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Old 24.06.2008, 11:07
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Car loan - repayment penalties

In need of help:

I took out a car loan with Alphera/Alphabet to purchase a car several months back. At the time, I was told by the Alphera financing/sales agent that there would be no penalty for early repayment of the loan. I do not yet speak deutsche and the Alphera representative knew this. The contract was in deutsche.

A few months later I reshuffled some finances and was able to unexpectedly pay off the car loan in late April. The loan was 26,000chf. I was told that 1,600chf would be assessed as a penalty for early repayment. When I explained what I had been told and tried to escalate to speak to a manager, I was told I would have to wait 21 days until he returned from holiday. I protested that this was not professional, making more than one call, to no success.

Two months have passed, I have spoken to this well-rested manager back from holiday and though he has offered to reduce the fee to 800chf, I still feel like I am being raped. He cites a line (in deutsche - i know, my fault, I'm trying to learn the language as fast as possible while holding down my job) in the contract that vaguely states that fees may be assessed for early repayment (contrary to what I was told by the Alphera agent who signed my business for Alphera). However, no mention of fixed/variable fees are mentioned, percentages, timeframes, etc. Under this logic, Alphera could say I owe them 10,000chf in fees or whatever amount they wished. Therefore, I find fault with it being a sound basis for taking my money.

Below is the best breakdown of cost Alphera has emailed me to justify 800chf... mind you no clear amounts are provided:
"The calculation is based upon the following criteria:
- Costs for credit check and contract preparation
- Funding for the entire duration refinanced
- Fixed term is agreed, loss of future earnings
- Contract termination in the case KKG would much higher
- Processing fees for manual invoice creation & other expenses (see other mails)
- Expenditures in the accounts (man. contract closing & payment update)
- Phone calls with several departments und with you"

In the US there is something called "Small Claims Court" where anybody can bring matters up to 2,000 USD, without lawyers. Is there anything similar in Switzerland?

Does anybody have a smart Swiss friend who would know how to refute this grey-area-logic?

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Old 24.06.2008, 11:16
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Re: Car loan - repayment penalties

My take on this (and I am sure that others will be quick to correct me if I am wrong), that you should have had your original document explained to you by a german speaker before you signed it. Verbal agreements (such as what the agent may have told you) are often explicitly excluded from agreements because you end up in a "I said - he said" scenario such as the one you are in now.

Early repayment of leasing agreements often incur extra charges and, as such, the fact that you are being charged is not necessarily unusual. The original amount sounded a bit steep, the revised amount is starting to look sensible.
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alphabet, alphera, auto, car, fees, financing, leasing, loan, penalties, penalty

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