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Old 03.03.2011, 11:44
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Paying for 'hidden' car fine [Contract Cancellation Problem]

Hello,

Me and my girlfriend just moved to Switzerland 2 months ago.

We needed a car so we looked around and found one at Autohaus Schiess in Volketswil. It was a Audi A4 automatic. The evening after signing the contract a got second doubts about the car's gearbox, and after some research my doubts were confirmed... the gearbox (multitronic) seemed to be very doggy and expensive in repair.

So 2 days after i went back to the cardealer and told him i wanted to cancel the contract and asked him if there where any consequences. The person in question told there was no problem to cancel the contract. We just had to write him an email or letter in which we stipulated that we want to cancel the contract.

The cardealer called is a back one week later to ask if we were sure about cancelling the contract because there were other people who wanted to buy the car. We told him we were and that was that.... so we thought.

This morning we recieved a letter from Autohaus Schiess that we had to pay 20% of the price of the car because we cancelled the contract. What??

I dug up the contract and indead, at the back of the contract in small print does it say that in case of a cancelation the buyer has to pay 20% of the car's worth.

I feeling pretty pissed to say the least... I talked to the cardealer multiple times and every time he told me there was no problem cancelling the contract. I should of read the contract with a mignifying glass before cancelling the contract but still...

Does anybody gone through the same thing? What did you do you? Is there any way not paying the fine? The car has already been sold (one week after) so i cant still buy it.

Any advice is welkom. Thanx.


Wout


Im off to the cardealer to see what we can do about it. Let's hope we can find a solution
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Old 03.03.2011, 11:53
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

Hi

Is this the one near the Duebendorf Airbase?

Really sorry to hear about that I'm in a similar position looking at buying a car from them, so good to know.

I guess the moral of the story is read the small print, I've no idea where you stand with regards to your consumer rights etc...

I know in UK you could threaten them with Trading Standards if the car was sold as perfect but with a defect gearbox.

Anyone know if there is a Swiss version of TDI?

Last edited by Golfprostew; 03.03.2011 at 11:54. Reason: Typo on TDI meant TSI :-)
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Old 03.03.2011, 12:07
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

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We needed a car so we looked around and found one at Autohaus Scheiss in Volketswil.
Fixed that for you.

Sorry to hear about your predicament, hope you find a solution.
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Old 03.03.2011, 12:10
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

We bought our car with them 6 years ago. I probably wouldn't go back.
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Old 03.03.2011, 12:16
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

Hi. You should be able to get advice though your car insurers. Sometimes they have a helpline number they give you. You were incorrectly advised and should have the right to do something about that.
Also worth a try is TCS Touring Club Switzerland.
However, as far as I know, the downside is that if you end up taking him to court, you pay costs, regardless whether you win or lose.
Good luck! I hate all car dealers all over the world! I know this is unfair to the good ones but how can we tell who is genuine and who isn't!?
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Old 03.03.2011, 12:26
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

sorry, but you only checked the car out AFTER you signed the contract? so really whose fault is this?

Of course they would say its no problem to cancel, because there is a 20% cancellation fee, is it fair? probably not, but most people wouldn't be signing contracts before doing any homework on high value purchases.
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Old 03.03.2011, 12:37
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

Um... sorry, but WTF?

The dealer virtually told you they'd love you to cancel the contract, and so they did. I see no problems, other then that you failed to read the cancellation policy on the contract you had signed.

I feel for you, I'd be pretty pissed off myself if I had to pay 20% for something I didn't get, but I'd be (very) surprised if you can find a way out of this.

EDIT:

Just to make this clear - you got second thoughts about the (potential) gearbox issues after researching on the internet, or was it an actual problem with the car that you bought? If it was the latter, the contract could have been canceled based on the fact the dealer sold you a faulty car. This you can pursue as in this case the cancellation policies for the buyer should not apply.
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Old 03.03.2011, 12:52
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

It is very common for such a penalty to be applied. AFAIK you can only count on goodwill and negotiation to get around this. For example, you still need a car ? Ok, so try to negotiate writing off the 20% if you buy a different car from them.

