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Old 05.01.2012, 17:02
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Hauswart scam?

What is your opinion for this?
We had a sink blockage the other day and after dismountling and cleaning the pipes (and verifying that it was nothing we could do about since the blockage was in the common pipe of the building) we called the hauswart. He sent someone straight away who indeed cleared the blockage.
This "guy" had only a sticker saying blockage service and a phone number to present himself and charged us 150 CHF saying that it would cost 170 CHF if we wanted a proper invoice. When we asked for the second option he refused he went a bit nutsand asked for cash in hand. During the negotiation he was backed by the hauswart who kept saying that things work like this in Switzerland so we had to give up. I found this very unusual, especially since the hauswart kept saying that he did not understand why we needed a proper invoice when we could save 20 CHF.
WHat do you think and in case to whom shall I report this? The owner is a big real estate company and I already complained about past issues but the only reply was: please report to the hauswart.
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:08
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Re: Hauswart scam?

First of all, normally tenants only pay for repairs below a certain level, which is probably Fr 150 in your canton.

Did you get the receipt? Then send it to the building management, they should reimburse you 100%.

Yes I would discuss your Hauswart's behaviour with the property company, he is aiding a man working on the black economy. If they have no interest, talk to the tax people.
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:11
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Re: Hauswart scam?

Thanks a lot for the info, I will try to report to the owner but I know already he will do nothing about it.
The receipt/invoice is what we asked for but the guy first said it would cost us 20 CHF and then refused to provide us one!
This is what I don't understand!
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:15
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Re: Hauswart scam?

Invoices for all repairs (that you don't order yourself) go to the landlord - and according to your contract heshethey send you an invoice for your contracted amount.
I imagine the repairman was a friend of the Hauswart.

Any work done without a receipt (with name and address) is SCHWARZARBEIT and thus makes any further developments void. (Guarantee, complaints, etc).
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:18
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Re: Hauswart scam?

Ask your Hauswart for the address of the Swiss tax office which is responsible for chasing "Schwarzarbeiter" You really need a legal receipt to claim the money from your employer.

He might also be claiming government assistance, and working too.
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:19
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Re: Hauswart scam?

It's also tax evasion. He doesn't want to give an official invoice so that the work is "off the books". It is absolutely NOT the way things are done in Switzerland.
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:23
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Re: Hauswart scam?

Thanks for the info, this confirms what I already suspected.
Will the Swiss tax office request an official statement from me or will just use the info.
I don't want to have any legal problem, nor social as the hauswart seems to be very powerful!
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:27
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Re: Hauswart scam?

If you have the drain cleaner's phone number, you could go to the police and make a short statement, explaining that the Hauswart was a witness.
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:28
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Re: Hauswart scam?

I don't see the problem.

Just don't pay anything until you receive a proper invoice.

I think it is quite common for Hauswart's here to use a "mate" to do work and then have a share of the fee.
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:36
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Re: Hauswart scam?

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I don't see the problem.

Just don't pay anything until you receive a proper invoice.

I think it is quite common for Hauswart's here to use a "mate" to do work and then have a share of the fee.
I understand he demanded cash on the spot.
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Old 05.01.2012, 17:59
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Re: Hauswart scam?

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he was backed by the hauswart who kept saying that things work like this in Switzerland so we had to give up.
They are lying. They want to work tax-free, which is fine for them but if you want a bill, just keep repeating the word Rechnung as long as it takes. Smiling at the same time makes them go mad. Call that psychological war.
That being said, if they league against you with the blessing of your régie, you're doomed, having to get to the higher guy in order to sort it out behind their backs. They won't love you after that.
But I would still refuse to pay any plumbing without a bill. If it goes wrong, it's an insurance problem, and then the bill will come handy.
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Old 05.01.2012, 18:39
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Re: Hauswart scam?

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I don't see the problem.

Just don't pay anything until you receive a proper invoice.

