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Old 24.03.2020, 15:30
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I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

I'm new to the region and for a small thing I needed to do I called upon some tax/accounting firm in Nyon, which I was told was founded by a former civil servant. I ended-up being scammed hard. I'm completely livid. For a job that should have taken a max of 2 hours and cost a few hundred francs, they sent me a bill nearing 10k, and when I complained they threatened to escalate things with my employer and put me in "poursuites" if I didn't pay. They said that I wouldn't be able to get anything done (bank account, apartment, etc.) if I was in "poursuites". Is that true?



I don't know what to do. I feel so humiliated. I will go see a local lawyer to understand what my rights are, and what recourse I have.



I was under the impression Swiss companies were trustworthy and didn't behave like this. They insulted me, saying "this is not the third-world" and saying "I should get used to it". I feel deeply humiliated. Some love would be appreciated at this point ;(


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Old 24.03.2020, 15:31
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

Not knowing what was to be done it is impossible to say if it is too expensive and you got scammed or if your expectations were off.
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Old 24.03.2020, 15:38
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

Ask for an itemised bill?
There's a very wide gap between 2 hours and 10k.
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Old 24.03.2020, 15:39
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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Not knowing what was to be done it is impossible to say if it is too expensive and you got scammed or if your expectations were off.
Yup, you really need to give more info on what you asked them to do and what they did to give you such a high bill.
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Old 24.03.2020, 15:39
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Is it normal to charge 400 CHF per hour for something a junior accountant could do?


The mandate was simple enough,I plan on starting (in addition to my part-time job) an independent activity in Switzerland (some small e-commerce shop), and I needed them to advise me on whether I needed to charge VAT, and how to register with the VAT office in Bern. Their "analysis" was basically a 2-page letter saying that under 100k revenue I don't need to do anything, and that if I exceed that amount I can register retroactively.



Is that seriously worth 9,500 CHF? Even at 400 CHF per hour that's nearly 24h of work. How could it be??

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Yup, you really need to give more info on what you asked them to do and what they did to give you such a high bill.

I will come back to this thread and answer additional questions. I'm gone for a few hours now. In the mean time could someone let me know if it's true I can't get anything done in case I'm in "poursuites"? What does that entail exactly?

Last edited by 3Wishes; 26.03.2020 at 15:53. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 24.03.2020, 15:44
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

It is not true that you cannot get anything done if you are poursuites. It can make things a bit difficult. If you receive one, then you need to contest it. Search this forum to find out how. Are you late paying the bill yet? If not, you've got time to resolve things before it gets to that stage.

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Their "analysis" was basically a 2-page letter saying that under 100k revenue I don't need to do anything, and that if I exceed that amount I can register retroactively.
If you'd have asked here, we could have told you that.

In future always asking for their schedule of fees up front. Too late now. But you must ask for an itemised bill. You cannot proceed without that itemised bill. You need to see exactly what they are charging you for.

Do not shout "scam". Be polite and cordial, as though you simply wanting to understand.
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Old 24.03.2020, 15:53
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

I think you have reason to complain as that seems an excessive amount:

- Ask for an itemised bill with time/rates they spent on your case
- Keep all correspondence written (emails, letters NOT phone calls)
- Keep all emails/letters you have concerning the work requested
- Contest the bill if you are not satisfied with their explanation
- If the debt office send your a demand to pay, oppose it!
- Do NOT go straight to a lawyer, you will get extra fees (Fr 300 / hour / letter)

Next try and negotiate.

Worst case let them keep threatening you and take you to court where you can present all the above info as I can only imagine the judgement will be better than 10k BUT you may incur other court fees...

Last edited by ch2013; 24.03.2020 at 16:19.
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Old 24.03.2020, 16:03
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

I'm sure it's the same firm who did same to me a couple of years ago..

All very friendly, helpful etc.. Told me first they had to get all my docs, then they'd start, it would take a few hours since I had a some years to do retrospectively.. But there's no hurry since it was retrospective, they would just email me asking for xyz docs etc..
The email exchanges went on for weeks, like the odd one or two per week.. "we need a bank statement from 2014" .. "We need a mortgage statement from 2015" .. I'd get what they asked, scan it and send it.

Eventually they had what they needed, and submitted it.. I got a 9k tax refund and a bill for 10k from the tax company ..

Sounds familiar ?

