Why Do I Have to Prendre un Rendez-vous?

When I opened my bank account in France, an employee at the bank sat down with me to ask me some questions about myself, take my documents, and open my account. Standard enough. What’s different from the States is that this person became my conseiller, or account advisor, and he remains my contact at the bank. I have his professional email address.

Last year he left me a voicemail to prendre un rendez-vous, or make an appointment. It was so unexpected that I didn’t even realize it was him when I heard the message. Why would he ask to have a meeting when I didn’t even contact him?

At the time I expressed my surprise to a friend who has been living in France for decades. He responded that it was normal to have a relationship with your account advisor. He meets with his every year. Well, that astonished me. After asking around, I concluded that not everyone in France does this, but it is not shocking if you do, either.

I accepted the meeting out of curiosity. Basically my conseiller asked me information to update my account, such as my address, job status, income, and how I pay for expenses: things that Americans consider none of their business as long as we have money in our account and are reliable customers. I accept cultural differences and found the whole experience interesting, though next time I’d probably decline the unnecessary appointment.

Recently I changed my account to a very similar type of account. I called my bank branch to ask them to do this, and they of course asked me to prendre un rendez-vous with my account advisor. So I scheduled a phone appointment with him for during my lunch break on a day that we were both available, and we made the change.

After speaking with him, I realized that I wanted to remove one of the services of my account and also inquire about the cost of another basic feature. I emailed him these requests. A couple of days later, he responded that we had to prendre un rendez-vous to make the change. He also did not answer my question, most likely because he figured that we could discuss it during our meeting. He asked me when I would be available after April 1st, meaning the earliest I could have an appointment was almost two weeks after I sent my email.

The change that I requested and the question that I asked could easily be handled over a brief email exchange. By the time I get home from work, my bank branch is closed, so the only day I can go in for a meeting is Saturday, when everyone else who works during the week makes their appointments. Not to mention that I’d rather spend my Saturday in the park, with a friend, cooking, or doing anything other than meeting my account advisor to “discuss” something that could be done in two minutes over the phone or email.

Let me explain that I am not rolling in dough. I do not have a special bank account. I am a small fry. Judging from my basic account, it should be obvious to my account advisor that while I am a consistent client, I am not going to opt for any extra services he touts. So why does he insist that I prendre un rendez-vous every time I have a little question? He is cute, but it isn’t enough.

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8 thoughts on “Why Do I Have to Prendre un Rendez-vous?

  1. I’ve only had one random “rendez-vous” in the 4 years I’ve had my account, but I’ve changed regions a few times so maybe they counted those in. I think it’s mostly an excuse to try to sell insurance, but like you I was a bit surprised about some of the questions regarding managing my budget and so on. In one sense, it can be helpful advice and I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who aren’t getting it from anyone else, on the other hand, I’m never in the red, so like you I think it’s none of their business really.

    • During my appointment last year, my conseiller didn’t give me any advice, he just asked me questions.

      The funny thing is that the problem in the States is that banking (and services in general) are often very impersonal. You call the bank, have to go through automated prompts, and then speak with someone who lives in another state or even another country. So I appreciate the personal touch here to a certain extent, but they’re way too insistent on withholding answers to my questions so that I will make a face-to-face appointment.

  2. Just wanted to say that my conseiller called me for an appointment a few years ago. When I went to the appointment I discovered that my bank wanted to raise my fees. They haven’t called since and I hope they will never call again!

    Just a side note: why is it called a conseiller and not a conseilleur? That’s a bit strange that the noun is the same as the verb.

    • Gee, they made you come in to tell you that?

      I had never heard of the word conseilleur, but I looked it up and it seems it’s not used anymore. It would be a good word for advisor, though. That made me think about how a lot of words in English function as verbs and nouns, like read, run, and swim.

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