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Everything posted by Andyphilpott

  1. The other advice holds good, but I detect that you are wary of not using spacers. Tilers would not use these but lay them by eye. I am no expert, but I would lay each line against a straight edge such as a straight piece of timber so that each line of tiles was parallel. The spaces will differ according to the 'waviness' of the edge but that is part of the attraction of rustic tiles. When you get to the next row, but the tiles against the straight edge which you will have moved to its new location (not against the previous row of tiles) and avoid touching the previous row so that you do not disturb them. Once you grout them in they will look fine. Hope this helps. By the way, if the tiles are as hard as the ones I recently laid, it will definitely be worth investing in an electric tile cutter (which I did not and have the blisters to prove it!) Andy
  2. The demise of the POC and Points Plus is a pity but Eurotunnel are a commercial organisation and if they believe they will make more by dropping the schemes that is what they will do. After all their raison d'etre is to make money with the services they provide only to achieve that end. They are in desperate trouble with insufficient income to meet interest payments on the debt. This shows the folly of such major projects being carried out by commercial enterprises rather than Government, but I have no doubt at all that if the French and English Governments had carried out the project the cost over run would have been even greater. Latest reports seem to indicate that they will increase their focus on freight services to the detriment to passenger travel so we can expect further deterioration in service. I have used them fairly often but have never really been a fan. I believe that their attitude towards private travellers has been apalling for many years. Their insistence that you should travel only on the booked shuttle or pay a surcharge (although to be fair the staff often do not impose that) but refuse to compensate a like sum when they do not run that shuttle is quite unreasonable. They make it as difficult as possible to actually speak to someone, and even when you do eventually get through to them it is on an 0870 number. That means if you complain you are paying them to do so since they earn income from the 0870 number. One other point. For the Points Plus service an annual fee had to be paid. Not much I accept, but has anyone seen anything about a refund for the unused term. No, of course not. At the end of the day all we poor passengers can do is to stop travelling with them, and if that cannot be avoided, then at least refuse to shop at the terminal where they make a good part of their profits. I will probably travel by air more often now as the extra cost of using the Shuttle (forgoing the occasional free trip with Points) means that it is as economic for me to fly and hire a car rather than drive down to Provence. Otherwise, it's back to the ferries for me. I know they cost as much and take longer, but I have had enough of Eurotunnel and it will be a pleasure NOT having to do business with them. Andy
  3. Just seen on the Var Village Voice that GB Airways will no longer fly to Toulon from end October as they don't make enough on the route. Since Toulon is only 40 minutes from home that is regretable to say the least. Hopefully someone else will take over the route - in my dreams I see eujet taking it on!!!!!!!!!!! Oh well - back to Nice or Marseille! Andy Philpott
  4. This was the first I had heard of an exit bonus! There is not one on my Points Plus Account as of today so does anyone know on what basis the bonus points have been allocated? Andy
  5. Last year we set up to pay both Taxe d'Habitation and Taxe Fonciere by Direct Debit and it was quite straightforward using the web site. We too had papers sent to us by post which had to go back with a RIB but it all worked fine and now it is set up it will continue to apply each year (just had confirmation that this year's T d'H is being collected this way) so no need to bother with going through the process each year. So long as you keep the Bank account topped up there should be no problems at all. Andy
  6. Stuart - I have never been comfortable using Moneybookers for significant amounts and have always used Currencies Direct for this as over the past 4 years they have provided a consistently good service and (in theory at least) the money they hold for me remains mine until they remit it to CA. With Moneybookers, they make it clear on their web site that if they were to fail then I would be a creditor of the business with no greater rights to my money (which would then be part of their assets) than any other creditor. There is a get out on that for transfers under £1,000 where you can 'tick a box' to say that you do not accept that basis, but you cannot do so for sums greater than that. Whether the get out would be effective against a Liquidator I do not know - at best there would be delays in getting hold of your own money whilst they considered their position. There is, of course, no indication at all that they are in any financial trouble which would give rise to this; you would never know until it was too late anyway. However, given the poor service and absence of decent customer care to make me feel 'good' about using them, why take any risks at all? I would say that if it is urgent and significant in amount then use other money brokers such as Currencies Direct, for non-urgent small amounts use Moneybookers but tick the box! Russethouse - what is a Paypal account - I have not spotted that in the Moneybookers web site? Is it something completely different and who runs it? Moneybookers do allow you to pay funds to them by debit/credit card, but there is an additional fee to pay and I believe there is a relatively low limit too. I have not used that service so cannoy speak with any authority on it. Andy
