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Old 22.05.2019, 18:03
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Rip-off by a house cleaning company

Hi, my husband and I had asked a cleaning company, alphaplan, to do end-of-contract clean for a one-bedroom apartment. They sent us a quote with the price 600 chf and mentioned they could finish within one day. However, we got an invoice that charges twice the amount, i.e. 1200 chf, one week later in the end. It is absolutely a rip-off for us. We were totally pissed off, not only because of such a big price rise, but also their poor service:

1. mentioned they could finish within one day when we enquired with email. But on the first day they came, they said the apartment was bigger than they thought and they need two people to do it. We asked again the price and the time they need. They mentioned the price probably would go up a bit but also might remain the same, and they could finish within one day. But in the end of that day, they called us that they couldn't finish and need us to wait three days for them to come again.
2. mentioned they would work from 8am to 5pm, but started late(around 9am) and left earlier(4:30pm). There left only the floor and a few windows unclean at the end of the first day, which means they should be able to finish everything if they work enough time as it is supposed
3. messed up our living room's floor with a lot of bread crumbs after their lunch on the first day, which made it even worse than it was before we asked them to clean
4. very defensive when we sent the email to negotiate, mentioning they would definitely ask double price if they knew the apartment was that big and that dirty. They even sent us photos to show how dirty it was. But in fact, they mentioned nothing about such a big price rise on the first day, even after we asked them. It made absolutely no sense that we made our apartment "that" dirty since we've just found our next tenant to take over our contract only a few weeks ago.

We've consulted the local authority and they told us we need a lawyer. I am really upset because there seems not even an office that we can complain. My question now is that whether it is worth the time, the effort, and the money to ask a lawyer to handle this case. We now already moved out from Switzerland and we don't speak German at all, which make everything much more difficult. We really have no idea now how to settle it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 23.05.2019, 21:08
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

On what basis did they provide a quote if they didn't visit the apartment? The number of rooms or the square meters. How much bigger was your one room apartment than they expected? A roof top apartment covering the whole building with no walls or a regular sized bedroom and living room? Do you feel that you were honest in describing the apartment to them or did you maybe forget to mention that the apartment was bigger than might have been expected? How detailed was the quote they sent you?

In any case, if you feel that you were honest in your description, I would not pay more than the quoted price + 10%. That is generally the acceptable deviation in a case where you have been given a quote.

Forget a lawyer for that amount of money. You have moved already, so chasing you will not be easy for the company either. I would just write them and say that you are sticking to the amount quoted, but will add 10% in light of the fact that it may have taken longer than expected. That is your final offer, take it or leave it.
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Old 23.05.2019, 21:34
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

You probably signed a contract which states that the quote is just an estimate and that all extra hours will be billed. A lot of company's use this and quote low numbers to lure you in.

Unless you can proof that the quote was fixed so you can easily fight a betriebung you are now in a shitty situation, especially since you agreed on a higher price without putting a limit on this.
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Old 23.05.2019, 23:33
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

Bastards, quite true!

Local electician gave me a quote for CHF 580, but the final bill was CHF 390!

Bastard, I fell like sending him the extra CHF 190 just to piss him off for his shit quote!

Tom
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Old 24.05.2019, 00:57
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

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You probably signed a contract which states that the quote is just an estimate and that all extra hours will be billed. A lot of company's use this and quote low numbers to lure you in.

Unless you can proof that the quote was fixed so you can easily fight a betreibung you are now in a shitty situation, especially since you agreed on a higher price without putting a limit on this.
Sorry, but that is bs.... you can't give a quote and then charge someone double. It doesn't work like that, otherwise quotes would be worthless. The accepted overrun for a quote is 10%.

But read the OP's post. They have left Switzerland already. Where would a betreibung be sent to anyway? The OP is doing the honest thing and doesn't want to be screwed. By paying the quote plus 10% he is doing the right thing. Anything more than that is playing in to the hands of these crooks and letting them get away with it.

