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Old 21.10.2017, 10:48
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Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

Hello kind people

I really need your help!!

I signed up for a cleaning company in March 2017 to come once a fortnight for 3 hours. The deal was, they do paper work and send a regular cleaner. They provide cover if she is away. It seemed too good to be true!

The first cleaner came twice and quit. They didn't send a replacement for the 3rd meeting - no show (but did send a bill that they then agreed to cancel). We then had a "regular" cleaner for whom they arranged a replacement when she was ill, 2 different replacements when she took vacation. And then at the end of August another no-show. They called after the cleaning should have finished to reschedule and I offered 2 days. They said they would confirm. No call. No cleaner.

And then I had to pop out of Switz for a family crisis. My husband refused (rightly) to sit at home on the 80% her coming. I considered that they had broken the terms of contract.

I emailed with a weeks' notice to say politely (perhaps my mistake) that I would not be home for the next appointment and I wanted to cancel the contract as soon as possible.

2 weeks later i got a message saying that they would not accept the cancelation as it was not by recorded delivery letter and that if I did not pay bill September for YCHF they would start legal proceedings. I had not received the bill and couldn't get to their total for notification period...

Then they offered to terminate the contract if I paid 12 hours of cleaning for which they would send a cleaner, but couldn't do any of the dates we suggested. I took the offer to mean they had accepted the cancellation.

Yesterday, they emailed to say the contract is still open and they will continue to charge me until the recorded delivery letter arrives and if I do not pay bill September and October by 13 October they are going to take legal action.

But september's bill was written on 16 Sept, for the full month of cleaning and they added a 10 chf rappel charge, despite the bill not being due.

October is written mid month, has a 20 chf rappel fee.

And I got an email yesterday saying they can do this because of a clause in the contract. I don't remember this clause and can it be legal? Apparently, they can choose when they come and if I can't host, I pay. They can change the amount of the bill, I have to pay.

Is there anyone out there who has an understanding of the legal system and can add some advice for me and anyone else considering these contracts? What should people be looking out for in these contracts? I am sending the recorded delivery letter now, is there anything I should include (other than, the fact that I informed them at the beginning of September and their service is substandard!)?

Thank you so much!!!
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Old 21.10.2017, 10:51
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

Send them the cancellation letter by recorded delivery - and 'A' post TODAY...
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Old 21.10.2017, 11:03
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

Make it clear in the letter than the termination date is ?? and that you will not pay for cleaning that wasn't done in September and October. Also check your contract for the clause they're citing.
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Old 21.10.2017, 11:56
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

Read your contract for what's arranged on appointments, we don't know, it is you who has the answer on paper, and:

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Then they offered to terminate the contract if I paid 12 hours of cleaning for which they would send a cleaner, but couldn't do any of the dates we suggested. I took the offer to mean they had accepted the cancellation.
I read nowhere that you accepted this offer that they made after they informed you that you cancelled in a non-agreed way which they would not accept, so you either had to accept this offer or cancel with a proper method.

I'm not saying it's all polite what they do, but impolite and legally incorrect are often different things.

Last edited by EdwinNL; 21.10.2017 at 12:21.
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Old 21.10.2017, 12:17
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

Not sure why you have to be home when the cleaner comes...
we use professional cleaners and they have a fixed time, permanent cleaner, and they have a key...
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Old 21.10.2017, 12:25
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Good point.
We did agree that they could send a cleaner for the hours of the notification period. Then they doubled the notification period. And then they said they could not come when we suggested even though this was our usual slot. To be fair to them, we made the suggestion 2 days before the slot was due, but given they are now charging us for that surely the cleaner should have been available? They gave the impression they had accepted notification of cancelation by email, which I now realise was quite carefully worded (i.e. in order to terminate the contract we require...) We assumed meeting the stated requirements was enough but clearly not. They take 2 weeks to answer an email. I now understand why...
I understand everyone has to make a living and I can see we tried to cancel by email rather than recorded delivery and this was not acceptable. However, we had an extremely difficult family situation (won't go into the details) and recorded delivery was not an option. Clearly the company doesn't cut any slack.
What I need to know is, it is legal to write a bill in advance of a service and add a rappel fee before it is sent out?
I think it would also be helpful to other people to be aware of potential issues with this type of service.

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Not sure why you have to be home when the cleaner comes...
we use professional cleaners and they have a fixed time, permanent cleaner, and they have a key...
They wouldn't take the key. Apparently a cleaner cannot work alone in your house if you are not there (Swiss labour law?). It was news to me too.

