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Old 20.08.2019, 21:56
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Received a late invoice

I have today received an invoice from the school my child left in June 2018. I wrote after the child left and asked if I owned any outstanding money and the finance officer wrote to me stating clearly that there were no outstanding amounts owed.

The invoice relates to a charge for pupils from outside the canton that the school say they had overlooked.

What, if any right do I have not to pay this - being that the school put in writing that I owed nothing?

Thank you in advance.
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Old 20.08.2019, 21:59
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Re: Received a late invoice

I believe the school has 5 years in which to invoice you for services provided. It's likely you need to pay.
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Old 20.08.2019, 22:09
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Re: Received a late invoice

You could try writing to the school, and attaching a copy of the letter saying you owe nothing more. Something along these lines:

I refer to your invoice of DATE in the amount of FRANCS, which I believe has been sent to me in error.

I attach the letter of DATE, by your Finance Officer Mr/Ms NAME, which sets out that there are no further amounts owed by me to SCHOOL.

As that letter is binding, I hereby return your invoice to you.

Yours sincerely


Keep copies of everything, including the invoice. Wait and see what happens.

Decide for yourself whether the amount is significant and worth doing battle over. Even though you try such a letter, you might inwardly decide just to pay it, if that might cost you less work in the long run.
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Old 20.08.2019, 22:23
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Re: Received a late invoice

Also decide whether the charge is in fact reasonable. If it is, then you need to decide whether you're the kind of person who profits from legal technicalities*.




*The fact that they might is irrelevant. You're better than them.
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Old 20.08.2019, 23:03
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Re: Received a late invoice

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I have today received an invoice from the school my child left in June 2018. I wrote after the child left and asked if I owned any outstanding money and the finance officer wrote to me stating clearly that there were no outstanding amounts owed.

The invoice relates to a charge for pupils from outside the canton that the school say they had overlooked.

What, if any right do I have not to pay this - being that the school put in writing that I owed nothing?

Thank you in advance.
Is the bill incorrect? Have you already paid the charge for that year? You may get away on a technicality, but it will come at a price, refusing to pay a community bill will not be seen in a good light for any C permit or citizenship application later in case you’re planning to stick around.
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Old 20.08.2019, 23:44
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Re: Received a late invoice

If my English serves that letter from last year is useless. What hasn't been billed for isn't outstanding, the recent charge bill is out of that letter's scope.

Last edited by Urs Max; 21.08.2019 at 01:07. Reason: Bill, not charge
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Old 21.08.2019, 00:49
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Re: Received a late invoice

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If my English serves that letter from last year is useless. What hasn't been billed for isn't outstanding, the recent charge is out of that letter's scope.
I don't think it's a recent charge. It is a charge that relates to when the child was there, but that they forgot to bill.

I was once in a similar situation (though less legally strong). I saw a doctor, and she sent me a bill which I paid promptly. About three years later, I received a bill for a bit extra for the same service (not for additional, as yet unbilled services).

I wrote back, with a copy of the original bill I had received, and proof of payment.

Her accountant then wrote to me explaining that, for the time that she had seen me, she had used the wrong Tax Point (a set amount, per service, agreed between the government, the medical insurers and the medical service providers) and had thereby undercharged me.

I asked an accountant what I should do. He advised me to write a letter something along the lines I suggested in Post 3 above, which is what I did. The doctor's accountants then wrote back to say that since the error had been the doctor's, the belated extra amount billed to me would be cancelled, and I owed her nothing.

I am all for paying what is due, and I don't believe there is any merit or correctness in trying to get out of paying what one owes, and I say so, often. Yet in that particular case it seemed petty to me that they were asking for that extra little bit, years later. Besides that, the doctor had been of no help - she had said so herself - and I suppose that's why I felt doubly stung.

Since this was all within the 5 years I expect that, had the doctor's accountants pushed the matter, they could have demanded that extra amount from me. And I would have given in and paid.

There's the legal issue, the moral one and the practical. Even when one is in the right, sometimes it's not worth the effort of the squabble. Sometimes it's a challenge to balance the opposing pulls at one's pocket, one's heart and one's mind. I agree with NotAllThere... where possible, be the better person.
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Old 21.08.2019, 10:35
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Re: Received a late invoice

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If my English serves that letter from last year is useless. What hasn't been billed for isn't outstanding, the recent charge bill is out of that letter's scope.

