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Old 16.02.2020, 11:29
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Consumer protection bureau

Hi all,
Do you know of the existence of a consumer protection bureau, or similar, in Switzerland? We feel kind of ripped off by a window company.

We agreed with our landlord that he would pay for costing of the master bedroom window seals reparation, as they were too old and not isolating enough. He found a company to do the job. They sent him a budget for the reparation including only the master bedroom window. He agreed on it, and when the staff finally came to repair the window they asked my wife 'something in german' about the kids bedroom. My wife understood that this had to be also repaired and shown them the kids bedroom. They repaired the seals there, which were already in good condition according to the landlord, and left.

A couple of weeks later I got a letter from the landlord indicating that he had received an invoice from that company that was also including a reparation for the kids bedroom. As he had never agreed on it we had to pay for it. He sent me the budget he had got initially, without any mention to the kids bedroom, and an invoice including the kids bedroom; the difference has to be on our side.

We were wondering if there's an oficial place were one can address formal complains in Switzerland. The surplus is not much, 300 CHF, but we feel the way this company did it was not profesional at all, not explicitelly telling us that if we wanted also the kids bedroom to be repaired, which was totally unnecessary, the cost would be beared by us, not the landlord, or even telling how much would it be before doing so. They even charged 5.5 hours when in total it was only 4.5 hours. Do you they include here the communiting time?
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Old 16.02.2020, 11:35
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

Long answer short: Just pay the 300,-

You allowed for work to be done that was not agreed upon by the landlord.
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Old 16.02.2020, 11:39
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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Long answer short: Just pay the 300,-

You allowed for work to be done that was not agreed upon by the landlord.
At the time the guy came to fix it, we were not aware of what had been agreed upon by the landlord. He could have just said, 'show me all the windows in the house', and my wife would have shown them one by one.
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Old 16.02.2020, 11:45
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

I feel like this isnít sharp practice. I have been caught out a couple of times by my lack of German and just indicating agreement out of general politeness. Thatís my responsibility, not the merchantís!

Look at it from their point of view. They wonít have just said Ďsomething in Germaní but will have asked or explained what they are doing. Perhaps ďare we to do this room also?Ē (Does it have the same sort of windows, maybe, or the same aspect?) If they asked and were shown to the room by your wife and happily worked away without your wife saying anything, objecting, or stopping them, it seems unreasonable to say only after they have left and the invoice has arrived, that she did not want the work and that they should have known this despite her being present and saying nothing at the time.

Not sure they can or should be expected to know the details of any arrangement between you and your landlord, either! They may well know what has been quoted, but they canít know what the arrangements are by the owner and resident in relation to one another.

Good luck!
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Old 16.02.2020, 12:21
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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Do you they include here the commuting time?
Yes, why wouldn't they?

When I travel to customers, whether in Switzerland or other countries, my employers bills them for expenses and travel time.

Tom

Last edited by st2lemans; 16.02.2020 at 13:09.
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Old 16.02.2020, 12:34
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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At the time the guy came to fix it, we were not aware of what had been agreed upon by the landlord. He could have just said, 'show me all the windows in the house', and my wife would have shown them one by one.
That would have been a much higher bill to pay for you in that case.

You could have asked them how it would be billed, you could have told them to hold for a few minutes while you call the landlord. You could have said "only the initial order and nothing more" etc.. etc..
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Old 16.02.2020, 12:45
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

Not understanding the language is no excuse. Latest when they went to/started working on the kid's bedroom, your wife must have realized what the question in German was about.

I suspect your wife thought "oh how nice, they do those too" and now needs excuses towards you.
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Old 16.02.2020, 12:49
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

I feel they took advantage on my wife's lack of German skills. She was there, she talked with the guy, she told me how it went and I believe her. That's all.

What I am asking is, for me or for any other forum fellow in need, whether there is or not an official consumer protection bureau in Switzerland.

Does anyone of you know of such thing?
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Old 16.02.2020, 12:53
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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Not understanding the language is no excuse. Latest when they went to/started working on the kid's bedroom, your wife must have realized what the question in German was about.

I suspect your wife thought "oh how nice, they do those too" and now needs excuses towards you.

They most likely asked in Swiss German.

Hand workers usually can't speak a foreign language.
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Old 16.02.2020, 12:54
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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Not understanding the language is no excuse. Latest when they went to/started working on the kid's bedroom, your wife must have realized what the question in German was about.

I suspect your wife thought "oh how nice, they do those too" and now needs excuses towards you.
Yes, she though it was nice they were also doing kids bedroom; I don't see why she should excuse for that.
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:01
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

So you expect the landlord to pay for your kids room or do you expect the company to absorb the cost?

