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Everything posted by victor

  1. Clair wrote the following post at 20/01/2013 19:18:

    To cancel your prélèvement, you must contact your bank, preferably in writing (registered post + proof of delivery) to tell them you wish to cancel the monthly prélèvement made by EDF.

    Make sure you give them the correct payment details (these should show on your statements and on your EDF paperwork) and make sure you time your letter according to the current payment schedule.

    In your letter, write that the request is "selon les articles 2003 et 2004 du code civil, qui dit qu’un mandat est révocable à tout moment." Send me a PM if you need help with this.

    The bank will not charge for a cancellation, but do not use the words stop or opposition, as these may give a green light to the bank to charge for stopping (as opposed to cancelling) the debit.

    Why a registered letter preferably to face-to-face?

    Because when EDF next tries to take money from your account, the bank may let it go through, and unless you asked someone at the bank to stamp and sign a copy of your request, you won't have proof that you asked them to stop paying, and you'll be out of pocket.

    Then call EDF on 09 69 32 15 15 (Mon to Sat 8h00 tp 21h00) and tell them you want to change your method of payment to cheque. They will probably come up with various reasons why you shouldn't, but stick to your guns as it's your right to do so.

    Then you can register online with EDF, sign up with the Relevé Confiance and pay your bills online.

    As far as payments are concerned, I pay my bills on their website with my bank card.

    And it's 6 times a year (an invoice every 2 months.)


    Thank you mille fois! I may need to contact you about the letter to the bank.

  2. gardengirl wrote the following post at 20/01/2013 19:24:

    Hope you get everything sorted out, Victor; it's a huge amount to have to pay.

    We have a prelevement for paying EDF; every June they send a full bill for the year. If we haven't paid enough during the year they would raise the monthly sum we pay, but in fact it's never gone up, and for 4 years we've had a small refund paid into our account within 2 days. It all seems very efficient. We used to read the metervery regularly, but have become a bit lax about it recently. New year's resolution maybe.


    Based on our experience, maybe you might want to check your usage and bills as advised by the responses that I have received. Our experience is not anything I would wish on anyone else!

  3. sweet 17 wrote the following post at 20/01/2013 19:03:

    NEVER pay for anything by prélèvement, if you can possibly avoid it. This doesn't, of course, apply if you are away from your house for long periods and live elsewhere as well.

    We do have a prélèvement with EDF but that was set up years ago when we had our first house and was still living in the UK. Strangely, enough, EDF were the ONLY people with whom we have had no problems, and that has included faulty readings that have been put right in our favour and having minimal amounts taken out of our account until disputes were resolved.

    Thanks to Clair's advice, I am even managing NOT to pay SFR by direct debit but by 2-monthly cheques. I certainly don't pay the water people or anyone else by DD. This was after an initial and VERY hard lesson learnt after being ripped off by France Telecom who has taken money which we will never see again.

    Also, if you are with a bank like CA (we used to be), they actually CHARGE you for cancelling a DD and do not make any attempt, unlike British banks, to get your money back from the beneficiery.

    When we had our difficulty with EDF, I sent an email and someone rang me back within 48 hours, an engineer was sent out within a week or so and money returned to us soon after that. I hope you are as lucky as we have been


    Both our EDF and SFR are by prélèvement. We do get a water bill and just write a check. So far no problem with SFR. We do, for better or worse bank at CA.

    A technician is coming from EDF on Wednesday. However, after all the help I have received from everyone and run some numbers, it sure looks like the EDF amount is correct. What I do not understand is why they would not have sent us correct bills for several years.

  4. idun wrote the following post at 20/01/2013 13:58:

    Yes, you have been able to give an internet reading for ages and always could do it over the phone, or write to them.

    You also mention electricity for heating? that can be very very expensive depending on what it is in such a very big house as yours. We had a 120m² for a family of four, so I can visualise how much bigger yours is. Do you have a wood burner? I do realise which rooms you said you heat, but in such a big house a salon can be 'big' and not appear particularly so, and take a lot of heating.


    You hit the nail on the head! Our salon which is also used to eat in when it is too cold or windy outside is 42m2. There is also a chimmy with an inset in there which we use every evening in the colder months.

    For two people, we are realizing more and more that we have too big a house and too much land.

    Thus,over two months ago, we had already decided to sell here and downsize. There comes a time in one's life when one realizes than having less is more. We are definitely at that point.

  5. Chancer,

    Since living in Poussan all bills from EDF, to my knowledge, are automatically paid by our bank. In fact, come Monday our account will be near zero after they take out the 6,000 plus sum. I examined all our bank statements going back to 2006, which is when we moved to Poussan, and each month an amount was paid to EDF. However, given our consumption, the amounts are far too low.

