The first of this year's red cards goes to France Telecom for its tactics during the summer period. The incumbant has had to face pressure from the alternative operators in its historical area of land line telephone services. This summer, it sent out its bi-monthly bills to customers in early August as usual. But what has changed this year is the length of time it gave its customers to cough up. It was shortened to just ten days, running from the date at the top of the invoice. Taking postal delays into account, this is barely more than a week. Significantly, the final date falls just before the 15 August holiday week-end. So, as well as hitting the French who take the month of August for their annual vacation, it also hits the significant number that takes the month from the 14 July national holiday to 15 August. This year August 15 fell on a Saturday, so many people came back at the end of the week-end.
For many years France Telecom has been issuing its bills in early August, reasoning officially that the way the dates fall is a matter of luck and people should take that into account when going away. But the way the company has shortened the deadline for paying the bill this year is really suspicious. Anyone would think they are deliberately trying to catch people out. Surely not!