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Old 29.10.2011, 13:37
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Don't businesses want business?

I have sent e-mails to two companies asking for an appointment for someone to come and see about repairing some windows and glass panes and also to have our boiler checked for harmful emissions. Both were sent in French and English with an explanation that I don't speak much French, but do understand a fair amount.

Have I had a reply? No. Not even an automatic response. It's been over a week now. Are they so busy that they can turn down business?

It's no good me making a follow up call because unless someone happens to speak English I can't tell them what my problem is so I can arrange an appointment. I've tried looking at local.ch to see if any other companies have people who speak English, but have found nothing.

The only thing I can think to do is send the e-mails again and hope for better luck. I had to do this with the electricians about organising the work we wanted done on our new house. The first e-mail garnered no response, but the second saw them letting us know when the work was going to be done.

However, I have nothing but praise for the Rolf Knie staff (www.rolfknie.ch). I e-mailed them about an order which seemed not to have reached them and within 24 hours I had a reply and within 48 the order was delivered. If only more companies were so on the ball.

In the meantime, if anyone knows of an English-speaking glazer or boiler emissions control checker in the Fribourg area, please let me know.
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Old 29.10.2011, 13:40
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

Can you get a French speaking neighbour or work colleague to call these companies for you?
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Old 29.10.2011, 13:43
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

We wanted to buy more of the Alu recycling machines. Someone from the admin side of things wrote in English and received no response for 3 months. When it was re-written in German, a prompt response was received. After a call in German, the sale went through.







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Old 29.10.2011, 14:33
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

The type of company (tradesmen) you are probably trying to contact is (in general) rather old fashioned. I doubt if anyone reads the emails. You'll really have to ask someone to call for you.
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Old 29.10.2011, 15:34
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

I don't know how things stand in Fribourg, but around here - no, they don't need your business.

It's difficult to find a local building-related firm willing to take on small jobs; many firms seem only to be interested in working on large, lucrative contracts.

To find someone to do a small job, one needs to ask neighbors, the lady at the Post, the gentleman at the Landi - someone may know someone whose brother-in-law might be able to do the job.

Sounds crazy, but that's how things get done. Or one goes to Germany.
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Old 29.10.2011, 16:27
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

Re: your boiler emmission checker...

Look on the front or top of the boiler unit; there should be a service number printed on a sticker. Or, somewhere hanging on the unit or wall there should be a service book - again, the number of the manufacturer's service provider should be there. This is the person you call. All else fails, call the manufacturer for the name of the service tech in your area.

Measuring the emissions levels is mandatory once a year, usually done when the serviceman comes for the annual cleaning (also mandatory - at least here.) You should see a report of last year's test - and you'll know when to schedule the next one.

Should your boiler be over the limit you will get a nice letter from the canton, telling you that you are required to replace it - within 4-5 years IIRC.

If your boiler is over 20 years old, chances are you'll be getting that letter before too long.

(Am in the middle of that delightfully fun process now...)

Good luck.
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Old 29.10.2011, 19:35
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

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Re: your boiler emmission checker...

Look on the front or top of the boiler unit; there should be a service number printed on a sticker. Or, somewhere hanging on the unit or wall there should be a service book - again, the number of the manufacturer's service provider should be there. This is the person you call. All else fails, call the manufacturer for the name of the service tech in your area.

Measuring the emissions levels is mandatory once a year, usually done when the serviceman comes for the annual cleaning (also mandatory - at least here.) You should see a report of last year's test - and you'll know when to schedule the next one.

Should your boiler be over the limit you will get a nice letter from the canton, telling you that you are required to replace it - within 4-5 years IIRC.

If your boiler is over 20 years old, chances are you'll be getting that letter before too long.

(Am in the middle of that delightfully fun process now...)

