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Old 25.08.2019, 22:48
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Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

Hi There,

I think I am a victim of a scam growing in popularity in Zurich.

The story is covered already by local media:

https://www.20min.ch/schweiz/zuerich...auer--10353537

Long story short, after shopping in Lidl one day we have realized that we forgot to buy one additional item and my wife drove back to pick it up. As the whole Lidl parking was already occupied and, as it was a quick business, she stopped the car on a side of the Lidl parking, which was neither someone else parking spot nor the car was blocking the passage. After few minutes, when she came back, the car was gone. After a call to the police it turned out that the vehicle was towed away (abgeschleppt) by a private company called "Auto Notruf Zürich".

We have managed to get the auto back, but they try to extort from us now >650CHF. My Rechtsschutz insurance said they cannot officially help me as "there is no contract" (?), but advised me about some possible reply to the apparently scam company. Finally I have decided to pay about a third of the bill just to have the topic off my head. Recently I have received a letter from the Debt Agency (Betreibungsamt) for the whole amount, which I have of course objected (Rechtsvorschlag). I guess soon I will get an invitation for the pre-court hearing.

I believe they are abusing existing law to extort money because:
- the applied means were not appropriate to the situation (no blocking any existing spot or a passage and a short parking time)
- the requested amount does not correspond to fees by the police (they could demand 10k CHF, why not?)
- they claim to have some sort of arrangement with the land owner (Zession), but from what I understood from some police leaflets there should be a towing request from the parking owner.

Has anyone had also such a story?
Can you recommend any lawyer as I am not going to be bullied by some criminal like activity?
Maybe we could combine our cases and share the costs of the lawyer?
Btw. does it make any sense that the Rechtsschutz and Privathaftpflicht insurance denies support in this case?

Thanks!
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Old 26.08.2019, 01:59
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

Here's a Tagesanzeiger article about parking and having a car removed:
https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/zuerich...story/21470677

In there is a link to the pdf of the police, explaining what's allowed and what is not. (in German).
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Old 26.08.2019, 07:54
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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Here's a Tagesanzeiger article about parking and having a car removed:
https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/zuerich...story/21470677

In there is a link to the pdf of the police, explaining what's allowed and what is not. (in German).
It would be great if a moderator could make the PDF in the article a sticky as the question comes up pretty often.
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Old 26.08.2019, 09:10
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

- the applied means were not appropriate to the situation (no blocking any existing spot or a passage and a short parking time)
In CH, my rule of thumb is: If there is no sign showing parking is allowed, then I assume it is verboten.

- the requested amount does not correspond to fees by the police (they could demand 10k CHF, why not?)
CHF650 is not a "fine" but a towing fee for their effort. Police don't get themselves involved with private parking disputes.

- they claim to have some sort of arrangement with the land owner (Zession), but from what I understood from some police leaflets there should be a towing request from the parking owner.
If it is not Lidl who reported you, then maybe a tenant in the nearby buildings. I don't know the area, but if parking is a big headache there, I suggest you bring your shopping somewhere else.

"Not blocking or short parking time" -> this is only your wife's opinion. Other tenants in the area may not agree with her.


Has anyone had also such a story?
Can you recommend any lawyer as I am not going to be bullied by some criminal like activity?
Lawyering up will just mean more expense for you with not much to gain.

Maybe we could combine our cases and share the costs of the lawyer?
Btw. does it make any sense that the Rechtsschutz and Privathaftpflicht insurance denies support in this case?
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Old 26.08.2019, 10:41
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

I assume you are talking about Grubenstrasse?

The moment you leave the public road it is all private ground, and there are very clear signs that your car can be towed away when not parking in the allowed spots. So I don't see a problem with them towing you.

The price however should be reasonable and they are not allowed to keep your car till you pay.

For Others this is the place I'm talking about and where this is happening for years:

https://www.google.com/maps/@47.3618.../data=!3m1!1e3

The small part with the 4 white arrows on the ground is the Lidl parking spot, the area to the right of that is where they tow away a lot of cars over time.
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Old 26.08.2019, 10:56
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

- "as it was a quick business, she stopped the car on a side of the Lidl parking, which was neither someone else parking spot nor the car was blocking the passage. After few minutes, when she came back, the car was gone. "


How long?
I watched a car get towed last weekend from my street, took the guy at least 15 minutes from arrival to departures, closer to 20.
Was only one guy though operating the truck and winch.