As for other gotchas in the contract, do be sure to check what is written and what is not. Are all details from the advertisement correctly recorded in the contract ? I had a dealer advertise 8-fach bereift (ie summer+winter tyres) but no mention in the contract. On pickup day he refused to supply the second set. I also did a trade-in of my old car with another dealer, and again did not read the contract so carefully - it seems he supplied me with a car which had 'mileage as shown' and no 'unfallfrei' guarantee, whereas according to the contract I was trading in my car with 'guaranteed mileage' and 'accident free'....etc.etc.etc.
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Old 03.03.2011, 13:58
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

Thanx for the replies,

First of all... I know... i shoud of been much more aware of the small print...

The thing is, we were alreay looking for a car for more than 4 weeks but every time we found one i it turned out that i was already sold minutes or hours before we arrived at the dealer.

I asked the dealer from Schiess to take an option on the car for a day, so we could think about it and do some research, but that was apparently not possible. He made it clear that it was all about first come first serve...

So after spending 2 hours, and a testdrive, at the dealer we decided to buy the car.

Back home i tried to find as much information about the car as possible so i wouldn't be facing any suprises after their one yaer warranty. It was than that i found out that the gearbox (multitronic) of the audi was a huge issue among other audi owners. The internet is full of people who paid thousands of euro's on repairs of that specific gearbox.

Like i said... i dindn't wanted to take any risc's so 2 days later i called Schiesser to cancel the contract. I asked him what the consequences were but he never mentioned the fine you had to pay if you brake the contract.


And now, one month later and after buying another car, we get a letter from Schiesser telling us we have to pay more than 4000 swiss francs for the cancellation.

For the moment i arranged a meeting on monday with the sales boss of Schiesser and my girlfriend already send a couple of emails to the legal department of her company. We ll see what happens.

One more question. In the rest of europe you always have a 7 day 'thinking period' when you buy a product. You can always return something, in the original state of course, within 7 days without some sort of fine. Does this also exist in Switzerland?? Please let me know if you have more information about this.

Thank you for your help and support (and the kick to the head for signing something befor getting to the bodom of it)


Wout
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Old 03.03.2011, 14:14
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

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sorry, but you only checked the car out AFTER you signed the contract? so really whose fault is this?

Of course they would say its no problem to cancel, because there is a 20% cancellation fee, is it fair? probably not, but most people wouldn't be signing contracts before doing any homework on high value purchases.
Exactly my thoughts
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Old 03.03.2011, 14:27
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

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One more question. In the rest of europe you always have a 7 day 'thinking period' when you buy a product. You can always return something, in the original state of course, within 7 days without some sort of fine. Does this also exist in Switzerland?? Please let me know if you have more information about this.
I don't know about rest of Europe but thats not the case in the UK for example. There, a cooling off period only applies to distance selling, and you only have the right to return a product if it's faulty. Many retailers are more generous than this allowing you to return if you change your mind, but they don't have to.
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Old 03.03.2011, 15:00
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

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One more question. In the rest of europe you always have a 7 day 'thinking period' when you buy a product. You can always return something, in the original state of course, within 7 days without some sort of fine. ...Please let me know if you have more information about this.
Yes, I do have additional information about this: Such right doesn't exist.

You may be confusing it with the so-called cooling-off period, which applies to sales via the internet, the phone, mail ordering etc. only. This cooling-off right results from a EU Directive, which had been implemented in the national laws a couple of years ago already. There are significant additional restrictions/limitations around this right (not applicable to Financial Services, certain other services, software or music downloads, etc.)., but the key point is that it doesn't apply to whatever you bought via a physical visit in a store. The rationale being that in a store you can actually look at what you are buying before doing so.
EU Directives don't apply in Switzerland.
Some countries also have such a cancellation right for stuff sold by door-to-door salesmen (notably subscriptions for newspapers/journals).

