"Unpaid" bill in Germany...problem in Prague?

25 posts in this topic

So here's how it goes:

 

I left Germany last year after a few years working in Munich.

Everything was paid off when I left. Or so I thought.

 

A little after setting things up in the US, I get an email from my DSL provider. It's a bill.

 

"That's impossible," I say to myself. "I cancelled that account!"

And indeed I had - MONTHS before leaving. I had cancelled both via email to my account rep. and in a phone call that same week, where I called to follow-up and make sure they received it (he assured me they had).

Additionally, I sent a written cancellation message included with my router, which I had returned a month in advance, via mail, back to them (per the policy on the box).

I did all of this because not because I'm a psychic, but because I'm OCD about covering potential blind spots like that before I make a big move.

 

The DSL provider does not deny the call or the email. Nor does it deny it has received the router. However, they state that they cannot process the clearly-worded cancellation messages due to a policy of only accepting faxes or written mail.

 

A policy they not only did fail to mention, but specifically advertised against in their "no contract!" / "cancel anytime!" marketing. I was furious. I signed up for this policy *specifically* because I was told I could cancel at any time, no contract, no fuss. Now I'm being told that my cancellations are meaningless, because they weren't faxed. Perhaps this would have been OK had they gotten right back to me, but the sheer amount of ways in which I canceled - and the dramatic length of time before they even chose to respond (several months since the first cancellation), has shocked me.

 

So I fumed and sent them several strongly-worded emails, with attached image files of my cancellation request (signature and all), and a strongly-worded letter.

 

...Which they claim never to have received.

 

While in the US, I continued to try to reason with them. They were immobile. And I continued to receive monthly "charges" by email, though the bank account had long been cancelled.

 

I eventually decided that nothing I did would be of any use, reported them to some BBB-style organization with a copy of the email conversations that had gone on, and decided to ignore them.

 

Now, a year later, I'm considering returning to the EU. I've received a compelling offer to work in Prague. Chance of a lifetime.

 

But I'm concerned. While I am not returning to Germany itself, does trouble potentially await upon my return? This net provider has proven especially ruthless, and though I consider myself entirely in the right (I gave months of notice via several mediums, they lied and assured me I was cancelled, then said otherwise after I had already left the country), I don't doubt they will do whatever they can to make my life miserable as long as possible.

 

Anyone with a similar experience? Advice? If it comes to a lengthy court fight, I'll embrace that over paying money they haven't earned for a service they haven't provided (they are charging me for server that doesn't exist via a router I returned in an apartment that is no longer mine).

 

What am I in for? What are my options?

 

Thanks,

 

Paul

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Well, they are assholes but legally they are right: you should have sent them a normal letter.

 

On the other hand why can't you be such an asshole as well? Did you receive a bill by ordinary mail? No. So you didn't receive any bill and you don't know who answered e-mails on your behalf. Maybe some virus, right?

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But they aren't even legally right - included among my many requests for cancellation WAS a claim via post. (Two, if you count the claim I included along with the router I returned).

 

They simply refuse to acknowledge receipt of either. I produced proof (it was sent via registered mail). They stated they can't find it and have no record of it.

 

This isn't a difference of opinion; it's my reality vs. their complete organizational failure and refusal to own up to it.

 

The question is: Assuming I say "to hell with them" and choose to continue ignoring them, what could await me in Prague?

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Many companies will pass unpaid debts to collections agencies (inkasso). The agencies specialise in finding people who owe money. They make their money by tacking on additional charges.

It is possible that moving back to Europe will make it easier for a collections agency to find you and/or to enforce any legal judgements against you.

Put the word Inkasso in the search box and read a few of the threads.

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Do you have the number of the registered mail you sent, so you can check online with Deutsche Post that it was received and signed for? That's why I cancelled mine by signed-for registered post and made sure I got it in writing that they had accepted it, with the date it will be finished. If that acknowledgement was late in coming, I called them and emailed them until I got it. You should do that with all contracts that need ending, so there are no comebacks. If there are any questions, money taken that shouldn't be taken and so on, you then have a paper trail with which to defend yourself. Seems you're not as OCD as I am.

 

As for what could happen, they might sell on to a debt collection agency but it depends on whether or not it's worth it. You won't be arrested for it or anything like that.

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. They simply refuse to acknowledge receipt of either. I produced proof (it was sent via registered mail). They stated they can't find it and have no record of it.

 

 

 

If there are any questions, money taken that shouldn't be taken and so on, you then have a paper trail with which to defend yourself. Seems you're not as OCD as I am.

 

Or maybe he is...

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You say the job in Prague is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so obviously you should seize the chance and take the job.

You didn't say how big the "debt" is, but I doubt it's big enough for your ISP to find out where you are in the world if you leave your US address, so how would they know that you're in the Czech Republic?

When you move, take the documentation with you and stick it in your briefcase if you visit Germany, just in case they're waiting for you to do this (which I doubt).

Worst case, you might have to pay the "debt", but you won't end up in jail.

You did your best to settle things properly.

Follow yorkeau's advice.

Relax.

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Or maybe he is...

 

Nope he's not. I checked they had signed for it and then bugged them until I got written confirmation of the termination date.

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@Kaz

 

I think the difference lies with them not being organized more than my lack of bugging (I think I've sent maybe 30 emails, not to mention the phone calls). I'm more or less as OCD as it gets.

 

The size of the debt is small - 95 euros of so, last time I got an email from them stating it. Since then, I've gotten several "monthly" statements informing me of E29/mo payments I continue to owe them.