It would appear from the article and that document from the Police, you could well be in the right, or you could be wrong, only by spaffing more cash in court will you find out, cash not covered by insurance.



Who has their ducks more in a row?
The towing company will know the law, and they certainly will have a contract with the land owner, or more likely management company. Were they cruising looking for victims, or were they called?


Whereas you have parked illegally, so your only 'defence' is picking at the law and any procedure they (may have) failed to follow.


You pays your money, you takes your chances.


If it was me, I would just cough up and be bitter. The downside (cost, effort, stress) would not justify my martyrdom.

Good luck!
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Old 26.08.2019, 10:59
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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How long?
I watched a car get towed last weekend from my street, took the guy at least 15 minutes from arrival to departures, closer to 20.
Was only one guy though operating the truck and winch.
Besides this, there is no rule that they have to wait a certain amount of time, it's better to leave a note with your phone number clearly under the window since they than are forced to take up contact before they can start towing meaning you only have to pay for an empty ride.
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Old 26.08.2019, 11:53
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

Just a quick link dump:

https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/pd/de/i...leppwesen.html

https://www.kapo.zh.ch/internet/sich...parkplatz.html

Use deepl.com as necassary.

In general:
- They must release the car w/o payment.
- They must give you a bill and can chase the money using usual civil law possibilities (Betreibung, sue etc.)
- Towing must be a reasonable measure
- Up to double the polices towing fee can be acceptable (So far courts decide that more than double the police fee is not acceptable.).
- City of Zurich Police towing fee is CHF 200. Storage fee CHF 15 / day (even for partial days).
- You accept the bill if you pay it in full.
- "Zession" (debt assignment) means to give the right to claim and collect an outstanding debt from one party to another party. In your case the land owner gave the right to claim the towing fee from you to the towing company.
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Old 26.08.2019, 12:10
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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Long story short, after shopping in Lidl one day we have realized that we forgot to buy one additional item and my wife drove back to pick it up. As the whole Lidl parking was already occupied and, as it was a quick business, she stopped the car on a side of the Lidl parking, which was neither someone else parking spot nor the car was blocking the passage. After few minutes, when she came back, the car was gone. After a call to the police it turned out that the vehicle was towed away (abgeschleppt) by a private company called "Auto Notruf Zürich".
How long was your wife parked there? For me, if I'd forgotten an item in the supermarket, depending on how busy it is, it would take me under 5 mins to go in and grab it, pay, and get back to the car.

The time it would take for someone to call the towing company, for it to arrive at Lidl, load up and secure the car on the low-loader (those things take AGES!), it must have been more than "a few minutes".
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Old 26.08.2019, 12:27
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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The time it would take for someone to call the towing company, for it to arrive at Lidl, load up and secure the car on the low-loader (those things take AGES!), it must have been more than "a few minutes".
If the towing company is being "predatory", then they would already have a tow truck in this hotspot area. If they push it further, they will not even wait for anyone to call. So its just loading up the car, how long does this take?
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Old 26.08.2019, 12:34
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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If the towing company is being "predatory", then they would already have a tow truck in this hotspot area. If they push it further, they will not even wait for anyone to call. So its just loading up the car, how long does this take?
It's not a very efficient way of running a business; parking a tow-truck and a couple of staff-members round the corner from a random car park on the off-chance someone is going to step out of line. But, hey, if it's a hotspot for people taking the piss, maybe that's what they do.

People are always parking in the little courtyard where my office is and each time there's a rogue car, someone from one of the surrounding companies pops out to check, pops back maybe ten mins later to see if it's gone and then, finally, might call it in with the towing company. More often than not it's between 30 mins and an hour BEFORE they call them, depending on how badly they need the space freed up.

I've certainly never seen a tow truck poised round the corner, and they normally take 45 mins to arrive at our "hotspot".
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Old 26.08.2019, 12:59
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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People are always parking in the little courtyard where my office is and each time there's a rogue car, someone from one of the surrounding companies pops out to check, pops back maybe ten mins later to see if it's gone and then, finally, might call it in with the towing company. More often than not it's between 30 mins and an hour BEFORE they call them, depending on how badly they need the space freed up.