Some shops might apply a liberal refund policy, but that is their policy only - nothing you could invoke against other shops.

EDIT: = What Rachel said already...
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Old 03.03.2011, 15:17
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

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I don't know about rest of Europe but thats not the case in the UK for example. There, a cooling off period only applies to distance selling, and you only have the right to return a product if it's faulty. Many retailers are more generous than this allowing you to return if you change your mind, but they don't have to.
According to the Distance Selling directive you have the right to return products during the cooling-off period, no questions asked, regardless of whether the product is faulty or not.
Always assuming that the law does apply - see my earlier post on that.
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Old 03.03.2011, 16:10
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine

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According to the Distance Selling directive you have the right to return products during the cooling-off period, no questions asked, regardless of whether the product is faulty or not.
Always assuming that the law does apply - see my earlier post on that.
I did mean that, even though it wasn't clear, I meant what you said in your first post i.e. that if it's not distance selling you don't have a right to return if it's not faulty. Not that this helps the OP in any way but just to be crystal clear!! The garage sounds to have dubious ethical practices if they pressure customers to sign a contract with punitive clauses in the small print while threatening if the customer wants to take time to read the contract they may lose the product.
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Old 03.03.2011, 19:35
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine [Contract Cancellation Problem]

Switzerland has some provisions on the "Revocation of door-to-door sales and similar contracts" (cf. Art. 40a CO). But they only protect the consumer who is cold-called at his work place or at home, etc.

Where a consumer actively searches for a product on the internet and then visits the showroom these provisions do not apply. There is no "Überrumplungseffekt".
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Old 03.03.2011, 20:17
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine [Contract Cancellation Problem]

We bought two cars from them this summer when we moved here. I wouldn't buy from them again. Very slimy salesman - hidden charges and it took two weeks to get our car after we bought it. Maybe that's normal here, I don't know, but it wasn't a pleasurable experience.

~BBCH
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Old 03.03.2011, 20:29
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine [Contract Cancellation Problem]

We recently bought a used car from a reputable used car dealer (10+ years in business).

Took a test drive, didn't even ask for our license.

We said OK, when can it be ready (this was Saturday)? It was ready on Monday, plates, everything!

No written contract at all, just verbal agreement (cash on delivery), even got a 5k km warranty on the powertrain!

I guess things are different in TI.

Tom
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Old 04.03.2011, 12:25
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine [Contract Cancellation Problem]

What happened to bigblue2's post?
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Old 04.03.2011, 14:58
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine [Contract Cancellation Problem]

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Does anybody gone through the same thing? What did you do you? Is there any way not paying the fine? The car has already been sold (one week after) so i cant still buy it.
Somehow I doubt it. I think you'll have to pay, as it is in the contract and they have a cast-iron case. If you go to court you'll lose and have to pay their lawyer's fees as well.

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...If it was the latter, the contract could have been canceled based on the fact the dealer sold you a faulty car...
1) that would only apply if the dealer knows the car is faulty... good luck proving that!

2) all cars sold in CH usually come with a 1 year warrantee. Don't know if the gearbox is covered by that, but if it is, getting it fixed would not have been a problem.

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For the moment i arranged a meeting on monday with the sales boss of Schiesser and my girlfriend already send a couple of emails to the legal department of her company. We ll see what happens.
As mentioned, you don't really have a legal leg to stand on.

You might be able to negotiate a reduced amount - seeing as they've already sold the car - or agree to buy a different car from them, e.g. you pay the 4000 k and they knock this off the price of a car you buy for them in the next 6 months.
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Old 04.03.2011, 15:05
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Re: Paying for 'hidden' car fine [Contract Cancellation Problem]

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No written contract at all, just verbal agreement (cash on delivery), even got a 5k km warranty on the powertrain!
Did the same thing last night. I've worked out that the best places to buy cars in switzerlands are from mechanics. They are normally too proud of their work to sell a "dog"!

The plethora of used "non-Swiss" car dealers are a nightmare and minefield in my experience.
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