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Comment Re: Um... good for whom in the US? (Score 1) 111

Off topic, but I was under the impression that, in many European countries, tipping is a practice reserved for exceptional service, and it's been like that for a long time. I thought it was mainly the U.S. where tipping less than 15% is basically an insult.

In France yes, but tipping is still important in Britain, Ireland, Germany at least, probably other countries.

Comment This might just be bad news. (Score 3, Insightful) 111

Another French here. I don't think the higher prices that we paid before Free appeared were so good for investments. On the contrary: since Free appeared, Orange and the 2 other providers pushed and marketed heavily the "4G" (LTE), that Free does not offer. They had to compete on quality because they could not cope with the price. In 2005 (Free was not a mobile provider yet) they were together sentenced to 535 million euros due to an unlawful agreement. The market forces did not apply anymore, a big problem on the long term. We did not destroy the France Telecom monopoly in order to have a private oligopoly. Private firms will not invest on hardware if they can avoid it. Either they do it to provide better product or service (and the price will be higher), or they are forced by law.

Comment Re: Um... good for whom in the US? (Score 3, Informative) 111

French Free customer here.

The expectation is that the advertised price is the price that you will pay, right, and that's usually the case. But "advertised" means sometimes that the subscrition is N euros, and it is not clear (or in very small letters) that the compulsory routeur is M euros, and other options are X eurs, or that the price will double after 6 months, and so on. Our main provider (Orange, formerly France Telecom) and the others are very fond of this game. But Free does not, the 20 euros is really all included, no surprise.

As for tipping, it still exists in France, on a smaller scale. I often let 1 euro on the table if I'm pleased by the service.

Comment Frenchie here (Score 1) 386

I don't understand why most people should pay for a software for income tax, or any income at all by the way. Richest people with many sources of income or independent workers who are a firm as well as a person may need some consulting, but this is service, not software.

As a French, I'll do this in the next weeks:

Go to the website of government where I can pay all my taxes.

Enter my credentials (I got them my snail mail years ago).

Answer a few basic questions about marital status, address, spouse, age and number of children (very quick, the Fisc (our IRS) know everything and it has not changed).

All incomes from the family (employers, stocks...) are already known and pre-filled. I just have to check that it is in sync with all the summary papers that my employer or my banks have sent me these last weeks ("you must declare XX € in field XY, and YY € in field YZ"). If I want to check, I'll have to make some additions (hard!). I don't remember many mistakes since all this is already filled.

Tax deductions have their own fields. I must sum the numbers from the papers sent from by charities. The nanny for my daughter is already subsidized, so they know how much I've paid and can deduct.

The biggest challenge was tax deduction for the heating system and some insulation in the house. The problem is knowing if and how I'm allowed to deduct these expenses, not computing them. If I think that the 10% default for professional expenses is not enough, I can count all kilometers to work and a few other things. You need Excel to track all this, not more.

At the end the website tells me how much I'll have to pay, or how much I'll get back. If I want to calculate myself, the rules are simple enough that Excel should suffice. My grand father, whose situation was much more complicated, did all of this himself without computer.

So, French administration is on this rather simple and effective. Well, 500 years ago, foreign ambassadors were stunned by the efficiency of our tax system :-) Paid amounts, other taxes, and the way they are spent are other topics...

I see comments from Switzerland or Finland telling this is not more complicated there. I read German newspapers and every year the tax sofware is a hot topic - but these people never knew how to make things simple (not a surprise that SAP was born there but I digress) (said as Germand-friendly Frenchie).

Comment Re:Want some fun ? (Score 1) 892

I resigned in 2006 and was forced to stay 3 months in a boring job (coding ABAP on SAP R/3) while my new boss was waiting for me. My future ex-employer did not really try to find my replacement before the end of the second month. It's difficult to "negociate" a shorter préavis while being professionnal (it's a small world). Just going away without reason could cost you 3 months salary IIRC.

On the other side, a French firm cannot fire you at will, it's much much more complicated (Americans never understand it, and I partly agree).

That's a pain in the neck while searching for a job or an employee, because nowadays most jobs are to be filled NOW, not 3 months later, and in the current job market nobody would resign without the next job signed.

Comment France (Score 1) 613

Here is France, tax fillings are pre-filled for at least two years.

Each administration, bank or firm sends you a paper each year telling you how much you earn from them and how much you must declare to our IRS. I've seen tiny errors in complicated situations, nothing to complain about. Having a centralized state has some good sides.

I must only add things that the administration cannot know (charities, deductible professional expenses, tax credit for energy savings...). Of course it's all online for years (and it works rather well).

It helps that we do not need software to compute all this for us, I don't know anyone on salary who uses one. It seems to be a hot topic in Germany though but they always over-engineer everything.

Comment Re:Knowing how PC the US is these days... (Score 2, Insightful) 964

(Warning: braod and probably abusive generalization below.)

It's always funny to see such photos on American products or ads in my part of Europe.

I remember the photo on the packaging of a computer mouse for children (from MS?): a boy with blue eyes and fair hair (in the center), a Chinese-looking girl, a black boy. This is an American mix, not a European one.

To be PC in the West-European market, you have to add an Arab- or Turkish-looking child. In France the typical hair is darker than in the States and blue eyes not very common, so the fair hair boy looks like one of our Dutch tourists. Our proportion of Asian people is low outside of Paris, and they are more Vietnamese than Chinese.

It depends heavily on the country (I suppose that you could say between the states inside the US.)
You cannot be PC and have the same photo for all countries. Unless that you want to appear like a soul-less company with American-style management.

BTW, the white person in many of such photos is always in the best position: on the mouse packaging, the boy was in the middle; in a recent ad for Visual Studio, the white young man is on the front and a Chinese-looking girl in the background; and in the photo from the article, the white woman is the only one active (she seems to be the boss). Neither do I see fat or disabled persons.

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