(asked by Samayi C. from Canada)

Why don’t French pay phones take coins? Such a pain!

You mean French pay phones still exist?

OK, the reason is pretty simple. French pay phones used to take coins, but they were:

-unpractical : you always needed to add coins during your conversation, which would be cut if you didn’t do it fast enough (remember that local calls are not “free” in France).

-always vandalized : in the late 70′s, early 80′s it had become a habit for burglars, gangsters and other ruffians to pillage pay phones for easy cash, and this had become a quite lucrative business as in some cities or neighborhoods it became next to impossible to find a working pay phone, I don’t exaggerate.

So, shortly after the card with integrated microchip was invented by Roland Moreno, it was decided that pay phones with coins would be put out of business and be replaced by phones that work with a prepaid card.

Those phone cards were called “Télécartes” and they were a huge success, became ubiquitous, as well as support for advertising, public announcements and campaigns; people collected them, with a trading market and all.

But one day, cell phones came along…

Cards with integrated microchip have stayed a huge success but for other uses: ATM cards (every single bank card in France has had an integrated microchip for about two decades), National Health cards (“Carte Vitale”), etc.

And sure, it was not always a convenient thing for foreigners, but during they heydays, every guide to France would mention the need to get a prepaid phone card when you arrive (you could find them pretty much everywhere)… Nowadays, I guess it must not always be fun for foreign tourists.

pixel Why Dont French Pay Phones Take Coins?

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