I think it is quite common for Hauswart's here to use a "mate" to do work and then have a share of the fee.
I'm sure it happens all the time. But when someone is not interested in playing his game, then an invoice should be issued without complaint from the service provider. I know my DH would not stand for this type of thing.

And really, it's not right that the OP should be bullied and told "that's the way it's done", because this behavior is the exception, not the rule in Switzerland.
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Old 05.01.2012, 18:42
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Re: Hauswart scam?

For any kind of repair, people here never ever expect to be paid on the spot, they always send an invoice though the mail. Something is definitely wrong with what happened to you.
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Old 05.01.2012, 18:45
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Re: Hauswart scam?

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For any kind of repair, people her never ever expect to be paid on the spot, they always send an invoice though the mail. Something is definitely wrong with what happened to you.
Agreed. I never had to pay anything on the spot, they always send the bill on the post. That sounds very fishy.
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Old 05.01.2012, 18:45
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Re: Hauswart scam?

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I'm sure it happens all the time. But when someone is not interested in playing his game, then an invoice should be issued without complaint from the service provider. I know my DH would not stand for this type of thing.

And really, it's not right that the OP should be bullied and told "that's the way it's done", because this behavior is the exception, not the rule in Switzerland.
Agreed. I didn't realise the OP had paid up. I wouldn't have, unless I got the invoice.

If something went wrong afterwards, and with no official invoice, the 'plumber' is hardly going to own up, is he?
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Old 05.01.2012, 19:05
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Re: Hauswart scam?

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Agreed. I didn't realise the OP had paid up. I wouldn't have, unless I got the invoice.

If something went wrong afterwards, and with no official invoice, the 'plumber' is hardly going to own up, is he?
It is to late for this time, but next time ask the plumber before he start the work ."What about the billing procedure " .And then ask him to send the bill to the real estate comp.
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Old 05.01.2012, 21:58
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Re: Hauswart scam?

"the blockage was in the common pipe of the building"

This makes it not your responsibility anyway.
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Old 05.01.2012, 22:16
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Re: Hauswart scam?

Thanks everyone for the support and advice. I know that I should have not paid without a proper receipt, however the situation was getting quite unpleasant and we could not sustain this anymore. The "plumber" refused to leave the apartment without the payment and the Hauswart was quite nasty to us. We did not want the situation to get even worse, as the plumber was not the kind of person that you would invite for a coffee and especially since we have a young child. We were clearly scammed and I am sure that the hauswart had his part of money.
I wonder to whom shall I report this.

FYI the Hauswart is a real dictator of the building. For example he has the key of the laundry room and refuses to give it to certain users (me for example) saying that we leave it dirty. I talked to neighbours and this commonly happened to them so that the majority has a washing machine at home. I suspect that an illegal laundry service business has been organized at our expenses. We reported to the landlord but the reply has always been: there is an Hauswart, talk to him.
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Old 05.01.2012, 22:26
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Re: Hauswart scam?

Sounds like you should join the Basel renters association and make sure you have/or take their legal insurance in case things take a turn for the worse in the future.

Unfortunately I have to say it sounds like a dire situation. If your husband isn't going to have it out with him then you may as well start looking for somewhere else. Rather that than live under duress, in my opinion anyway.

If you do leave, make sure the landlords know it's due to the hauswart.

Last edited by 17clarence; 05.01.2012 at 22:26. Reason: typo
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Old 05.01.2012, 22:27
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Re: Hauswart scam?

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The "plumber" refused to leave the apartment without the payment and the Hauswart was quite nasty to us.
I would have called the police and ask them on the phone, in front of the plumber, what to do in your situation.
- Hello, police station? I have a plumber in my house, called by the Hauswart who wants cash payment without receipt... what is the right thing to do as far as law is concerned?

It's a really nasty situation, the Hauswart being already over the top nasty, you have nothing to loose.
Look for another place to live.
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