    From the bills I have, it appears that we generally received 4 bills a year. On the front of each bill it states whether the bill is based on consumation or is an estimate. In most years 2 bills were based on consumation and two were estimates. So it does appear that they NEVER charged us the actual amont that we should have paid. In fact, in 2010 and 2011 they sent a credit of almost 500.00 euros to our account.

    We definitely need to find out how to pay the actual amount monthly by check ourselves. Now I need to find out how.

    Chancer, thank you for your analysis.

  6. Clair,

    At this time we receive a bill about 4 times a year. However, we pay by prevlevement a certain sum every month.

    I seem to remember that for a while when we moved here from Sete that we were paying only when we received a bill. Then a French friend said it would be easier to pay the same amount each month. I naievely thought that this amount would be adjusted monthly to cover our actual usage.

    I read the website you sent. I need to sign up with EDF for this.

    Clair, once one has a monthly prelevement with the bank, is there anything one must do to stop it, With the system where one receives a bill 4 times a year, can you just write a check?

    Michal- very tired and frustrated.
  7. sid wrote the following post at 20/01/2013 10:53:

    This is difficult to understand without seeing all the bills and the meter.

    Has the meter been replaced during your period of occupation? If not, take a reading NOW and subtract the initial reading on your oldest bill (for both feeds if you have heures creuses). This will give you the total consumption for the whole term (6 years or whatever it is). You can then average out your annual consumption. Does the reading on the huge bill agree with the reading on the meter?

    If the meter has been replaced you should have received an official form with the date of the replacement work and showing the old and new readings (usually zero for the new one).

    As Idun has said, I always check my meters after they've been read, and on receipt of a bill. The water meter has been misread twice. The electricity is read by a transponder device, so any error is likely to be in the accounting system somewhere.


    To my knowledge, the meter has not been replaced.

    I have taken readings for several days now and will do as you recommended. This is a great idea!

    I thought, apparently wrongly, that electric bills had to be paid by prelevment.

    I would prefer to read the meter myself and send it to EDF, and upon receipt of a bill, write a check to them. That way, I should always be aware of our usage.

    Thanks Sid

  8. Idun,

    In the chart I sent, I added the two readings together. If we received a bill for 2010, I have not found it.The estimated bill for 2011 should have raised a red flag. As I said to Norman, I probably opened it, glanced at it, then filed it. Certainly a dumb thing to do. The 6,000 plus bill we received this past week covers July 2, 2010 through December 12, 2012.

    Idun you asked "And as you have all those electrical things, is your fixed charge expensive??"

    We live here full time: Every French person I know has a frig, a clothes washer, washing machine, TV, computer. I would prefer gas heat but the line is not near our house. The pool pump is run a few hours a day in the warm months. We have never heated our bedrooms or foyer and if the sun is out we do not begin to heat the house until there is no sun.

    The Abonnement on the latest bill we received is 17.39 euros a month. The taxes on the bill are over 1,000 euros.

    We have been stupid and whether the bill is correct or incorrect, we will be reading our meter every month and every time we receive a bill actual or estimated.

    It appears that one can now send EDF the meter reading by computer. I am checking this out.

    We appreciate your comments and we definitely will be reading the meter.

    Thanks Idun.


  9. Norman H,

    According to my analysis, there was only the period from December 29, 2010 to December 28, 2011 for which we received an estimated bill. How can they just estimate usage for an entire year? And, why have I not been reading the meter? Spread sheet design ahead.......UGH!

    Given that the bill was so small, I should have contacted EDF immediately. Stupidly, I probably just glanced at it and put it in the file.

    I agree with you that our usage should probably be around 10,000-11,000 kwh per year.

    Maybe they are catching up on the previous estimated reading. I will on Sunday do another chart. This is driving me crazy trying to sort out the dates and amounts! Norman, if you are right, I will actually feel better about this whole thing. Thank you!

  10. Wolybanana,

    I would be very interested in what the problem was. Just maybe the same problem occurred for us.

    Thank you.

  11. Quillan,

    As stated in my message, the meter is directly outside our entrance, and the meter reader always has free access to the meter. So the answer is that they do not have to come inside the property.

  12. Guardian,

    I did do one chart with the HC and HP and kw and cost for each. It took me hours to wade through. However, I really need to do a cleaner chart thus Sunday I will do it and post it.


  13. Last week we received a bill from EDF for 6,482.36 euros. After recovering from shock, I studied the bill. I also pulled all our bills that I could find since 2006.

    We are 2 retired persons living near Sete in a house of 185M2 and use three phase electricity for heating, laundry, dishwasher, TV, telephone, frig, pool pump, computer, and hot water heater. We only use the clothes and dishwasher during heures creuses. We have always tried to be very careful with our utility usage. We do not use a clothes dryer.

