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Old 28.03.2011, 18:00
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Letter from German Lawyer

Hi all

Need some help and advice as usual.

I booked an apartment in the Black Forest area which I had to cancel later on due to an expected DB Strike.

I informed the apartment owner 2 days in advance that I would like to cancel the apartment due to this reason.

The owner wrote me an email after the date had passed that I have to pay the rent for the apartment. No such clauses were informed beforehand. I tried to tell him that if DB does not run the service and its impossible for me to get there what can I do about that. But, he somehow was convinced that I should still pay him the rent inspite of this. I have never seen such unreasonable behaviour in Switzerland. More weird - he also gave me an offer that I should send him a DVD from Amazon and he will close this deal.

Finally I received a letter from a lawyer from Freiburg asking me to pay the room rent plus his charge for sending me this letter. I never expected a lawyer to be contacted for 1 night room rent.

I had never planned any holidays in German ( have been everywhere else in Europe) and I guess did the good thing by not planning if such people are renting out apartments there.

What can I do now ? I really do not think I should pay as I informed in advance - there was a transport strike expected and plus I was never informed about these clauses.

Thanks for advice.

Cheers
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Old 28.03.2011, 18:02
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

Your travel insurance company should be able to help. If you don't have any - doh! - then your legal insurance / household insurance *may* offer advice.
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Old 28.03.2011, 18:08
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

Did you put your cancellation in writing? If not, then you may have to suck it up as it will be your word against the apartment owner as to how much notice you gave.

If you did put it in writing and if you are positive there was nothing about cancellation charges in your agreement then contact the lawyer giving a copy of your cancellation notice. Best thing to do is get something off to the lawyer asap. Then wait for comeback. If they can prove to you that the apartment owner has the right to charge you as the website/brochure small print that you booked with says so then again, you won't have a choice. However, without the proof that you couldn't cancel 2 days before (some places do have this), most places are 24 hours before.

Whatever you do, don't ignore it.

Good luck.
Dotty
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Old 28.03.2011, 19:53
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

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I tried to tell him that if DB does not run the service and its impossible for me to get there what can I do about that.
And what should the appartment owner do about that?
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:27
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

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Your travel insurance company should be able to help. If you don't have any - doh! - then your legal insurance / household insurance *may* offer advice.
I will contact my Travel Insurance.
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:58
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

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I informed the apartment owner 2 days in advance that I would like to cancel the apartment due to this reason.
The owner wrote me an email after the date had passed that I have to pay the rent for the apartment. No such clauses were informed beforehand. I tried to tell him that if DB does not run the service and its impossible for me to get there what can I do about that. But, he somehow was convinced that I should still pay him the rent inspite of this. I have never seen such unreasonable behaviour in Switzerland.
Based on the information you provided - and assuming that you booked under German law (for example on a German website) - the guy is perfectly entitled to ask for his money. There is no cancellation right x days in advance of a booking, unless such right is specifically granted in the fine print during the booking. For hotel bookings there is no legal requirement to inform customers about the absence of a cancellation right beforehand.
Since you booked accomodation only (no package tour) it was your problem how to get there. There are some exceptions like acts of god/force majeure (think of the vulcano ash or the tsunami/earthquake/radioactivity in Japan) - but a strike of one means of transport did not make it impossible for you to get there: You could have taken a train to Basel and a cab from there onwards, you could have rented a car etc. Yes, this may have been expensive, but not impossible. We don't even know whether the strike actually took place and whether the connection you relied on was impacted at all.
Whether other agencies, websites or hotel chains usually do or do not grant such a cancellation right is completely irrelevant for this particular case.
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:58
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

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And what should the appartment owner do about that?
He can ask DB to pay up.
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Old 29.03.2011, 13:59
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

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He can ask DB to pay up.

DB didn't book a room with him, you did
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Old 29.03.2011, 14:16
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Re: Letter from German Lawyer

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Hi all
Finally I received a letter from a lawyer from Freiburg asking me to pay the room rent plus his charge for sending me this letter. I never expected a lawyer to be contacted for 1 night room rent.
Seems natural, that's what the lawyers are for - to avoid wasting your own time. I do exactly the same thing if I have some contractual problems.

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What can I do now ? I really do not think I should pay as I informed in advance - there was a transport strike expected and plus I was never informed about these clauses.
Contact your own lawyer to sort it out? Do you know the German law to tell what are the default clauses? Check your travel insurance conditions - maybe it covers such cases?
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