  7. The worldwide currencies service seems to be similar to many others, such as Currencies Direct who I have successfully used in the past. The downside with all these is the UK charges (£15 for transfers under £15k) and the charges of Credit Ag for receiving the payments. Moneybookers scores much better of these points and I have to say that I always find their exchange rates very good. It is just the very poor customer service, the telephone charges to complain, and the slowness of the transfers which irritate me. On balance I will probably send larger sums over to CA using Currencies Direct in future as if Moneybookers are in such an appparent mess as evidenced by the problems which many of us seem to experience, in my experience the survival period of the business should not be overestimated.   Andy Philpott (83)
  8. So far, I have had no charges for cash withdrawals from the machine in our village although it is not, strictly speaking, a CA machine. It is actually located in the outer wall of the Post Office and has been financed by the Regional Authority and the (2) financial institutions in the village, including CA so it is available to all users. Not sure if someone with a card from a bank which did not contribute will pay. However with the way French banks charge whenever they can, nothing will surprise me any more. Just stand up to them! Andy (83)
  9. CA always charged to receive funds electronically or otherwise and the only exception has been when I use the Moneybookers service where there has never been a charge. I think Moneybookers take advantage of a Government sponsored system which precludes charges. As regards the internet service, if you mean the En Ligne service at CA I have found it very useful to keep track of my account, but I only use it for viewing the account and not for the other services which they can provide as I really do not need these. The basic service is free but they will always try to sell you the souped up version if you do not stand your ground. I have always had good service from CA although now we have a cash dispenser in the village (funded by the Post Office, CA and the Regional Government for some reason!) I really have little need to actually go into the branch. Security has been stepped up though. It used to be a case of just press the button and walk in the door, but now it has been jazzed up with a fetching blue facade and lockers into which you must put any metal objects before you squeeze into a large cylinder before they let you in. Not sure how the guy with the tin leg manages it. Andy
  10. I was hopeful, but no longer. It took nearly a week to get funds uploaded to them - they had it in their system but said my Bank (Halifax) failed to quote the reference. I do not believe that as I set it up myself, but asked for a copy of the remittance advice from Halifax. No reply for them so draw your own conclusions. Once they had sorted that out I sent the funds to Credit Ag and a week on they have still not arrived. They ignore e mails, charge too much for phone calls to them to complain and have doubled the charge to send funds to France to Euro 3.50 (although that is still cheap. I think I will revert to Currencies Direct who, although more expensive for the transfers, give a good rate and an efficient service. Incidentally I too have suggested they look at the LF Forum to see the damage they are doing to their reputation, but if they have looked they do not seem to care. A real shame as they were initially very good. Hopefully the funds will arrive before I head to Provence next week! Andy Philpott
  11. I am with Credit Ag in PACA and the only charge I have is for the debit cards - 1 at full price and 1 at half price. They have often tried to make extra charges but a stroppy letter usually sets them straight, even with my limited command of the language. Last time it was a small charge for an enhanced version of their on line banking which I did not need (the basic version is free) and although it took a couple of months to sort it out they did refuned the previous charges. The trouble is they don't ask you if you would like a service, they just provide it regardless and charge until you tell them to drop it. More recently we had a problem getting our new debit cards which expired at the end of August as they were insisting on us collecting them - I did not feel it was worth a 1500 mile round trip! I understand that they only hold them for a limited time and if not collected they are destroyed so I did not want that to happen. A friend from the village dropped into the bank and explained the position and they arrived at home in the UK 2 days later by recorded delivery! And they made no charge for that. Andy
