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I have a legal dispute with a relocation consultant and am looking for advice as I'm new to the country

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Hey everyone,

 

I moved to Munich from the UK for a new job around six weeks ago. My employer provided a handbook to help expats with the move and suggested a relocation consultant. In the handbook was a price list with services offered.

 

I decided to use this consultant and had conversations and emails detailing my requirements for an apartment search. Her services were to arrange and accompany me to viewings (5), liaise with landlords and agents, coordinate deposit payment, accompany me to handover of keys, provide a summary of the rental contract in English, help setting up basic utilities, help setting up internet; mobile phone and TV fee and also setup insurances.

 

The consultant arranged and accompanied me to 4 viewings, from which I applied for and was declined twice. The others were unsuitable. I then found my own flat independently and stopped using the relocation services entirely. (Only 1 of the 4 viewings met the requirements that I provided initially).

 

I was then presented with an invoice for the full price of a premium relocation search package, the price for which nor selection of package had not been discussed at all prior to engaging with the consultant. The invoice also omitted discounts for all of the services not carried out by the consultant.  

 

After explaining this to the consultant and offering a reasonable, reduced amount for services actually rendered, they refused and discounted Eur 150 from the initial price. Another, higher offer was made by me, which was also refused. I then received a letter from their lawyer demanding payment.

 

I feel that I am being exploited but don't have any legal background to support this and wonder if it is worth fighting. The amount in question is EUR 1595.

 

Any advice at all would be welcomed.

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It is hard to say based on this information.  Would have to see the contract.  I am confused, though.  You said that you when to four out of five viewings and then you say that there was only one that "met your requirements".  Were those requirements in the contract? 

 

Based on the contract, it might not matter if you found the apartment or she did.  I am thinking about real estate agents who sign a contract stating that they are the exclusive agents to sell your house.  If you find a buyer on your own, you still have to pay the real estate agent their fee as if they had sold it for you.  Is this what they are arguing?    

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32 minutes ago, Wilsonn said:

[...] coordinate deposit payment, accompany me to handover of keys, provide a summary of the rental contract in English, help setting up basic utilities, help setting up internet; mobile phone and TV fee and also setup insurances.

 

But all the services listed above definitely were not rendered.

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1 hour ago, Wilsonn said:

 

Any advice at all would be welcomed.

 

We don't know the terms of the contract. If the services were ordered bindingly, you are also entitled to them, but to say "I changed my mind" and now ignore the order, does not necessarily work. 

 

Whether it is worth it for you to take a first consultation with a lawyer is up to you to decide. Attorney fees are regulated by law in Germany - an initial consultation may cost a maximum of 190€ + VAT = 226.10€. 

 

English-speaking lawyers can be found, for example, by searching on the website of the German Bar Association: https://anwaltauskunft.de/magazin ("Erweiterte Suche").

 

Alternatively you could ask your employer for help - they recommended this relocation agent to you. 

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48 minutes ago, Metall said:

 

But all the services listed above definitely were not rendered.

Sounds as if the OP just stopped using them, so  T&C of contract need to be viewed.

They could argue that they are still willing to render the services!

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It seems you never really notified them of you dissatisfaction or gave them a chance to address your issues. Once you found your own apartment did you advise them and give the opportunity to accompany you to showing and assist with contracts etc? I think you have a problem with applying for 2 apartments they found first if you are going to dispute the did not meet your needs that could be argued as they did if you applied for 2 of their showings?

 

in our case i had a paid consultant but i also did my own searches and found the apartment we took but he still came along reviewed the contract, helped set up electric etc. and by the way he was not very good either. Doing this as a fill in job

 

By the way if you found your own place i hope you hade someone review your contract unless you are a fluent german speaker.

 

You really need to review their terms and then a lawyer to see what they would advise but i am not sure you have sufficient comms with them to demonstrate they have not delivered especially after 

trying for 2 of the showings. Good luck german contracts don't usually favor the consumer unfortunately.