I've certainly never seen a tow truck poised round the corner, and they normally take 45 mins to arrive at our "hotspot".
It looks like who ever owns the private, non-public parking space has given the towing company full rights and discretion to tow anytime anyone. no call needed. With CHF 400 or more per car it is indeed a lucrative "business". The press words such as "dorne" and "vulture" to describe the towing companies behavior.

https://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/zuerich...story/14238336

https://www.nzz.ch/zuerich/abschlepp...0?reduced=true
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Old 26.08.2019, 13:04
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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It's not a very efficient way of running a business; parking a tow-truck and a couple of staff-members round the corner from a random car park on the off-chance someone is going to step out of line. But, hey, if it's a hotspot for people taking the piss, maybe that's what they do.
Having people sit at the office is as costly as having people sit spread out over town, also when spread out one can serve customers quickly which is good for future business.

And that area is stuffed with people parking wrongly, I also see the people from the city doing rounds to write out fines easily 2 or 3 times a day there.
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Old 26.08.2019, 13:10
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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Having people sit at the office is as costly as having people sit spread out over town, also when spread out one can serve customers quickly which is good for future business.

And that area is stuffed with people parking wrongly, I also see the people from the city doing rounds to write out fines easily 2 or 3 times a day there.
OK, fair enough. But the fact that the tow truck had been in, loaded up and secured the car in less time than it had taken the OP's missus to go back for her box of eggs or tube of toothpaste or whatever it was, shows either a lightning level of efficiency by the towing company or the OP's missus was longer than she thought.

That was really the point I was making.
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Old 26.08.2019, 13:25
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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OK, fair enough. But the fact that the tow truck had been in, loaded up and secured the car in less time than it had taken the OP's missus to go back for her box of eggs or tube of toothpaste or whatever it was, shows either a lightning level of efficiency by the towing company or the OP's missus was longer than she thought.

That was really the point I was making.
If the car is parked in a way that they can approach it properly, all they need is one or two minutes to grab it and be gone. Depending on which side the can reach and if the two wheels that remain on the street need a small cart under them. In ideal situations they can lock and load a car in 10 seconds.

Have a look at the picture on their site: http://www.autonotruf-zürich.ch
Now imagine the front to be reached easily and the back wheels not locked.

And if that supermarket has the parking space completely filled than grabbing an item might be a minute, but than the waiting at the cash register starts and 10 minutes for all is easily passed.
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Old 26.08.2019, 20:47
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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If the car is parked in a way that they can approach it properly, all they need is one or two minutes to grab it and be gone. Depending on which side the can reach and if the two wheels that remain on the street need a small cart under them. In ideal situations they can lock and load a car in 10 seconds.

Have a look at the picture on their site: http://www.autonotruf-zürich.ch
Now imagine the front to be reached easily and the back wheels not locked.

And if that supermarket has the parking space completely filled than grabbing an item might be a minute, but than the waiting at the cash register starts and 10 minutes for all is easily passed.
That was exactly my case. The car was parked on a side of the official Lidl parking, so the front of the vehicle was very easily accessible.

Thank you all for the very interesting links to the media articles. It confirms my earlier research that this an example of a predatory firma with an immoral business model:
- towing away should be proportionate (verhältnismässig), which I am convinced was not the case as the car was not blocking anything
- there should be a try to contact the car owner, which is not a case for this firma, which is just waiting for a prey on the side of the parking
- the towing fee should not be far away from the police's fee (200 + 90 CHF as I understand).

There is a hope that it will end ok as in this NZZ article (although I have paid already 200+ CHF) :
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Bald darauf erhielt B. C.'s Vater eine Rechnung über knapp 600 Franken. Auf Anraten der Rechtsschutzversicherung zahlte er nicht. Und gegen die später erhaltene Betreibung habe er Rechtsvorschlag erhoben, erzählt der Sohn. «Dann gaben sie Ruhe.»
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Old 26.08.2019, 22:11
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

Attach a cylinder of nerve gas.

Tom
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Old 26.08.2019, 22:57
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

...or just don't park where it's not permitted.
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Old 27.08.2019, 08:42
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

Parking there is a mess. People are parked outside of the spaces or even at handicapped parking spots.
I usually just drive a little bit further down the road and park in the white zone.
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Old 27.08.2019, 10:19
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Re: Auto Notruf Zürich - SCAM?

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Parking there is a mess. People are parked outside of the spaces or even at handicapped parking spots.
I usually just drive a little bit further down the road and park in the white zone.
Yep often when the supermarket is becoming very busy which mostly is when people start to leave work there are enough open spaces on the road and parking on the road is depending on your spot either 4 hours free with card, or 50 rappen for an hour. Surely it might be a few minutes walk, but otherwise you'd spend those minutes waiting in line for a spot to open.
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