Urs - I am not quite with you.
The finance director wrote Feb 2019 "Gerne bestätige ich Ihnen, dass Ihre Zahlung bei uns eingetroffen ist und die Ausstände somit beglichen sind."
And in July the bill for 3'000 arrived - as it is due 4 x a year, half of it relates to 2017 - so 4 times they forgot to bill it and then in the final bill for outstanding amounts, they forgot again. It is not a piddling amount - it is like a whole new school year.


Doropfiz - I will try that, thank you.


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Old 21.08.2019, 11:02
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Re: Received a late invoice

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"Gerne bestätige ich Ihnen, dass Ihre Zahlung bei uns eingetroffen ist und die Ausstände somit beglichen sind."
Which means nothing more that any overdue payments (Ausstände) at time of writing have been paid. It does not say anything about the future or if there is still a debt (Ansprüche).

An all clear would have been:
"Gerne bestätige ich Ihnen, dass Ihre Zahlung bei uns eingetroffen ist und damit alle gegenseitigen Ansprüche abgegolten sind"
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Old 21.08.2019, 19:33
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Re: Received a late invoice

for me the original letter was referring to the original outstanding bill that you paid and they confirmed payment for through that very letter.

Besides, even if they wrote that "you never have to pay anything to us ever again", I wouldn't count on it having legal value.
In that case I would try getting out of it using something like doropfiz's format, but if the letter you got says "Gerne bestätige ich Ihnen, dass Ihre Zahlung bei uns eingetroffen ist und die Ausstände somit beglichen sind." and you know for a fact that you owe that money according to the rules you knew of at the time, I'm not sure it's even worth trying, for 3k CHF they're unlikely to apply "Kulanz" just because they're late.
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Old 04.09.2019, 13:01
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Re: Received a late invoice

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You could try writing to the school, and attaching a copy of the letter saying you owe nothing more. Something along these lines:I refer to your invoice of DATE in the amount of FRANCS, which I believe has been sent to me in error.
I would just like to thank you Doropfiz. I took your advice and wrote in the format you suggested adding in correspondence and dates.

Today the school replied to say they accept they made an error in not charging me earlier and that it was their error that they believed my village to be within the Canton of Bern.

I do not have to pay the invoice and this is a huge relief to me.
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Old 24.04.2020, 18:37
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Re: Received a late invoice

This is a late bill or, worse, a late duplicate bill, one which had already been paid.

I received a "reminder" today for a bill I paid to a garage over two and a half years ago. It was for the not insignificant amount of 1000CHf, being the excess premium for an accident repair, for which the insurance company paid the rest direct to the garage.

It goes so long back, that the original payment I made is not visible in the normal e-banking function that my bank (UBS) provides. That limit is 24 months. Fortunately, all statements land as PDF documents in what the call their online "safe" so I could haul it out and send an extract to the garage.

The garage has, in the meantime, actually within an hour of receiving my email, issued a apology.

I can well believe that, with the current situation and businesses feeling the pressure, there will be a temptation to go back over the books to see if anything more can be squeezed of them to keep them solvent a bit longer. Also, not all customers will be systematic enough with their record keeping to easily fend off such claims.

Apparently, a business can go back over 5 years and produce an old bill, alleging it has not been paid. I just now wonder whether, in such a case, it is better to simply say the bill has been paid without giving more details other than the payment date, then wait to see if they start the Betreibung process. At that stage, produce the evidence of payment for the court. This would make any systematic abuse of non-payment allegations transparent and maybe protect others.
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Old 25.04.2020, 10:48
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Re: Received a late invoice

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...then wait to see if they start the Betreibung process. At that stage, produce the evidence of payment for the court. This would make any systematic abuse of non-payment allegations transparent and maybe protect others.
On the other hand, judges really dislike this kind of behaviour. It's a waste of court time since you could have sorted it out a lot earlier.
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Old 25.04.2020, 12:32
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Re: Received a late invoice

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On the other hand, judges really dislike this kind of behaviour. It's a waste of court time since you could have sorted it out a lot earlier.
I think you've missed the point. The objective of giving only the date bill was paid (and some people may not even be able to do that) then waiting to produce evidence, if required by a Betreibung (court process), is to protect others, not to mischievously prolong some bureaucratic process.

If a company has such a shambolic administration that they can claim to notice allegedly unpaid bills only after two and a half years, then any claims that they can accurately identify the non payments has to be treated with some skepticism.

It would be good if the court knew that if company X is pursuing client Y for an ancient and allegedly non paid bill (which client Y can no longer show that it had already been paid), that company X had also pursued client Z for an ancient unpaid bill and that client Z could provide clear evidence that the bill had already been paid. This situation would make it clear that company X is either systematically resurrecting old bills in the hope they are paid again, or has such a hopeless administration that claims of non-payment cannot be relied upon.