Good luck.
Yes, meloncollie, that's exactly why I was contacting the service provider. There's a note on my boiler to say the last test was done in 2009 and it's due again now. This being my first oil heating system experience (previous property was all electric), I don't want anything going wrong just because we haven't had it checked out. I actually have two companies listed so maybe I'll try e-mailing the other one and see if they respond.

I wouldn't mind so much about the glazer except that I happened to spot him and his company van when he was visiting my new neighbour and asked him to have a quick look at what needed doing. He didn't seem unhappy about doing the work, but unfortunately this was back at the end of July and with all the chaos of trying to move tons of stuff before end of September deadline plus my computer going down, I haven't been able to follow up on the sketchy French conversation I had with him until now.

I may well have to resort to the neighbour ploy, Sandgrounder, if I get nowhere with my queries. At least they're a friendly couple so I think they'd oblige me providing I can make them understand what's asked for. Thank goodness for a translation program; keeps us out of trouble.
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Old 29.10.2011, 20:30
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

In our Gemeinde and the ones of a few friends, the firm who does the mandatory sweeping of the chimney comes round on a different day of the year in the same van, but with a different person, to make the emissions testing.

I asked both why they did not do it at the same time and was told the rehearsed reply that "they were not qualified to do each others job".

Real high tech stuff cleaning chimneys on oil heaters - I don't think. The gas test is also an automatic machine which must take a maximum of a week's training.

Totally dodgy as I later discovered from my Stamm Tische "friends". These firms work as local cartels and have their own areas of control. By mutual agreement, they will refuse to work in each others areas. They come round twice so they can get twice as much dosh from you. Chances are that whoever does your neighbours emissions test is the only one you will ever find to come into your home.

Normally they post a card once a year each for the cleaning and testing and TELL YOU when they are coming. If you ring up the number of the boiler maintainer, chances are he will come and test your emissions, but this will not count as the "official" yearly or two yearly test. In other Gemeindes apparently the emissions test is every two years.

In my case, the heater installer seems to have done half of the village and his family and the Kaminfegers have been close for generations. Also I am convinced that some of the Gemeinde folk get nice backhanders and free service. (Sorry I am a cynic).

Unless you are worried about carbon monoxide or strange smells, I would be tempted to wait for your appointment. Otherwise, my first stop would be to ask the neighbour or go to the Gemeinde or commune. (all records will be held there anyway). I am not sure how expensive canaries are, but this is an old miners emission test you could try while waiting for the letter.

If you have young kids, I would suggest a career in this line of work - job for life with good money.

I was thinking of asking someone from Germany to come round and do the cleaning and testing and submit the results to the Gemeinde (to see what happens) - I reckon that the local cartel would probably let his tyres down
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Old 29.10.2011, 20:45
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

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We wanted to buy more of the Alu recycling machines. Someone from the admin side of things wrote in English and received no response for 3 months. When it was re-written in German, a prompt response was received. After a call in German, the sale went through.
Maybe a spam issue … English mail, especially inquiries, tend to get filtered as spam if most mail a user receives is in another language, i.e. German in this case.
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Old 29.10.2011, 20:47
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

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I have sent e-mails to two companies asking for an appointment for someone to come and see about repairing some windows and glass panes and also to have our boiler checked for harmful emissions. Both were sent in French and English with an explanation that I don't speak much French, but do understand a fair amount.

Have I had a reply? No. Not even an automatic response. It's been over a week now. Are they so busy that they can turn down business?
Probably yes … Switzerland's housing bubble is still growing with low (actually even negative real) interest rates and free immigration from Europe. As a consequence, companies related to housing are booming and tend to go for the easy business, i.e., people stupid enough to spend substantial money in spite of the housing bubble.
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Old 01.11.2011, 18:48
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Re: Don't businesses want business?

Thanks for all the info, folks. Will have to put follow up on hold though, as husband and I have to do a dash to UK as the father-in-law is in hospital.

Hopefully, I'll get it all sorted out when I get back. Still, it is frustrating with some companies being on the ball and others not really seeming to care.
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