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Old 25.02.2019, 20:28
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Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

Hello,

to begin with--I understand that the situation is partially my fault and I am not going to argue about it, though I do perceive it to be unfair. What I want to understand is what are the potential actions and consequences for each side:

So I had my very first appointment with a hygienist in a clinic in Zürich in April 2018. At the end of that appointment they offered me a follow-up appointment with a dentist in December 2018. I agreed and since the appointment was more than half a year ahead I asked if they will remind me about it in December. They assured me that I will be reminded by SMS and also an e-mail. So December came and a vaguely recalled that I have an appointment but of course I forgot when, so I called the clinic. They answered that at the moment their IT booking system is not available and they will call me back once it is available again. They didn't call, and I also was very busy at work so I didn't call them again either. So in January 2019 I received a bill for the missing appointment that as it was stated was 3 days after my call in December. I sent them a registered mail, where I explained the whole situation and asked to cancel the bill. I have never received the answer to my mail (but I got the notification that it was delivered), and today I got a reminder mail, not from the clinic itself, but from "Zahnärtztekasse AG" plainly stating that I missed the payment and they demand it asap, i.e. the Mahnung mail.

Now my question: should I ignore this Mahnung mail or call them again or send them another registered mail, can they still send me to the debt collectors? And if yes, which options, if any do I have to prove my version of the story and how exactly the process look like--i.e. is it a court case or some other organization? The whole question is 85 CHF, so I am pretty sure that it's not worth my nerves, yet I just feel being treated unfairly, and I wonder in principle what are my rights and how to dispute ut properly if theoretically any clinic can claim that I had missed an appointment, and so how can I prove it then that I never agreed to it? Can I also leave a negative public review e.g. in Google maps or tripadvisor?

And lesson learnt: either never agree to such far-in-the-future appointments or make sure to set several reminders.
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Old 25.02.2019, 20:47
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

Slim, this all sounds a bit too shady.

Tom
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Old 25.02.2019, 21:06
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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can they still send me to the debt collectors? And if yes, which options, if any do I have to prove my version of the story and how exactly the process look like--i.e. is it a court case or some other organization?
Anyone can issue a Betreibung/Poursuit at any time for any amount.
Like, me against you, now, over 1 Mio.

Objecting again using registered mail might help or can also be a complete waste of time and money. The Zanhärtztekasse just does the billing and does not care much above that.

If you get a Betreibung you must object (Rechtsvorschlag erheben). Then the other party can go to court. There they state that you had a contract (a verbal one) and you are obliged to pay, you state what you told us and that you missed the appointment because they did not remind you, as per same contract, by SMS nor email, and that you called them a few days before the appointment about the exact date and they were not able to help nor did they call back.

Chances to win the case? I do not know.
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Old 25.02.2019, 22:36
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

What about going in person to the clinic with a copy of your registered letter and disputing in person as well?
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Old 25.02.2019, 22:52
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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What about going in person to the clinic with a copy of your registered letter and disputing in person as well?
You don't object to the person/institute/company filing it, you object at the betriebungsamt, and going in person will only have them asking "here's a form, go home and fill it in"
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Old 25.02.2019, 23:09
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

It is a tiny amount , please just pay and save yourself from grabby people. Otherwise they will make your life hell for several months and then they will go to court.

I had a similar experience trying to dispute 800CHF extra charge for scheduled car maintenance that a dealer had scheduled themselve without ever asking me. No luck , I am a foreigner and must pay.
People are very friendly here , but not all of them are honest.
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Old 26.02.2019, 06:26
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

I'd say pay the money. The gap between your feeling that it is unfair and their claim that you missed a booked appintment is perhaps to do with the Swiss concept of time and time -keeping, and how it differs from yours and that of your cultural background.

Here, if you agree to an appointment, even one in a year's time, it is taken as given that, before doing so, you have consulted your diary, checked that the appointment time will work for you and then recorded it in said diary, which you consult several times a day, on an ongoing basis. You bound yourself when you made the appointment and it is therfore seen as following that you would necessarily would know when it was. Since that's the assumption, it is thought that you would see the appointment there in your diary, one month before, three weeks before and so on as a count-down.