    The only rooms we have ever used the heat in are the salon, my study, shower room, and small WC. We have never used the heat in the kitchen, the foyer, or our two bedrooms.

    Billing history: A=actual E=estimate

    A May 2007 to Dec 12 2007 = 9,417 kw

    A Dec 29 2008 to Oct 30 2009 = 6192 kw

    A Oct 31 2009 to Dec 28 2009 = 244kw

    E Dec 29 2010 to Dec 28 2011 =955kw

    A July 2 2010 to July 2 2012 =58,871kw

    A July 3 2012 to Dec 12 2012 = 6,272

    The last two above "A" bills were in the bill we received this last week.

    We never paid much attention to the bills as they did not seem excessive. The first thing I find VERY weird is that we did not receive an Actual bill for the period from December 29, 2010 through December 28, 2011. The second weird thing is we then last week we received a bill for the period July 2, 2010 through December 12, 2012. Third weird thing is that the bill received last week indicates that it is based on an actual reading.

    Our meter is outside our entry gate thus the meter readers always had access. Does anyone have any

    explination has to what could have happen?

    I have spoken with EDF and someone is coming out next week to check the meter. However, the problem seems to have occurred sometime between 2010 and December 2011.

    Can meters be hacked into? Could our meter have been replaced and the wrong data entered? Any advice would be very much appreciated.

  14. Trainman wrote:

    "We are moving to France from the US early next summer. Can anyone help with the Visa process? I think we have all the necessary forms but would like some help confirming this.

    Anyone out there who has moved from the US and has a detailed list of required forms, we would greatly appreciate the help."

    I doubt anyone here could answer your question as the answer would depend on your specific situation. Just for starters: type of visa you would be applying for.

    Therefore, your first step should be a visit to the French Embassy nearest you to obtain a list of documents necessary to apply for a long stay visa. One of the requirements may be that you will need to have an address in France. Furthermore all documents may need to have been "officially" translated into French.

    Be prepared that you may end up making several visits to the embassy, and you need to remember to, no matter what, always be polite. For your first visit, you will need to have made an appointment.

    Regarding health care: the only US company of which I am aware that has world-wide medical coverage is Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Once in France you can obtain medical insurance from a French company but generally need to show your American health contract which indicates prior coverage for a year and a month. This may vary from one company to another. If and when you are eligible to obtain the French government health insurance, you will be required to pay around 8% of your income as declared on your French tax form.

    Speaking of taxes: Each year you MUST file both a French tax form and an American tax form.

    However, because of the treaty between France and the US, you only pay the American taxes assuming you receive no income from France. I strongly recommend you obtain a copy of the treaty and study it.

    Regarding driving: there are approxmately 12 states which have a receprocity agreement with France and if you are not a resident of one of those states, perhaps you could plan to visit with a friend in one of the states and attempt to exchange your license for one from that state. Some states Motor Vehicle offices are more "friendly" than others.

    Bottom line: you must be able to prove that you can support yourself here. The amount necessary seems to vary a bit.

    You did not state what your profession is but several possibilities come to mind to smooth things a little: if you are working for a French company or an International organization in the States and can request a transfer, or you have sufficient funds to invest in establishing a company in France which would employ French workers, or you have been accepted to study in France, or you have a profession that France would consider valuable.

    For Americans the process is LONG and not simple.

  15. Pickles,

    Well now that certainly clarifies things.

    Cour marry her and voila! You will have your US passport.

  16. Coeur de Lion,

    I agree that you should keep as many doors open as possile thus, if you can get your US passport do so. Never hurts to be a duel citizen!

    It is true that each state has its own laws in the US, however, the country controls immigration law not the states per se. The rule, in general, is that what is not controled by the federal government, is left to the states to decide. Immigration law is controlled by the federal goverment.

    For example, a driver's license is controlled by each individual state. Each state has different rules. If you move from one state to another you may just be able to exchange your old license for the new state. However, in some states, you may need to take a test.

  17. Sprogster,

    Your point is right on. There is a great difference between being retired and working. Even if I wanted to continue my profession here, I am, by law, forbidden from doing so.

    Instead, I started searching out people who wanted to learn English (I was a professor of English prior to becoming an attorney) in exchange for helping me with French. I made many friends that way.

    No question, finding work in France is difficult at best, but from everything I know, it is also almost impossible now in the States. I have to say that I would not want to be in a position where I needed to find a paying job. I am very concerned for the young people in Europe and the States. I fear things will only get worse for them unless they are well connected or from rich families.

