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Old 15.06.2012, 18:30
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Betreibungs

Hello fellow Swiss Entrepreneurs,

I am a fairly new online retailer and am seeking advice on collecting money for goods delivered. I started my online retailing business in January and have only just now had my first "non-payment" of goods. Actually, I don't know if this is normal or abnormal. I have heard that the Swiss are very "honorable" about paying for goods via "Rechnung." As a small business, I wanted to give my customers options for paying for their goods. At the moment, I only have Paypal as an alternative payment method. I hope to change that by year end.

I am looking for advice on anyone who has had experience with filing "Betreibungs" or dealing with non-paying customers. I also would like to hear from other retailing on-line businesses as to our "rights" in Switzerland for potentially "sharing" information about non-paying clients. (ie. a sort of bad list) Perhaps this is a no-no, but it would be good to have clarity over what could be done to prevent others from having the same customer buy goods and not pay.

On the whole, I have not had too many issues although most clients DO NOT pay when the goods are due. I almost always have to send an email or a Mahnung letter 1. I ask my clients to pay for their good by the 10th day after purchase. Maybe this is to unrealistic?

I would great appreciate input from those who have on-line retailing experience here.

Cheers, Shannon
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Old 15.06.2012, 18:34
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Re: Betreibungs

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Hello fellow Swiss Entrepreneurs,

I am a fairly new online retailer and am seeking advice on collecting money for goods delivered. I started my online retailing business in January and have only just now had my first "non-payment" of goods. Actually, I don't know if this is normal or abnormal. I have heard that the Swiss are very "honorable" about paying for goods via "Rechnung." As a small business, I wanted to give my customers options for paying for their goods. At the moment, I only have Paypal as an alternative payment method. I hope to change that by year end.

I am looking for advice on anyone who has had experience with filing "Betreibungs" or dealing with non-paying customers. I also would like to hear from other retailing on-line businesses as to our "rights" in Switzerland for potentially "sharing" information about non-paying clients. (ie. a sort of bad list) Perhaps this is a no-no, but it would be good to have clarity over what could be done to prevent others from having the same customer buy goods and not pay.

On the whole, I have not had too many issues although most clients DO NOT pay when the goods are due. I almost always have to send an email or a Mahnung letter 1. I ask my clients to pay for their good by the 10th day after purchase. Maybe this is to unrealistic?

I would great appreciate input from those who have on-line retailing experience here.

Cheers, Shannon

What I've been told -no idea how valid this is, as I'm not exactly a retailer- is that the general way to handle bills is to collect them throughout the month and pay them all at once at the end, no matter the given due date. In fact, a surprising number of the people I've heard this from actually like to go to the post in person to pay these bills.

So yeah, 10 days would seem pretty unrealistic if these reports are valid.
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Old 15.06.2012, 18:41
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Re: Betreibungs

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What I've been told -no idea how valid this is, as I'm not exactly a retailer- is that the general way to handle bills is to collect them throughout the month and pay them all at once at the end, no matter the given due date. In fact, a surprising number of the people I've heard this from actually like to go to the post in person to pay these bills.

So yeah, 10 days would seem pretty unrealistic if these reports are valid.
Sums it up really - I'd rather aim for 30 days, I'm afraid. And even then most people will probably not be on time..
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Old 15.06.2012, 18:59
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Re: Betreibungs

You can demand a payment within 10 days (Ever had a parking ticket?) but usually up to 30 days is permitted, and another 10 before a Mahnung is sent.

Why not use PayPal, or ask for a bank transfer in advance? Everyone else seems to do it that way.

You can only Betreib someone if the debt is over CHF 100 and if they live in Switzerland. If you do this you need a lot of patience!
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Old 15.06.2012, 19:23
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Re: Betreibungs

I have to agree with the others here. 10 days is expecting a bit too much. 30 days would be normal.

If this is likely to cause initial cash flow problems then you could talk with your bank about this, but having never been in that position I don't know the lie of the land with regards to that.

