mis-understood our situation and my post.

    I didn't mean to infer we are paying NI on my wife's teacher's pension now, just that we were many years back when we lived in the UK and that I was guessing, rightly or wrongly, that may have something to do with the laws surrounding the Double Taxation Treaty. Probably has nothing to do with it at all but it seemed to confuse the advisors at our tax office!

    We've been here for 7 years and will be entitled to cover on the S1 form in a few weeks under my wife's name as she receives her UK state pension before I do. Up until now we've been covered in France by CPAM and URSSAF and top-ups (all in the usual manner).

    Why am I happy? Because this year, for the first time, the tax office they WERE about to charge us 6.6% on BOTH our pensions whereas now, only I will be paying 3.8% on my pension. My wife will now not be paying anything on her pension. This is precisely because we took advice from people on the forum and an English accountant during the past week or so. It WAS messed up and we have now sorted it out . . . saving over 1,000 euros. It will be probably be clearer to you if take a quick look at the whole post.

    Thanks

    Frank
  15. Hi all and an update.

    So, over the course of the past week we've had quite an interesting time over the CSG payments on my wife's UK teacher's pension.

    Taking the copies of Article 19 of the Double Taxation Treaty, in both French and English, we went back to the tax office to ask them again if they would check that their interrpretation of the rules was correct. This time we met with a different advisor who also said that we had to pay the tax. We left again, still not convinced because so many of you said we were not supposed to pay this charge.

    I managed to find the number of an English accountant who works in France (Brittany) and asked him if there was anything he could do. This chap was brilliant! Although he was off work on some sort of course, he replied immediately and e-mailed a letter, in French, to give to the tax office, explaining why they were wrong. The accountant said he had a raft of such letters ready to give to various French officials for similar situations such as this.

    The next morning we went back to the tax office and met both the advisors we met earlier and gave them the letter. Again, they kept saying we had to pay CSG on my wife's pension. They weren't heavy with it, but they couldn't understand how the law would otherwise work, how my wife's healthcare contributions would otherwise be covered. We did tell them, to their surprise, that in the UK we pay National Insurance contributions that go towards health care AT SOURCE and that maybe that was the reason the law stands as it is. I've no idea if that's the case (it probably isn't) but, it seemed to floor them a bit. We could see they were stumped. Anyway, we left on good terms with them asking if the accountant who gave us the letter would give them a call.

    That afternoon, we got a phone call from one of the advisors who told us that they were NOT going to charge CSG on my wife's pension and that the charge on my pension would be reduced to the mandatory 3.8% instead of the 6.6% they were going to charge us on both incomes. Brilliant news! I asked why, assuming that maybe the accountant had spoken to them. He hadn't. It just seems that they were not sure enough in the end to apply the charge. We can't blame them, they're not used to the rules and the whole thing does seem confusing if that's the case. But we're really glad we posted on this forum and had the help of the accountant. As a result, we've saved ourselves about 1,150 euros that we were not supposed to pay in the first place.

    I'm not sure if I can post the name of the accountant who helped us on the forum, but he deserves a mention (if I can pass on his contact details, I'll happily do so). If the tax office had continued to insist on applying the charge, he was ready to dispute it, telling me of the different ways that could be done, some of which would cost us nothing. He is obviously clued up and used to having similar "battles" with the French authorities. Also, happy with him because he refused to accept any sort of payment for his help.

    So, thanks for your help. It's not often we feel we've come out on top when dealing with French officialdom, but this was a good result.

    Frank
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