“A work in lava”: Marc’s cleaning lady breaks a €360 statue, the service voucher company refuses to refund it

“How can I get a repair?”Mark asks. It was due to an inconvenience on the part of his housekeeper that this resident of Jette (Brussels) contacted us through the orange Alert us button.

The events date back to May. That day, Marc and his wife are away from home. The housekeeper is hard at work when an incident suddenly occurs: “He accidentally broke one of our statues.” Mark says. “She directly notified her office to record the thing.

These are things that happen

Bought for 360 euros, the 1.22m tall statue broke into several pieces. “It’s a fairly modern work done in lava. It’s not the end of the world, it’s things that happen”Marc relativizes.

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But the man intends to get compensation. His wife goes first to the service voucher agency where we would have him “repackaged“.”Once we stretched the bill amount, the company became dry and unpleasant. The office refuses to reimburse us for the statue -invoice in support- claiming that they do not have to reimburse for the breakage caused by their staff and that they do not have insurance for it. According to them, what happened is our fault.”Mark explains.

The employer is civilly liable

A position of the service voucher agency that places our alerter in a misunderstanding. In the process, Marc writes an email to the agency formally claiming compensation: “Would you be so kind as to activate your compensation lever so that we can benefit from the reimbursement of our statue?“, he writes.

Before seeing the agency’s response to Marc’s request, what does the law say about it? Who is responsible when a housekeeper breaks or damages an object during a cleaning?

We’re good at spitting dough

The law is clear. According to article 1384 of the Civil Code, a domestic worker cannot be held responsible for damage caused while cleaning her. Exception: If you make an intentional mistake, a serious foul, or the same mistake repeatedly. It is therefore the employer (in this case the approved company) who is civilly liable for the damage caused by the workers in the user’s facilities. Companies are also insured. Therefore, according to the law, the authorized company must compensate the user, in this case Marc.

The company hides behind the jurisprudence

After several weeks of waiting, Marc finally got a response to his email. And despite the terms of the law, the service voucher agency still refuses to reimburse him. The agency hides behind a decision of the Liège Court of Appeal of 11/26/2015 which establishes in substance that “The housekeeper is under the sole authority of the client in providing.”

In this ruling, the approved service voucher company was not held responsible. As a result, the Marc company hides behind this decree and writes “The aforementioned sentence, between two important insurance companies, has not been subject to appeal. Consequently, the latter is jurisprudence and authority.” And to conclude: “In this context, unfortunately we will not be able to access your intervention request.”

Towards a mediation service?

Arnaud Le Grelle is the director of Federgon. The federation represents more than 160 service voucher companies in Belgium. At first, he makes it clear that “All service voucher companies are insured. It’s very widespread.” Regarding the specific case of Marc, Federgon does not hide his misunderstanding: “It is not in the interest of the service voucher company not to reimburse. It is a matter of maintaining good commercial relations”. In this case, Federgon possibly recommends going to the consumer mediation service, which may be able to provide a solution between Marc and the service voucher company.

Meanwhile, Marc says to himself in “anger at being sidelined by his agency. We’re good at spitting out dough. I have nothing against my cleaning lady. She keeps coming from somewhere else“, specifies.

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