Debt collection procedure in Switzerland
Thread poster: Anita Cassidy

Anita Cassidy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2005)
English to German
Jan 11, 2006

Hello everyone,

It looks like one of my customers (a Swiss-based agency) is ignoring my payment requests. So far, payment is not massively overdue (invoice issued in early December, terms 30 days), but they have gone quiet on me and haven't even acknowledged receipt of my translation, invoice and recent (friendly) payment reminder by e-mail. It was my first job for them.

Just to be prepared: Does anyone have debt collection experience in Switzerland? What is the best way of going about this - is there an official (court) procedure, or should I contact a debt collection agency if worst comes to worst?

Thanks in advance for all your help!
Anita


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LuciaC
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:51
English to Italian
+ ...
Betreibungsamt Jan 12, 2006

I have no direct experience but you should enquire at the Betreibungsamt/Office des poursuites of the Canton. Here is an example for Freiburg, with texts also in English:

http://appl.fr.ch/opf/procedures/procedurede/default_procedure_de.htm

I think you should ask for a Zahlungsbefehl.

Someone told me (but maybe our Swiss colleagues could confirm whether this is true?) that if a company has a procedure started against them, they will have a hard time applying for credit in the future. Therefore, I believe that threatening them with such a procedure might just do the trick.

Best wishes,
Lucia


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Anita Cassidy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2005)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
thank you! Jan 20, 2006

Hi Lucia,

Thanks a lot for your reply and the tip! Let's hope I don't have to go through with it...

Best wishes,
Anita


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ibz  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:51
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Check the following website Jan 24, 2006

Hi Anita,
Check http://www.vgbz.ch/home/index.html, the homepage of the relevant authorities in the Canton of Zurich. Here you can also find information about the proper procedure.
I can confirm that it sometimes improves the willingness of companies to pay, if you threaten to make your claim official (Betreibung einleiten).
Hope you get paid!
Irene


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baroni  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:51
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes it's true Jan 24, 2006

Lucia Cavalli wrote:

I have no direct experience but you should enquire at the Betreibungsamt/Office des poursuites of the Canton. Here is an example for Freiburg, with texts also in English:

http://appl.fr.ch/opf/procedures/procedurede/default_procedure_de.htm

I think you should ask for a Zahlungsbefehl.

Someone told me (but maybe our Swiss colleagues could confirm whether this is true?) that if a company has a procedure started against them, they will have a hard time applying for credit in the future. Therefore, I believe that threatening them with such a procedure might just do the trick.

Best wishes,
Lucia


Hi Lucia,
you helped me a lot with this information in Autumn 2004.
Swiss companies are absolutely afraid of "Betreibungsämter". After contacting the "Betreibungsamt" of Buchs (every city hall has its own Betreibungsamt)it took me only 10 days to receive my money on my account (Swiss bureaucracy is fantastic, very fast indeed). My customer did not want that his other creditors found out that such a procedure was opened against him, therefore he paid immediately.


Good luck!


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Sharon Sideris  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:51
German to English
+ ...
An update Mar 12, 2009

In case anyone else is looking for this information, I thought I'd update by saying I have an outstanding debt in Switzerland and it seems like the company has just dropped off the planet, not replying to emails or phonecalls, so I followed the advice here and called the Betriebungsamt in the canton where my client is resident. You can fill the form out online, it seems pretty simple, and then submit it with your invoice and other proof (I am going to send the PO).

You put your bank details on the form and hopefully they will recover the debt and return it to the bank account. There is a small fee, which they said they would invoice me for, so I am not sure if that means I will have to make a separate transfer back to them rather than them just taking it out of the recovered funds. There may be some small fees and wire transfer fees involved here, but its worth it if it works, so fingers crossed!


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Sandra Mouton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:51
Member (2008)
English to French
+ ...
Important info (?) Jan 20, 2010

Hello all,
I did what was advised here and contacted the relevant Office des Poursuites (=Betriebungsamt in French speaking Switzerland). Reading Sharon's post, I had great hopes. Unfortunately, the person I talked to on the phone told me that it was impossible to launch the process from abroad and I had to hire an attorney or a business agent to represent me in Switzerland. Out of the question as the attorney's fees would probably be three times more than the money owed.
I will try to ask for the right form by post (i.e. ignore what was said to me on the phone) but if anyone has a little advice, help or information, it would be great.
I'll keep you posted anyway.


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SonokoE  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 05:51
Member (2010)
English to Japanese
A hint of Betreibungsamt might have worked Apr 13, 2013

A Swiss company, not a translation agency but a direct client, has owed me about 5,000 euro since October 2012. The accounting manager promised me that he would send the money in 2 weeks, by the end of the month, etc. many times but broke every promise, and just kept delaying the payment.

So I sent him an email 2 days ago saying that I would have no choice but ask for help from Betreibungsamt of their region.

I received a reply from him in 2 hours in which he promised he would immediately pay me the money. Next day, the money was in my bank account in Japan!

I cannot say for sure that Betreibungsamt actually worked because he may have happened to be ready for paying the money at the time. But just hinting that Betreibungsamt would be after the company might have worked.


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Debt collection procedure in Switzerland

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