And anyway, even if they were still here and got a betreibung I wouldn't pay. If they rejected it the onus would be on the cleaning company to take it further. First it would have to go to a mediator and I would be willing to bet that the cleaning company would take the 10% rather than have to pay legal costs to take it to court.
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Old 24.05.2019, 02:35
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

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Sorry, but that is bs.... you can't give a quote and then charge someone double. It doesn't work like that, otherwise quotes would be worthless. The accepted overrun for a quote is 10%.
You can make a quote and state that the quote is based on a certain amount of hours and leave room in the contract to raise or lower the price if the expected amount of time is not enough or overestimated.

This is what I had in my contracts for moving and cleaning.

And I have not read the contract OP signed, have you?
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Old 24.05.2019, 06:59
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

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You can make a quote and state that the quote is based on a certain amount of hours and leave room in the contract to raise or lower the price if the expected amount of time is not enough or overestimated.

This is what I had in my contracts for moving and cleaning.

And I have not read the contract OP signed, have you?
Just because you did it does not make it right. And just because it is in a contract does not make it enforceable. I suggest you take a look at Swiss Code of Obligations OR 373, which states that quotes have to be adhered to. The only case in which it can be exceeded are cases in which there is an unexpected amount of extra work which could not have been anticipated in advance.

So if the 1 bedroom apartment was 150m2 I would guess that this would qualify. If the apartment was much filthier than the norm, that would also qualify, but there has to be some justification as I said in my original post (to which the OP has not given us the answers).
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Old 24.05.2019, 14:20
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

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Just because you did it does not make it right. And just because it is in a contract does not make it enforceable. I suggest you take a look at Swiss Code of Obligations OR 373, which states that quotes have to be adhered to. The only case in which it can be exceeded are cases in which there is an unexpected amount of extra work which could not have been anticipated in advance.

So if the 1 bedroom apartment was 150m2 I would guess that this would qualify. If the apartment was much filthier than the norm, that would also qualify, but there has to be some justification as I said in my original post (to which the OP has not given us the answers).
Also:

Art 374.

Quote:
Where the price was not fixed in advance or fixed only as an approximate amount, it is determined according to the value of the work carried out and the expenses incurred by the contractor.
I have not read the contract and want to leave open the option that the cleaning company is in its legal rights. You have not read the contract and want to leave nothing else but your truth open.

And yes it is not strange to say "We think this will last 8 hours which would cost 500,- however if we need more hours these will be billed also."
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Old 24.05.2019, 14:47
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

Seems to me as if they were wanting to cancel the original quote then enter into an undefined contract for services where they can just send you a bill for however much they want. This is often the case in Switzerland. Our local chimney sweep just charged our house more than 400 for less than an hour at the property.



Has the bill been paid? If not, you don't need a lawyer until the cleaners take some kind of legal action.
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Old 24.05.2019, 16:03
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

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And yes it is not strange to say "We think this will last 8 hours which would cost 500,- however if we need more hours these will be billed also."
Yes, exactly. Many quotes work just like that. For cleaning and also for other kinds of work like dentistry and translation.

The more accurate the information the client gives to the service provider, the closer the quote is likely the to be to the final bill.

The better the communication from the service provider to the client (with due effort by the client, too), the less likely there'll be an unpleasant surprise.
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Old 24.05.2019, 16:07
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

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Hi, my husband and I had asked a cleaning company, alphaplan, to do end-of-contract clean for a one-bedroom apartment. They sent us a quote with the price 600 chf and mentioned they could finish within one day. However, we got an invoice that charges twice the amount, i.e. 1200 chf, one week later in the end. It is absolutely a rip-off for us. We were totally pissed off, not only because of such a big price rise, but also their poor service:

1. mentioned they could finish within one day when we enquired with email. But on the first day they came, they said the apartment was bigger than they thought and they need two people to do it. We asked again the price and the time they need. They mentioned the price probably would go up a bit but also might remain the same, and they could finish within one day. But in the end of that day, they called us that they couldn't finish and need us to wait three days for them to come again.
2. mentioned they would work from 8am to 5pm, but started late(around 9am) and left earlier(4:30pm). There left only the floor and a few windows unclean at the end of the first day, which means they should be able to finish everything if they work enough time as it is supposed
3. messed up our living room's floor with a lot of bread crumbs after their lunch on the first day, which made it even worse than it was before we asked them to clean
4. very defensive when we sent the email to negotiate, mentioning they would definitely ask double price if they knew the apartment was that big and that dirty. They even sent us photos to show how dirty it was. But in fact, they mentioned nothing about such a big price rise on the first day, even after we asked them. It made absolutely no sense that we made our apartment "that" dirty since we've just found our next tenant to take over our contract only a few weeks ago.

We've consulted the local authority and they told us we need a lawyer. I am really upset because there seems not even an office that we can complain. My question now is that whether it is worth the time, the effort, and the money to ask a lawyer to handle this case. We now already moved out from Switzerland and we don't speak German at all, which make everything much more difficult. We really have no idea now how to settle it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
unless there is a specific reason forcing you to, just dont pay, that would be simplest. They aren't going to chase you outside Switzerland for it and as you have said they have clearly tried to rip you off.

Give them a bit of their own medicine. They quote to you then charge double, so you take the quote but then pay nothing. Its fair, in an inverse logic way.
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Old 24.05.2019, 18:13
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

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4. very defensive when we sent the email to negotiate, mentioning they would definitely ask double price if they knew the apartment was that big and that dirty. They even sent us photos to show how dirty it was.
Why would that be your problem? THEY are the professionals, THEY (should) know what information they need for an accurate quote (perhaps just reasonably accurate, subject to the wording).
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But in fact, they mentioned nothing about such a big price rise on the first day, even after we asked them.
You did have "Übergabegarantie", didn't you?

As mentioned it depends on the actual wording of the contract. Words like "unverbindlich" mean the quote is non-binding, but if they mentioned such I'd simply ignore it (doesnt' mean it's a good thing but when they play dirty ...). Usually you have what's called a "Werkvertrag", that is, you buy and pay for a certain service and/or outcome, in this case the cleaning plus (assuming Übergabegarantie) an issue-less handover, the latter requires the presence of a cleaner during handover to rectify what they overlooked immediately.

With a Werkvertrag the contractor must inform the client about a substantial price increase as soon as it's evident and stop work until a amended agreement has been reached. Even if "substantial" may be subject to debate as to what it actually means, a surcharge of 100% certainly qualifies.

Now here comes the interesting part and the reason why the contract type is relevant. §375 code of obligations applies to Werkvertrag, it regulates that
Quote:
I. Withdrawal because estimate exceeded

1 Where an estimate agreed with the contractor is exceeded by a disproportionate amount through no fault of the customer, he has the right to withdraw from the contract before or after completion.

2 In the case of construction work carried out on his land or property, the customer is entitled to an appropriate reduction in the price or, if the work is not yet complete, to call a halt to the work and withdraw from the contract against equitable compensation for work already done.
Usually, exceeding a quote by 10-15% is to be accepted, could be more depending on the particular wording. So offer to pay the originally quoted 600 CHF, pretend to give in to their haggling and settle in the 650-700 range.
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Old 24.05.2019, 19:16
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

I would imagine there must be many different ways of interpreting the phrase "through no fault of the customer".
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Old 27.05.2019, 17:54
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Re: Rip-off by a house cleaning company

If you believe that you have been reasonable. I would suggest to write a letter to the company, pay the amount that you are willing to (eg, 600 + 10%).Then it becomes a dispute, not just an unpaid bill.

If they do not let you go, they need to have the trouble to start a legal procedure, which is very time consuming for them. Even they can put a debit against you, it will not affect you after 5 years.
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