  12. Don't suppose you have a note of that number? Or details of the FSA website?   Andy
  13. Thanks for that - it has been nearly 4 years since I bought and I only ever had the bound details mentioned elsewhere. The history of owners did not go back all that far either but I note from what you say that this is probably OK. I am sure it will work itself out! Andy
  14. I too had a bound copy of the contract, but understood the deeds are held by the notaire. But what happens if I decide to sell and use a different notaire? Would the new one retrieve the deeds from the previous one? What if the previous notaire retires or just stops trading for some other reason? Andy
  15. Having now checked the number is 0709 so best ignore what I said originally! Good spot.   Andy
  16. Re the comments about expensive phone calls, I always use the number they provide for if you are calling from overseas - adjusted of course for a call from the UK by leavinmg off the country code and adiding 0. That is at standard rates rather than the expensive rates incurred using the number they give. More information on how to avoid 090 and 0870 numbers is available via an excellent and free web site I often use http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/ which provides practical advice on ways to save money, although not specifically related to France.   Andy Philpott 
  17. I think there is now room for cautious optimism! I sent funds to Moneybookers from Halifax and as I could not see them in my Moneybookers account in 4 days I called them. Very helpful staff who took details and called back within 30 minutes to advise a glitch their end which they corrected immediately. Then sent the funds to my Credit Ag account and they arrived in just 3 days. Seems to be back to normal, but only time will tell if the service is consistent. I shall be sending more soon and will let you know if there are problems.
  18. I have had an account with CA for 4 years now - opened 6 months before I bought my property and it helped that I was introduced (and accompanied) by an existing customer of the branch who was also able to help with translation when it got too technical for my French. The only problem I have had is their propensity to make charges for everything they can. Unlike UK Banks, CA will introduce a new service and assume that you want it unless you opt out. Then they charge for it and it is not easy to get them to refund. Case in point is their on line service (which is good) where they introduced a souped up version giving access to services which I will never use. All the papers indicated that the service would remain gratuit, but lo and behold a fee of Euros 3 per month started. Not much I know, but it is the principle. Stroppy letter later and the fees were cancelled and refunded. I have always found CA helpful if a bit archaic compared to UK Banks. Local knowledge does, I think, help the relationship. I dislike having to pay for a debit card which could, like UK bank cards, last for a couple of years or so, but which they renew annually to get their fee and then expect you to collect it from the branch. However that is the only charge I now pay, and they charge half price for the second card in my wife's name. Andy
  19. See my reply re Moneybookers Not sure they will do a direct debit but once you have registered your UK and French Bank accounts it is quick and easy to make your transfers.
  20. I have just started using Moneybookers and found them absolutely fine. Excellent rates and cheap cost and NO charges by CA for receiving the money. Amazing! I am a lifelong sceptic re Banks (I used to work for one!) and usually where a service seems too good to be true then it probably is. Not so with Moneybookers. It does take time to upload and then withdraw to the French Bank account and during that time you are at theoretical risk since if Moneybookers were to go bust in that period you could lose all your money. That is what they are obliged to say in their T&C. In fact I understand that they maintain their balances in liquid funds so unless they are spending more than they are earning they should remain solvent. I must confess that I only use them for a couple of thou at a time and would rather use an entirely safe source for larger amounts (such as for house purchase) but have found Currencies Direct good for that. Such caution may well be unwarranted. Bottom line is, not as safe as a Bank but better value by a very long way. The system is easy to use once you have registered with them and set up your accounts. I thought that it was a very smart move for them to send a dummy transfer to my CA account (just a few cents) to make sure it all worked OK - I believe that also has something to do with checking the account(s) for money laundering purposes (or maybe that should be anti - money laundering!) The last time I sent money it took 4 days to upload and around 3 to withdraw into my CA account, and as the transfers actually can happen instantaneously they (or my Bank) have the use of the funds for a few days. That is how they make their money and I do not begrudge them that. Andy Philpott (83)
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