How we have been treated in Paris on 30th May by the Parisian metro/bus inspectors. We are still in a state of a shock and disbelief that your officials behaved in most horrendous way towards us.
We would like to take this opportunity and make a statement of our awful experience and a horrid way we were treated.
This was supposed to be a very special trip to Paris that we eagerly looked forward to. Myself, my sister and another friend, all Swedish citizens, explored beautiful city and we took public transport - both bus and metro.
We bought tickets at the vending machine like everyone else however on three occasions, tickets did not work when we were going into the subway otherwise the door can not be opened if the ticket does not work. When that happened, we seek help from staff working there, and our tickets were exchanged for new ones. The explanation of the staff was that it is common that this happens and that tickets do not go through even if they were unused.
On May 30, we took the bus instead of the Metro.
Bus drove past the stop and when we waved it stopped. The door closed and the bus continued its journey. Of the 3 tickets, only one worked and when we realised this we quickly consulted each other and what to do, we agreed to get off the bus to get ticket sorted. One of my friend also suggested we buy tickets with our phone as we were on schedule to the airport to fly back home, we thought of that as a second option. This lasted less than a minute, we wanted to get off the bus when a woman approached us, we thought she was going to help us, she guided us towards the machine, not letting us get off the bus. At this point we sincerely thought she was helping and then she started yelling at us. We were in utter state of a shock and had no idea what was happening, other two males joined this aggressive and threatening interrogation. They never introduced themselves as officials, never showed their badges, but we figured out it was something to do with the tickets. We tried to reason with them and understand what was going on and what we did wrong as we were treated as criminals. By now we heard that we need to pay 35Euros fine, they were asking for our passports, continuously threatening and yelling at us, telling us to stop talking to them. In fact, they increased fine from 35Euros to 50 Euros and few moments later to 100Euros because we were asking too many questions. They said their English was bad, we tried to use google translate but they wouldn’t have any of it, they were irrational and not prepared to have any conversation with us. Meanwhile they had our passports and we said that we want police to come. They kept yelling “stop talking” showing us palm of their hand in front of our face. We managed to understand that the woman said only French people can buy ticket with phone which sounded rather discriminatory. This went on for nearly half an hour.
We had no opportunity to return ( go out from buss) and did not get the woman who was dressed in civilian clothes. In the bus there is a picture that you can buy a bus ticket via text message. But we did not get that from the woman either.
A woman in civilian clothes came forward and looked like she wanted to help us.
When it did not work out, we said we wanted to go out and check our tickets at Metro.
But we did not get that from her. Although it took 2 min? We also said that we want to buy tickets then via text message because we did it before a few days ago. No wonder. We did not get that either.
The girl said we can not buy tickets via text message because we are not French citizens which was rather strange. The poster in the bus does not say anywhere that tickets can only be bought by French citizens.
Then two more guys joined.
They took us out of the bus. They never introduced themselves to who they were.
Everything happened quickly. They were threatening, aggressive and they surrounded us. The girl was afraid that we would record everything, so she pressed the phone all the time when one of us picked up the phone. We wanted to call our friend who we were with in Paris. We showed her that we do not record without calling. We did not understand what they were talking about because they spoke only French.
They did not want to talk to us. They showed on Google translate that their English is bad and that they do not want to talk to us.
They wanted our passports. Since we did not know who these civilians were, we felt scared. Why would we give up our passports? Since they were not police officers, we wanted Police in place so we sorted this out because they could not speak English and they did not want to listen to us what we had to say.
One of them, a girl wrote on Google translate and said that our control fee will now be increased to 100 e because we discuss and ask questions. She wrote that we do not have the right to ask questions only to them. Then she said that they will contact the Swedish embassy because we asked questions.
In the meantime, we realized that the police will not just be threats, so that we will be scared and pick up our passports so that they can print fines. Then one of us went to the Forex exchange office 2 m away from us and asked a French person to call the police, because they constantly checked who we were calling and if we were filming. We felt threatened, scared, offended, where they wanted control over us by surrounding us and behaving this way.
A French girl who called the police said that the police were on their way.
Then we told the inspectors that they should stay that the police were on their way.
But why they ran, they jumped on the bus.
When the police arrived, we explained everything and how badly we were treated. The police then said that we should not pay these fines. To be on the safe side, we called our friend again and luckily we got hold of him.
Our friend also spoke to the Police via messenger and they told him in French the same as us, that we should not pay these fees. As I said, we received two fines of 100 e per person. Double fine for asking questions.
The third person whose ticket went through the vending machine was also picked up from the bus even though she had a valid ticket. She was treated as badly as the other two of us? Why?
My friend who lives in Paris talked to other inspektors day after and he got information that we shall appeal this fine. Same information we got from Swedish Ambasy. Polis officers said that we should NOT pay.
We got even information that tourists are treated badly though they have not made nothing wrong. The purpose is to hand out as many fines as inspectors work on commission. Tourists write about it on the internet and youtube and we are not the first to have experienced this in Paris.
These inspectors did not follow the procedure, they did not tell us who they were, they did not show badges with names, why they wanted our passports, what will happen next, and so on, no information. Carried threatening angry voices and body language.
1. They did not have the right to hold us when we wanted to get off the bus immediately when we saw that tickets do not go through the vending machine. It's a different matter when you get on the bus and sit down consciously and leave without your ticket working for some reason. We as tourists have no opportunity to check the ticket inside the bus. And we did not get to buy a ticket via text message either.
It is discrimination against EU citizens and tourists!
But the poster on the bus does not say that the purchase only applies
to French people.
2. They took our friend out of the bus whose ticket was green, and treated her just as badly.
3. They could not communicate with us because they could not speak English. How could we then present what we wanted to say?
But instead we got double fines from 50e to 100e?
Do you treat tourists like that? Why do you work in a big city where
there are so many tourists in a service profession if you do not know
English and do not want to communicate with people?
4. When I said the police were on their way, why did they sting? Why did they not stay if they do not know English so that we can sort everything out in place in the Police presence?
5. Yes, they saw that we were tourists with bags, three nice girls without a man and they saw their chance to offend, discriminate and treat us badly. We know that inspectors working on commission received information about it and the more fines the better for them.
The fact that they treated us badly and how they were not professional and correct in their profession has made us feel very bad since all this took place in Paris on 30 May.
We have traveled to many countries but we have never been treated so badly in this way that we did not deserve. We are not children but adults without any remarks.
We never got a chance to talk, ask, explain. They refused to have a dialogue.
We are tourists who want good treatment and respect, empathy, and understanding no matter what country we are in. Our values are based on these words throughout the world and especially throughout the EU and should apply to all European citizens. This left such a negative impression on us and we feel bad about it.
We expect these fines to be annulled and an apology.
We will never come back to France .
We are still shaken how tourists are treated..In my country tourists are welcome and when something happens people are happy to help.