Incidentally, this has happened to me several times before:

1. The nursing home send the final bill for my father in law's stay there again, even long after the original had been paid. A poor administration there is inexcusable.

2. A small builder supplied some wrought iron work as part of a project and complained to the architect that I had not paid his bill. I sent both the builder and the architect proof of payment and received a profuse apology from the builder by telephone. He was just hopeless with administration.

3. Long after I had cancelled all my accounts with Cablecom, they used a direct debit facility (which I did not cancel) to extract a "normal" monthly bill. My bank backed out the direct debit on my request. At that time Cablecom had a notoriously bad administration and had probably activated some emergency billing system based on historical usage.
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Old 25.04.2020, 13:25
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Re: Received a late invoice

No, I've not missed the point. If you have proof - provide it and the debt claim goes away. Don't **** about.

If you think that there are a significant number of companies that deliberately set out to defraud their customers, then you are welcome to your tin hat and paranoid delusions. I prefer to live in my pretty rose-tinted universe - which also happens to be the one where the majority of conspiracies can be explained by simple incompetance.
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Old 25.04.2020, 13:56
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Re: Received a late invoice

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This is a late bill or, worse, a late duplicate bill, one which had already been paid.

I can well believe that, with the current situation and businesses feeling the pressure, there will be a temptation to go back over the books to see if anything more can be squeezed of them to keep them solvent a bit longer. Also, not all customers will be systematic enough with their record keeping to easily fend off such claims.

So it is more likely that companies are committing fraud than it is to consider that while businesses are quiet they are taking the opportunity to clean up and reconcile their accounts and accounting systems. I don't think so!
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Old 26.04.2020, 13:47
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Re: Received a late invoice

Really? You don't have to be a paranoid, tin foil hat wearing delusion sufferer to believe that fraudulent bills can be issued.
For example, if you make a registration entry with a Swiss kantonal "Handelsregister", you are explicitly warned that you may receive fraudulent bills purporting to be the registration fee for that entry.
As to whether it is a significant number, I don't know, but for me a significant number is one, especially if it is for SFR 1'000. Whether this particular case was fraudulent or a genuine error, I can not tell. To an individual who cannot, after such a long elapsed time, prove that they had already made the payment, it would hardly make any difference. But this: if a business cannot seem to be able to match up a payment on their bank statement between the date of issue of the bill and deadline for payment (30 days later), for that corresponding bill, then some suspicion is not out of place.
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Old 26.04.2020, 17:40
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Re: Received a late invoice

For those who still pay in cash at the post office such fishing for victims either through incompetence or venality poses a terrible threat. I had a tenant who was finally evicted by court order after 6 months of nonpayment of rent. He hadn’t paid utilities either but I suppose they can’t come after me. Trouble was I was on Coronavirus confinement in England by the time the agents felt they could go back in (he had vacated months ago but they just got the keys back). I can envisage collection letters coming to my address that I won’t see until lockdown has ended and it’s safe for me as an octogenarian to go home. (Meanwhile sickness insurance bills keep getting paid of course, pure profit for Assura.)
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Old 27.04.2020, 09:53
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Re: Received a late invoice

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For those who still pay in cash at the post office such fishing for victims either through incompetence or venality poses a terrible threat. . . .
This is exactly what I had in mind. This is how my wife organises her own personal payments and is not very administratively minded (the main bill paying is delegated to me) so fending off an unwarranted bill could be a nightmare.
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Old 27.04.2020, 10:26
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Re: Received a late invoice

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Really? You don't have to be a paranoid, tin foil hat wearing delusion sufferer to believe that fraudulent bills can be issued.
For example, if you make a registration entry with a Swiss kantonal "Handelsregister", you are explicitly warned that you may receive fraudulent bills purporting to be the registration fee for that entry.
As to whether it is a significant number, I don't know, but for me a significant number is one, especially if it is for SFR 1'000. Whether this particular case was fraudulent or a genuine error, I can not tell. To an individual who cannot, after such a long elapsed time, prove that they had already made the payment, it would hardly make any difference. But this: if a business cannot seem to be able to match up a payment on their bank statement between the date of issue of the bill and deadline for payment (30 days later), for that corresponding bill, then some suspicion is not out of place.

Did you try asking them how they made such an error and why it has only come to light now. Ask them for an explanation before deciding it is fraud. Fact of life many small businesses are awful at bookkeeping but it doesn't make them crooks
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