Seriously can't see what you would expect at this point. At best, you could ask the landlord to split half ot the kids room with you as it is his flat after all but that woul remain with his good will to do so or not.

You have no leg to stand on. Feel lucky it was 300 chf, they could have charged 3000 easily.
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:06
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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Yes, she though it was nice they were also doing kids bedroom; I don't see why she should excuse for that.
Because companies don't do freebies?

There you go, good luck:
Konsumentenschutz
Show up in person, so you can see their reaction
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:08
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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We were wondering if there's an oficial place were one can address formal complains in Switzerland.
So you are going to complain about a company asking your wife if she wanted a job done and then acting on the response of someone whom they mistakenly assumed was a responsible adult... well I suppose itíll give them a laugh in any case.
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:11
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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So you expect the landlord to pay for your kids room or do you expect the company to absorb the cost?
As I said, we feel they were not honest. Kids bedroom seals had been already inspected by them an not quoted in the budget presented to landlord because they were good enough. We didn't know what had been agreed with the landlord. Someone (an official institution?) should them off for these kind of practices. That's all.
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:12
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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I feel they took advantage on my wife's lack of German skills. She was there, she talked with the guy, she told me how it went and I believe her. That's all.

What I am asking is, for me or for any other forum fellow in need, whether there is or not an official consumer protection bureau in Switzerland.

Does anyone of you know of such thing?
Classical case of misunderstanding, wouldn't blame them for asking a client if there's anything else they could do. Take it as a life lesson tuition, one should never pretend they understand something when they don't. Especially when it comes with a cost.

Ultimately is only 300 chf.....it could have been much worse.
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:25
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

Daniel, you are likely going to have to pay the invoice and then chalk this up to a learning experience.

Many of us have made similar mistakes as we were learning the language and learning how things work here. Just think of this episode as part of the general expense of getting settled in.


Understand four things:

1. The onus is on you to understand the local language.

2. Unlike elsewhere where entering into a contract is often more of a process, here a simple verbal agreement is (generally - insert complex legalese) binding. So see the point one.

3. Broadly speaking, there is less consumer protection here than you might expect elsewhere.

4. 'Selber schuld' is a way of life.

Going forward, if you do not yet speak German (or French, or Italian as applicable) with sufficient functionality to be confident in dealing with businesses, you need to be on guard in any situation where you could unwittingly enter into a verbal agreement.

Don't be afraid of saying 'I don't understand' and ending the conversation. Don't feel pressured to be agreeable or gloss over lack of understanding. Yes, in many cultures we are socially trained to do so, so this is an automatic behavior many of us have to unlearn. Make sure you know the German for 'I do not have the authority to decide, you must ask the landlord (or other person/authority)' to help you get out of a uncomfortable situation, and use that phrase as a shield. In short, if you don't understand, say nothing.

Look at it this way: CHF 300 is actually a small price to pay for a valuable lesson.

Put this behind you, it's not worth getting in a tizzy over. There will be more mistakes - and yes, most of us have made them too. Key is to learn something each time.
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:28
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

The problem was a lack of communication between the landlord, you and your wife imho. I understand that you might feel taken advantage of, but spending more money to try to pursue this is worthless. If you do, I would go after the landlord not the window company. But it will be a lot of bitterness and expenses for 300 chf.
In the future I would make sure to have a list of work to be done agreed with the landlord if you are supervising the work without the landlord.
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:30
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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The problem was a lack of communication between the landlord, you and your wife imho. I understand that you might feel taken advantage of, but spending more money to try to pursue this is worthless. If you do, I would go after the landlord not the window company. But it will be a lot of bitterness and expenses for 300 chf.
Why the landlord?
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:31
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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As I said, we feel they were not honest. Kids bedroom seals had been already inspected by them an not quoted in the budget presented to landlord because they were good enough. We didn't know what had been agreed with the landlord. Someone (an official institution?) should them off for these kind of practices. That's all.
well, if you want to play the "we didn't know" card, you need to play the game right from the start:

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...... We agreed with our landlord that he would pay for costing of the master bedroom window seals reparation, as they were too old and not isolating enough. He found a company to do the job. They sent him a budget for the reparation including only the master bedroom window. He agreed on it .....
And Switzerland has this all-covering-problem-solver-clause: <<Ignorance is no excuse in law.>>
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Old 16.02.2020, 13:35
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Re: Consumer protection bureau

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Why the landlord?
He claims he didn't know what work was agreed with the landlord and just let them do what they wanted and now the landlord wants him to pay. Of course we don't know what the workman said to his wife.
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