They had been adding on two / three hours for all these emails for "Sending, checking, filing, reading... etc"
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Old 24.03.2020, 16:09
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

First write a polite letter disputing the amount and also ask for an itemised bill.

Next, tell your employer what they have done and what they are threatening. It is a form of blackmail and if you have that in writing you can certainly use it against them.

Wait for their answer and then offer, without prejudice, CHF1,000 (or whatever amount you deem correct) to settle the matter. If they refuse and issue a poursuite, make objection for the CHF 9k and pay to the office of poursuite the CHF1,000 immediately. It is then up to them to accept or go to a reconciliation hearing. I doubt they will want to do this since if that was really all you were asking it is certainly excessive.
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Old 24.03.2020, 16:17
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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First write a polite letter disputing the amount and also ask for an itemised bill.

Next, tell your employer what they have done and what they are threatening. It is a form of blackmail and if you have that in writing you can certainly use it against them.

Wait for their answer and then offer, without prejudice, CHF1,000 (or whatever amount you deem correct) to settle the matter. If they refuse and issue a poursuite, make objection for the CHF 9k and pay to the office of poursuite the CHF1,000 immediately. It is then up to them to accept or go to a reconciliation hearing. I doubt they will want to do this since if that was really all you were asking it is certainly excessive.

NO! He doesn't have to say anything to his employer, this is a form of blackmail.


They are NOT allowed to contact others concerning a supposed debt, only a judge can do this.
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Old 24.03.2020, 16:18
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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Is it normal to charge 400 CHF per hour for something a junior accountant could do?

The mandate was simple enough,I plan on starting (in addition to my part-time job) an independent activity in Switzerland (some small e-commerce shop), and I needed them to advise me on whether I needed to charge VAT, and how to register with the VAT office in Bern. Their "analysis" was basically a 2-page letter saying that under 100k revenue I don't need to do anything, and that if I exceed that amount I can register retroactively.

Is that seriously worth 9,500 CHF? Even at 400 CHF per hour that's nearly 24h of work. How could it be??
I wouldn't care about price for now. It is more important to establish if you are liable or not. I understand you're upset and full of negative feelings but it's time to think.

I work as consultant. I think the company I work for has the right policies to avoid situations like the one you mention. It makes the client and our consultant life easier. According to our policies we need these documents before a job is done:

1) Written price offer: it contains a clear description of the job to be made and the price. The format doesn't matter, it can be a 50 page document or a short email, but it must contain the relevant info.

2)Written client acceptance of the offer: it can be a document (bestellung/commande) where the client signs to confirm he understands the offer terms and wants the job done. For smaller jobs (<10K CHF) an email is enough. Only when we have a running contract per hours, we take additional orders by phone. But this is exceptional, if there's trouble to get than invoice paid...wait for the sermon from the company's lawyer.

For me it's routine work to make offers and document the client acceptance of the work. In case the client doesn't want to pay, starting a poursuite/betriebung is easy with the documents.

So, what's the whole story? What was the exact communication with the consultant? Discussing the fairness of 10K is irrelevant before knowing the contractual conditions:

1) Did you receive a written offer?
2) Did you requested in written form the job?

Some people will tell that oral contracts are also binding in Switzerland, but.....we're not farmers or carpenters Our consultant life is writing documents the whole damned day and that includes offers and orders. If you received a price offer and you said "go ahead" in an email, you may be liable for 10, 20 or 100K, whatever they put in the written offer, sorry.

But, nothing's black or white. You may have written received a quote for an hour of work. You imagined it takes two hours to get it done and make an imaginary price in your head. In this case it's 50/50 lack of duty from the consultant to explain the final invoice may be 10K and your lack of duty to ask for a final price. At situations like this a lawyer may help.

---------------------------------

Now the poursuites (debt recovery) side of the situation. If they made a written offer and have your acceptance either via signed document or email, starting the debt recovery is super easy.

I start to doubt about the honesty of this consultant. Opening a bank account is not affected by poursuites. If that were true, a significant fraction of people living in Switzerland could not have a bank account because a lot of people have troubles with unpaid debts. This looks more like the threat of a shady debt recovery company than a respectable consultant.

Finally, having an open process to recover debt may affect renting a new apartment. This is true
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Old 24.03.2020, 16:24
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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NO! He doesn't have to say anything to his employer, this is a form of blackmail.


