Re: Speaking as a Scientist... @Simon
"Perhaps your French/Spanish computer shoppes just don't offer a good customer service, or your choice of Wintel laptop brand just doesn't have a good service channel."
I'm in Switzerland and there is no problem getting what you want via a channel provider, but if you only have access to retail outlets you are well and truly stuck with Swiss keyboards.
Apple is the only major brand who offer an English keyboard at the retail level.
And programming with various European keyboards is a real pain, not to mention the occasional utility which demands a key combination which is not available (yes I know you can remap keys, but that's tiresome).