Normally you'd do a "Betreibung" when all other methods of getting the money have failed. Going around handing out Bretreibungen at the first hint of non payment is likely going to annoy your customers, and reduce the possibility of repeat custom, which in turn will harm your business.
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Old 15.06.2012, 19:31
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Re: Betreibungs

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Hello fellow Swiss Entrepreneurs,

I am a fairly new online retailer and am seeking advice on collecting money for goods delivered. I started my online retailing business in January and have only just now had my first "non-payment" of goods. Actually, I don't know if this is normal or abnormal. I have heard that the Swiss are very "honorable" about paying for goods via "Rechnung." As a small business, I wanted to give my customers options for paying for their goods. At the moment, I only have Paypal as an alternative payment method. I hope to change that by year end.

I am looking for advice on anyone who has had experience with filing "Betreibungs" or dealing with non-paying customers. I also would like to hear from other retailing on-line businesses as to our "rights" in Switzerland for potentially "sharing" information about non-paying clients. (ie. a sort of bad list) Perhaps this is a no-no, but it would be good to have clarity over what could be done to prevent others from having the same customer buy goods and not pay.

On the whole, I have not had too many issues although most clients DO NOT pay when the goods are due. I almost always have to send an email or a Mahnung letter 1. I ask my clients to pay for their good by the 10th day after purchase. Maybe this is to unrealistic?

I would great appreciate input from those who have on-line retailing experience here.

Cheers, Shannon
10 days ! what plenet are you from, anything upto 90 days is quite normal, however many will pay within 45 days.

EDIT I won't ever bother to give you advice if you groan, when you don't like what you hear.

Last edited by fatmanfilms; 16.06.2012 at 20:31.
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Old 15.06.2012, 20:06
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Re: Betreibungs

If you want to avoid any hassle take a leaf out of Digitec's book. They only deliver upon having received payment:
https://www.digitec.ch/SiteContentGet.aspx?ContentNr=83
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Old 15.06.2012, 20:08
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Re: Betreibungs

I think it's important to state a pay by date with whatever services you offer. I know how difficult it is for a small business, because everyone you deal with is a personal customer.

Personally, I'd like everything on the payment side to just slide over the internet. Unfortunately that's not always possible. My experience is not to leave it too long when someone stops paying. I'm not a hard woman but I've had to say on numerous occasions,"stop" no money then no attendance for your child.

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Old 16.06.2012, 20:12
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Re: Betreibungs

I do offer Paypal.
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Old 16.06.2012, 20:20
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Re: Betreibungs

I have not gone straight for a Betreibung. I followed all the procedures, thanks to the help of my German speaking husband. I initially email a very gentle reminder first. Then a letter is sent out a about 3-5 days after the initial email. Then I wait AT LEAST 10 days between each follow up letter. In total I have sent 2 emails and 3 letters spaced out about 45 days. Her payment is now over 2 1/2 month over due. So, I do not think it is unreasonable to demand payment. Neither has she responded to say she would pay on a certain date in the future, which other clients do when they know they can't pay on time.
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Old 16.06.2012, 20:24
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Re: Betreibungs

Thanks for the input. It is a delicate balance between giving a good service by allowing people to pay via the "honor" system and not being taken advantage. As a small business, it just isn't feasible to extend a significant amount of credit to people. They are receiving goods that they would have a very hard time finding in this country. As a convenience, I give them the "rechnung" option, but this isn't meant to be a credit facility that they can pay back at will. I will definitely do more research with other retailers and see if 30 days is the standard. I agree with you that if you wait too long, you have a higher likelihood that customers don't pay. I may have to resort to sending goods after payment is made.
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Old 16.06.2012, 21:19
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Re: Betreibungs

I would seriously consider changing to a payment upfront policy. I think for online retailers it is accepted that this is reasonable. I would estimate that 90% of the things I buy on the internet I pay for when I place the order.
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Old 16.06.2012, 21:54
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Re: Betreibungs

I think you should give the payment in advance a try. You are a small business and once you become bigger you can give them a 30 day credit. Or, you may want to allow them to pay half in advance and the other half in 30 days. Some online retail businesses like Ricardo in Switzerland ask for upfront payment. Do not be afraid and think that you will lose customers. If you have something they want, and you wrote that it is something they cannot usually get in Switzerland, have them pay you upfront.

Paypal is quite versatile and they also accept credit cards etc...You are running a business not a charity, and at the moment you need a cash flow. Only allow 30 days for repeat customers...Good Luck
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