Reminders are considered a nice gesture, but just an added extra, and they are not perceived as the facilitator or binding agent of the contract. They are seen not as the signature confirming the deal (that deal having been made instantly as you agreed, well in advance, to the appointment) but rather as an extra trapping, like flowers in the waiting-room.
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Old 26.02.2019, 07:11
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

Pay it but then send a registered letter requesting your file and tell them you will not be using them again and look for another dentist. They just lost a customer!
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Old 26.02.2019, 07:27
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

The rules are pretty clear - if you don't call to cancel your appointment 24 hours in advance you will pay a fee anyway. Given the circumstances, it is worth talking with them directly. I find the Swiss (people, any people) to be much more cooperant when it's a face to face discussion. Go there and explain the situation. Not shouting, not accusing people of dishonesty. Imagine that there was a mistake.

If it's worth the trouble.
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Old 26.02.2019, 07:29
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

Better still, buy yourself a diary or calendar, and write your appointments down in that. Or use the calendar app on your smartphone and program it to remind you in time.
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Old 26.02.2019, 07:31
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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Better still, buy yourself a diary or calendar, and write your appointments down in that. Or use the calendar app on your smartphone and program it to remind you in time.
That would have been my first advice but....
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Old 26.02.2019, 08:01
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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Pay it but then send a registered letter requesting your file and tell them you will not be using them again and look for another dentist. They just lost a customer!
Good advice.

P.S. IMHO, the losing a customer bit has zero effect on business in
Central Europe. People are just don't think that way around here.
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Old 26.02.2019, 08:31
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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Pay it but then send a registered letter requesting your file and tell them you will not be using them again and look for another dentist. They just lost a customer!
Why should they be at a loss just because you could not manage your appointments? It is not as if there is a shortage of customers and dead beats are not worth holding on to.
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Old 26.02.2019, 08:51
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

Since they were unable to tell you about the appointment in three days when you called, which is anything but your fault, and didn't call you back either, that bill seems quite unreasonable. The question of its legality shouldn't even arise. The problem here is that you can't prove that you called but the fact that you know of their IT issues should make it plausible enough.

Plus, the first missed appointment usually is billed for 50 only, if at all. In my limited experience it's common practice that you get handed kind of a small card with the appointment, which also mentions that you need to cancel at least xxx hours (usually 24 or 48) before the appointment, otherwise you'll be charged xyz (usually 50 for the first missed appointment). But that doesn't come into play here because of your call.

Call the practice and speak to the doc that would have treated you or the office manager, not some clerk, and have them drop the bill. Remember to mention that doing so may have you change your mind about no longer using their services and telling your friends and work colleagues good stuff about them instead of bad.
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Old 26.02.2019, 10:14
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

I have paid the bill and I plan to never deal with that practice again. Thanks also for the hints about using schedules: it's slightly off-topic but rest assured I am very well aware of the existence of such tools

And the same goes about "respecting the agreements" and the cultural differences--though I did not ask to be educated on it, I believe that your intentions were good. As for me, I am lucky to be able to afford not to plan more than a couple of days/weeks ahead and be as spontaneous as I want, even if it means not a 100% alignment with the local way of living and the "traditions". In this specific situation it wasn't me, breaking the verbal agreement and I did everything I could to confirm the second appointment. My only miss was not to put it in my schedule immediately in April, which I have acknowledged.
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Old 26.02.2019, 10:34
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

could you, er, share the name of the dentists so we know who to avoid?
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Old 26.02.2019, 11:00
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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could you, er, share the name of the dentists so we know who to avoid?
Yep. Name and shame!

But only if your story is true/correct.
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Old 26.02.2019, 11:27
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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could you, er, share the name of the dentists so we know who to avoid?
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But only if your story is true/correct.
The story is true and represents my perception and feeling otherwise I wouldn't bother to post it and ask questions.

The practice is zahnfee28.ch in Zürich.
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Old 26.02.2019, 18:50
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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You don't object to the person/institute/company filing it, you object at the betriebungsamt, and going in person will only have them asking "here's a form, go home and fill it in"
But it wasn't a betreibung (yet). It was a mahnung. Anyway I guess paying and taking business elsewhere is the quickest/easiest way to be done with it all.
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Old 26.02.2019, 19:22
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Re: Fee for a missed dentist appointment, how to dispute?

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But it wasn't a betreibung (yet). It was a mahnung. Anyway I guess paying and taking business elsewhere is the quickest/easiest way to be done with it all.
I would not pay up. I would list the events (as posted in post one but listing, short phrasing).
I would either go there personally (still good to have the listing as too much talking is not the way here) or send them this list. Ending with the question what exactly makes them think, they can charge you for the "missed" apointment.

If the story went as written (sorry OP, I'm not doubting you, just urging to check the memory well) they fecked up so biggly (to speak with Trump) that seriously they should not get through with this.

OP, if you have a problem with German, I can do the listing for you. Send me a PM if you need that.
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