  18. WJT wrote: "Congratulations Victor well done! I am one of those referred to that couldn't pass so lots of admiration from me."

    I am so sorry that you did not pass. I am sure that next year when you renew your Carte, you will be able to pass with flying colors!

    WJT: "Out of interest whereabouts in America are you moving from and whereabouts in France are you moving to?"

    We moved here in 2001 from Washington, DC (a couple weeks prior to 9/11) and had been making plans for about eight years prior to our move including having our son attend a French lycee in DC. We also visited France about three times a year and sent our son to camps in France each summer. (Look at my post dated 8/8/2009)

    Believe me, even as prepared as I thought we were, we have made mistakes. A major mistake was moving to Sete and then to Poussan.

    I hate this village: for example, getting any permissions to make changes to your land depends on the whim of the mayor. Not a fun situation. We have been fortunate, however, to have found many friends here in the South, both in Sete and Poussan.

    Where are you from and where are you located now. If there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know.


  19. JUST CURIOUS but why would you choose the US over France?

    I cannot imagine ever leaving France. When I drawup a list of pros and cons, France always wins.

  20. A major problem is that the rules keep changing and one must "somehow" always stay alert to this problem.

    I guess the next step is to have both or one of us apply for citzenship. Unfortunately, both our sets of parents are long dead and my mother came from a place where she had no birth certificate on record.

    However, France is our dream and remains so. I know it must seem quite strange to those who believe that the U.S. is golden.

  21. Finally my husband and I received our Carte de Resident for ten years!!!!!!!!!! We filed our renewal papers with the Marie and sent a copy of our required letter stating why we wanted to have the ten year Carte to the Prefecture just in case.

    After about three months, we received a convocation to go to the Prefecture where we were individually interviewed. The interview was conducted entirely in French and included knowledge of our spoken and written French, knowledge of French law and history.

  22. Joerger,

    I have great hopes for Obama.  We lived in D.C. for over 20 years, and I know of some of the players and believe that this administration will have excellent relations with the French.  Things are looking up slightly in the States, but I am not so optimistic to believe that the problems will be over quickly.  If health care gets through, hopefully with some of the qualities seen in the French system, then perhaps the other issues will begin to be positively addressed also, and Obama will be able to mend fences with Europe. 

    I am sure that you know that for citizens of other countries moving to the States, it has never been easy.  I am not sure of when the immigration laws changed whereby each country was given quotas on just how many green cards were issued; however, that system has been in place for many years.

    Until Bush and 9/11 many foreign students stayed and became citizens after finishing their degrees.  I also know may French people who after working in the States a few years, requested and received green cards.  And, their children born there were automatically American citizens.

    Sorry I got off tract a bit.  I think that my family is incredibily lucky to have the opportunity and the resources to be able to live in France.  Hopefully we will be able to resove our problems,and I can forget about ever having to board another plane! (And have my son marry a wonderful French woman!)  BTW, we have two beautiful standard Poodles who have advised  me that they refuse to leave a country that absolutely adores them and even lets them freely visit cafes and well just almost everywhere.

  23. Lori,

    The head of the etranger in Sete advised us to write a letter for a 10 year Carte, which I did. We were, however, never asked to fill out a form for that purpose. We received a letter back saying my husband would get the 10 year Visa and that I would get the 5 year visa.  Then when they arrived, we had the same one year Visitor Carte.  The man tried talking to the Prefecture to no avail.  The same thing happen when he tried to get my son a student visa so he could work during vacations.  He finally suceeded, but it took hin 2 years to convince them.

    I must confess that I did not go in person to tht Prefecture to pursue our Carte.  I was just so depressed, plus we were having a horrible problem with our neighbor below.  When we first decided to move to Sete my husband went to France and just bought an older large apartment in a building containing only two apartments and did not check ANYTHING.  That nightmare cost us a LOT of attorney expenses even though she ultimately lost. ( In my prior life, I was a trial attorney so I was not easily intimidated by the things she tried to do.)  However, dealing with the French buracracy makes me shutter.

  24. Daniela,

    There are 10 or so States in the US which have reciprocity with France regarding driver's licenses.

    Americans who have been issued a valid driver’s license from Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Florida or South Carolina, (or an EEC/European Union license), may exchange their license for a French one without passing a test, but only within the first year after the official date of entry into France. You may still retain your US driver’s license upon request.  http://www.americansintoulouse.com

    The International permit is worthless.

  25. 5-element,

    I appreciate your suggestion and have read over the site.  Clearly, many of their positions are in line with my own regarding Bush and his war and the fact that so many innocent people were injured or killed and are still in harms way.

    I guess my feeling is that the group has more urgent issues than the one we are facing.  I would not feel comfortable contacting them regarding my problems.

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