Still, key or no key, they should turn up as requested!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 21.10.2017 at 13:34. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 21.10.2017, 12:37
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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Good point.
We did agree that they could send a cleaner for the hours of the notification period. Then they doubled the notification period. And then they said they could not come when we suggested even though this was our usual slot. To be fair to them, we made the suggestion 2 days before the slot was due, but given they are now charging us for that surely the cleaner should have been available? They gave the impression they had accepted notification of cancelation by email, which I now realise was quite carefully worded (i.e. in order to terminate the contract we require...) We assumed meeting the stated requirements was enough but clearly not. They take 2 weeks to answer an email. I now understand why...
I understand everyone has to make a living and I can see we tried to cancel by email rather than recorded delivery and this was not acceptable. However, we had an extremely difficult family situation (won't go into the details) and recorded delivery was not an option. Clearly the company doesn't cut any slack.
What I need to know is, it is legal to write a bill in advance of a service and add a rappel fee before it is sent out?
I think it would also be helpful to other people to be aware of potential issues with this type of service.
A rappel fee is allowed when the bill is paid to late according to the terms agreed on, if there's an agreement to pay upfront, during or after service makes no difference. If they don't send a bill you cannot pay it and a fee is illegal.
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Old 21.10.2017, 12:50
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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Good point.
We did agree that they could send a cleaner for the hours of the notification period. Then they doubled the notification period. And then they said they could not come when we suggested even though this was our usual slot. To be fair to them, we made the suggestion 2 days before the slot was due, but given they are now charging us for that surely the cleaner should have been available? They gave the impression they had accepted notification of cancelation by email, which I now realise was quite carefully worded (i.e. in order to terminate the contract we require...) We assumed meeting the stated requirements was enough but clearly not. They take 2 weeks to answer an email. I now understand why...
I understand everyone has to make a living and I can see we tried to cancel by email rather than recorded delivery and this was not acceptable. However, we had an extremely difficult family situation (won't go into the details) and recorded delivery was not an option. Clearly the company doesn't cut any slack.
What I need to know is, it is legal to write a bill in advance of a service and add a rappel fee before it is sent out?
I think it would also be helpful to other people to be aware of potential issues with this type of service.
Which company? I know two that are really good and one that you dont touch
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Old 21.10.2017, 17:15
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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They wouldn't take the key. Apparently a cleaner cannot work alone in your house if you are not there (Swiss labour law?). It was news to me too.

Still, key or no key, they should turn up as requested!
Sounds like your cleaning company is making it up as they go along.

I don't know anyone who has to be home when their cleaner comes. On the odd occasion our cleaner has turned up before I've left the house she is positively jangling with a load of keys on her fob for all the people she cleans for.

The "labour law" they are quoting you might be their speak for "we're not insured". Are you paying them via bank transfer or cash?

Just do whatever you have to do to get rid of them, contest the bill if you think you have a case but start getting recommendations for a new company. I've never hired a cleaner unless I've first got a recommendation, it seems to have saved me a heap of hassle in the long run.
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Old 21.10.2017, 21:06
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Which company? I know two that are really good and one that you dont touch
I don't want to name them as I am afraid of what will come next... They are based near Lausanne.

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S Are you paying them via bank transfer or cash?
We pay by bank transfer (thankfully I have a record!)

It seems we have no choice but to pay for their fees and just hope they stop sending bills. I suspect even with a recorded delivery letter, they will find a loop hole.

Honestly makes me lose faith in human nature as the company knew we had a terrible situation on our hands, let us down by not providing a service we had agreed on and put us through even more stress.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 22.10.2017 at 10:58. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 21.10.2017, 21:46
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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I understand everyone has to make a living and I can see we tried to cancel by email rather than recorded delivery and this was not acceptable.
It's only not acceptable if it was written in the contract that the cancellation has to be made by registered letter. It probably is, and then it's your fault for not sticking to the contract. Otherwise email is fine, provided they confirm they received it as email is not considered a reliable communication medium.

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However, we had an extremely difficult family situation (won't go into the details) and recorded delivery was not an option.
Oh really? You have the money to afford 30+ Fr/h cleaners for several hours a week, but can't spare 6 Fr for a registered letter? It's even only 5.50 Fr for a prepaid label
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Old 22.10.2017, 02:03
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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Oh really? You have the money to afford 30+ Fr/h cleaners for several hours a week, but can't spare 6 Fr for a registered letter? It's even only 5.50 Fr for a prepaid label
OP didn't say the cost was the problem.
No time to get to post office?
Was the OP even in Switzerland?
Sometimes life gets pretty messy and even the simple things become impossible to fit in.
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Old 22.10.2017, 02:23
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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No time to get to post office?
Was the OP even in Switzerland?
She clearly said husband was at home at least 20% of the time

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OP didn't say the cost was the problem.
If cost is not a problem, just pay what they're asking to settle it and stop bothering everyone about this problem that you probably got yourself into by not understanding or not respecting the contract and hoping for some kind of pussy pass now
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Old 22.10.2017, 07:54
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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stop bothering everyone about this problem that you probably got yourself into by not understanding or not respecting the contract and hoping for some kind of pussy pass now
I fail to see how everyone is bothered by a forum post which they have the option of reading or not.

Man, some of you people get emotional over the silliest things.
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Old 22.10.2017, 08:21
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

Surely the point of recorded delivery is to ensure it gets there. Yet have they not acknowledged receipt of cancellation by stating they will not accept the letter you sent?!
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Old 22.10.2017, 10:33
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

Please only give advise not judgement!
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Old 22.10.2017, 12:22
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

This is a forum - you'll get both.
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Old 22.10.2017, 13:07
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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Surely the point of recorded delivery is to ensure it gets there. Yet have they not acknowledged receipt of cancellation by stating they will not accept the letter you sent?!
No. The point of recorded delivery cancellation (usual here for contracts) is to make cancelling as difficult as possible and add to the bottom line. It worked a charm with the OP...
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Old 22.10.2017, 13:13
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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OP didn't say the cost was the problem.
No time to get to post office?
Was the OP even in Switzerland?
Sometimes life gets pretty messy and even the simple things become impossible to fit in.
Rubbish, a registered letter can be sent from anywhere in the world!

Tom
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Old 22.10.2017, 14:10
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Re: Cleaning Companies and contracts - beware!

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2 weeks later i got a message saying that they would not accept the cancelation as it was not by recorded delivery letter and that if I did not pay bill September for YCHF they would start legal proceedings. I had not received the bill and couldn't get to their total for notification period...
the company has acknowledged that it has received your cancellation.
is it by law allowed to ask for a cancellation by registered mail only?
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