They are NOT allowed to contact others concerning a supposed debt, only a judge can do this.
Yes, he doesn't HAVE to tell his employer, but the best counter to blackmail is to inform the person to whom the information might be given. If they learn of this from him first, rather than the accounting firm, they'll likely be sympathetic. If the firm does then pass this on, he will have evidence to use against them.
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Old 24.03.2020, 16:27
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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Finally, having an open process to recover debt may affect renting a new apartment. This is true
It is only public when the case has been heard and the settlement agreed has not been paid.
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Old 24.03.2020, 16:29
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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I'm sure it's the same firm who did same to me a couple of years ago..

All very friendly, helpful etc.. Told me first they had to get all my docs, then they'd start, it would take a few hours since I had a some years to do retrospectively.. But there's no hurry since it was retrospective, they would just email me asking for xyz docs etc..
The email exchanges went on for weeks, like the odd one or two per week.. "we need a bank statement from 2014" .. "We need a mortgage statement from 2015" .. I'd get what they asked, scan it and send it.

Eventually they had what they needed, and submitted it.. I got a 9k tax refund and a bill for 10k from the tax company ..

Sounds familiar ?

They had been adding on two / three hours for all these emails for "Sending, checking, filing, reading... etc"
This is deceptive...dishonest in the worst case

There's a duty to inform the client when the hours start to pile. One email to the client a week informing the number of hours avoids useless discussions.

The duty to inform comes from the fact the client does not know what he's ordering. almost 100% of consultant clients do not know what they're ordering. If the client knew, the client would not hire us.
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Old 24.03.2020, 17:27
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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Yes, he doesn't HAVE to tell his employer, but the best counter to blackmail is to inform the person to whom the information might be given. If they learn of this from him first, rather than the accounting firm, they'll likely be sympathetic. If the firm does then pass this on, he will have evidence to use against them.
No, sorry you are wrong. Donít give out BS advice like that as there is no judgement so no reason to involve the employer. If the company contacts the employer then OP should take it from there and will have a stronger case imho.
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Old 24.03.2020, 17:28
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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Is it normal to charge 400 CHF per hour for something a junior accountant could do?


The mandate was simple enough,I plan on starting (in addition to my part-time job) an independent activity in Switzerland (some small e-commerce shop), and I needed them to advise me on whether I needed to charge VAT, and how to register with the VAT office in Bern. Their "analysis" was basically a 2-page letter saying that under 100k revenue I don't need to do anything, and that if I exceed that amount I can register retroactively.



Is that seriously worth 9,500 CHF? Even at 400 CHF per hour that's nearly 24h of work. How could it be??
What was the estimate they gave you when you engaged them and what did they undertake to do for you exactly?
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Old 24.03.2020, 18:09
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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This is deceptive...dishonest in the worst case

There's a duty to inform the client when the hours start to pile. One email to the client a week informing the number of hours avoids useless discussions.

The duty to inform comes from the fact the client does not know what he's ordering. almost 100% of consultant clients do not know what they're ordering. If the client knew, the client would not hire us.
To my mind it was completely deceptive and dishonest .. I got an itemised bill, they actually charged 2 hours @ 250chf to read the letter from the tax office giving me the refund..
It was a one liner - "Dear John_H, we've checked your file and you're due a refund, here it is..."
What annoyed me more, as you say is that they should have told me.. They had all of my financial details, they knew perfectly well that this surprise bill would be a kick in the balls..

Probably same company .. Starts with an R and sounds like Granny.
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Old 24.03.2020, 18:33
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

there is no complaint platform for this? so people can avoid such scams? there is something for tenants associations where you can see open cases against the landlords or agencies..
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Old 24.03.2020, 18:48
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

Get a couple of comparison quotes from reputable firms. Don't mention your circumstances but just give them an overview of the work the first firm undertook and ask for an estimate or even just ask for their fee schedules (without giving them too much work



Ask for details of this firm's professional governing bodies and tell them you will be sending a complete package to the ethics committee for their review
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Old 24.03.2020, 20:03
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Re: I got scammed by a tax/accounting firm in Nyon

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Yes, he doesn't HAVE to tell his employer, but the best counter to blackmail is to inform the person to whom the information might be given. If they learn of this from him first, rather than the accounting firm, they'll likely be sympathetic. If the firm does then pass this on, he will have evidence to use against them.
What has his employer got to do with this? Why would he need them to by 'sympathetic'?

It's just a threat from this ethically dubious tax company to get him to do what they want him to do. It's absolutely none of his employers business and there is absolutely no reason for him to tell them.
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