 

What is maddening beyond words is that they continue - throughout my protestations and attempts to cancel - to send me new monthly "bills."

 

This is a year after leaving, already! As there was no minimum "contract," I'd imagine they are violating some policy by continuing to bill, rather than cutting off service. But I don't know German law well enough to say for sure. It's certainly malicious, as they know they are not providing a service in exchange for these additional monthly charges - I've returned the router, I've left the country, and the new tenants living in my old apartment are with a different provider.

 

Why am I the one who should be punished if they can't find their mail? Like I said, I produced the registered mail info. They claimed they never got it. I still have it, and if I have to take it to court, I shall.

 

But am I seriously going to have to do that? Are they that blind?

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O2.

 

This was with "Alice," their contract-less (or so they said) net service.

 

I've looked online and I see a ton of complaints folks have against every element of their services, but not so many resolutions.

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I can barely pronounce it. Definitely never heard of it.

 

Can they help resolve this?

 

EDIT:

Ok, my search history is telling me I *have* gone to this site. "Vzbv," right? [Like I said, this has been going on for about a year now, so I've looked at everything I could find]

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I wonder whether they could get a collection agency involved unless they have a court order against you? Which agency would buy a claim which is not confirmed by a court?

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I don't know if there's a court order yet, I haven't heard from any agency.

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PaulGar

 

If you still have your original contract and (or at least) it's precise designation (Alice or o2 is not enough - exact name of plan eg. Standard/DeLuxe/SpiffySpeed/whatever) and you can tell us exactly when and how you signed on for it then maybe we can find an online link to the applicable AGB (German T&Cs) and decipher the German legalese for you. Without that knowledge all we, or you, can do is speculate about your options or their consequences.

 

I'll do it myself if no-one else has by late tonight but please be warned; experience of investigating lots of similar cases on this site tells me, the odds are you've either been misled by a 'helpful' English-speaking sales person or you're simply unware of one or other of their (and every other ISP in Germany's) standard conditions. They may have their accounts department still billing you automatically although 'customer service' may have given up awaiting your snail mail cancellation and passed your account to their legal dept who, if they got no reply from your last registered address, may sell it to an Inkasso firm. That's why it's crucial you play by the same rules as your contract partner (i.e. by the letter of the AGB) as an Inkasso's collection costs can get ramped very steeply.

 

2B

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I wonder whether they could get a collection agency involved unless they have a court order against you? Which agency would buy a claim which is not confirmed by a court?

 

I always thought it was the agency that took you to court.I thought the company sold the debt,the agency bugged you and then if you did not pay they took you to court.

After a court order isn't it the turn of the obergerichtsvollzieher?

 

I also used to be with Alice and never ever had 1 problem regarding service,billing etc.Then it was taken over by O2 and the shit hit the fan.Phantom charges,bill taken from konto 2 times a month etc etc.

Then when I cancelled it it seemingly went smoothly until about 6 months later when I started getting bills for the non returned modem.

I never returned the modem because it was my modem which I couldn't prove as I did not have the original paper contract and a free modem was part of the offer.

Anyway come xmas the wife gets the deco down from the attic and in 1 of the boxes is the Alice contract with various other "lost" paperwork.

I had ignored the constant reminders from Alice and the bill had started off a 60 odd euros by the time I got it sorted out by faxing them my original contract and a nasty letter the bill was at over €200.

I never hear anymore from them not an apology,not a recognition they were wrong,absolutely nothing.

I don't know if O2 have stripped Alice so much that they are so shit or whether O2 are actually trying to con customers but I know I won't touch anything to do with O2 ever.

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Thanks, 2B.

 

From where I sit, there are several issues.

 

1st is that they lied to me about how I could cancel. 2nd is that they ignored my cancellation attempts - even when done completely in line with their requirements. 3rd, they are continuing to charge me - to this day - for a service they know is in dispute, is not being provided, is attached to a bank account that no longer exists (under such situations I'd imagine they are required to cut service, but no...?), and is going to be a lot of bad PR for them if I have to take this to court.

 

Regarding #1:

One of their reps said things very similar to what you've mentioned. In fact, he stated:

"Our cancelation standards are set out in writing and I am sorry that somebody in our ranks disregard that.” / “I am very sorry that the guy in our shop told you this rubbish.”

Now, in the US, non-general apologies like that can be used as an admission of guilt. No clue about German law. What is certain is that, were these folks truly sorry, they'd simply accept a gazillion cancellation requests - by post, by email, by fax, by large page taped to router, etc. And they'd stop charging me for a service I cannot receive.

 

Regarding the contract itself, it looks like the product is "o2 DSL S" it simply states that it has to be in writing (my cancellation was both in writing and by phone and email). The sales associated kept telling me about how, "ah, you plan on leaving the country, soon? This will be perfect! Cancel at any time, no fuss!"

 

The relevant graf:

 

"Vertragslaufzeit

 

Ihr Vertrag hat keine Mindestlaufzeit und kann jederzeit mit einer Frist von 4 Wochen zum Monatsende gekündigt

 

werden. Die Kündigung bedarf der Schriftform (siehe Ziffer 8.4 der AGB). Die Kündigung von einzelnen Optionen

 

ist zulässig. Die Regelungen zur Kündigung gelten für Kündigung des Kunden und des Anbieters."

 

I signed on in January at the shop @ Ostbanhof.

 

I don't have the AGB on me. :/

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