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Thanks for all the replies guys. A lot of you mention seeing the contract and terms... there was no contract or terms. Since the dispute I have asked on multiple occasions for a copy of business terms but there are none. There seems only to be a basic assumption that I am a non German speaking Englishman, new to the country who will pay on receipt of an invoice. 

 

Whether I denied the consultant the opportunity to help me with services required prior to finding a flat, I'm unsure. 

 

The reason I applied for 2 of the flats viewed, even though they failed to meet my requirements was from pressure applied by the consultant.

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16 hours ago, Metall said:

 

But all the services listed above definitely were not rendered.

Definitely not rendered

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A new update, apparently I will be sent a Dunning notice imminently. My understanding is that this is a formal request for payment of an outstanding invoice from the creditor. Is the court system involved at this point?

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No, but there might be a small fee involved (~€5). The courts don't get involved until you ignore one or more payment reminders.

 

The problem with booking/ordering a service is that in the eyes of the law, it doesn't really matter if you used the service or not - what matters is that it was made available to you. Your window to dispute the charges has already closed - you would have had to complain (and generate a paper trail) several steps previously, after you realized the accommodations she offered you didn't match your description. That's the point where you could have terminated the contract and (potentially) only paid for that part of it.


I'd strongly suggest that you complain to HR, though, and tell them about your horrible experience with her and advise them to stop recommending her. That would be sweet revenge. Ask if they might be willing to pick up some or all of the bill. If you pay her now, you can still take her up on her offer of a €150 discount and avoid the dunning fee. Even if they claim the discount is no longer available, I doubt they'd chase you up for €150.

 

Please note, however, that I'm not a lawyer and the above should be interpreted as proper legal advice (this is a standard disclaimer for non-lawyers in Germany).

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It sounds to me that you were offered a package of services for a flat fee.  As with a buffet, you pay one price and choose what you do and do not eat.  The consultant was willing to offer all the services you listed, but you chose to only select a few and now you want a discount for those services you did not use.  I suppose the consultant could have offered his time and charged you an hourly rate, but it appears you took the package deal.

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Yeah look.  This isnt going to work.  Say you took the first of the 5 apartments you saw... you think you get an 80% discount because you didnt use 4 of the 5 viewings?

 

You contracted for them to arrange some stuff, and they did their part.  Unless you have a contract which clearly shows proportional charging for proportional use, together with some kind of termination clause which you enacted properly I think you paid for the service and you got it.

 

On 04/12/2019, 16:30:53, Wilsonn said:

premium relocation search package

 

package

 

I dont see this working out the way you want it to.

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33 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

No, but there might be a small fee involved (~€5). The courts don't get involved until you ignore one or more payment reminders.

 

 

A court order for payment can be obtained from the local court (Amtsgericht) at any time and then costs are higher, especially if a lawyer is appointed. We do not know what kind of dunning notice is to be issued here. 

 

33 minutes ago, El Jeffo said:

I'd strongly suggest that you complain to HR, though, and tell them about your horrible experience with her and advise them to stop recommending her. That would be sweet revenge.

 

This can, however, also backfire. A presumably adult, highly qualified and well-paid man who is able to find a flat in Munich (!) within a very short time (!), but only visits offered flats because he feels "under pressure" by a consultant? And if the details vary (was it one apartment that didn't meet his own requirements (post 1) or were it two (post 2)?), an employer can also ask himself whether he bought the right man here - or a wimp. Or even worse, a troublemaker. 

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On 04/12/2019, 16:30:53, Wilsonn said:

I feel that I am being exploited but don't have any legal background to support this and wonder if it is worth fighting. The amount in question is EUR 1595.

What a welcome. :o

 

Certainly understand you feeling exploited and agree you don't have much, if any, of a leg to stand on. If you can stand the financial pain, maybe just move on. Your limited time and energy can be better spent at this stressful point in your life. Although I agree with those who suggest passing the bill to HR. Just be mindful of how you do it. SD has a point.

 

Rechtschützversicherung indispensable in Germany. And join the Mietverein.

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