Is there anything I can do when a company refuses to accept a cancellation?

So 2 days ago, I signed up for a TELC Prüfung from ILS Zürich. The next morning, I was talking to a friend and realized I'd somehow gotten my wires crossed - I had meant to sign up for the SDS instead.

I immediately sent them an email saying I wanted to cancel the appointment. They did not respond, and 5 hours later, they sent me a confirmation of my registration. After a couple of back and forth emails, it's become clear they will not accept my cancellation, and expect me to pay them 320 CHF whether or not I show up. They highlighted a line in their AGB showing that I had to pay. Everything I've read about Swiss law leads me to believe that the AGB is god and customers have no rights, so I believe there's no way I can get out of paying them at some point.

I am fortunate that 320 CHF is not a make-or-break quantity of money for me, but it's also not something I want to give to a company that's basically stealing my money for services they won't be providing.

I can of course relate my experience in the form of negative reviews, but that seems ineffective, not to mention petty... Though I do feel like being a bit petty at a minimum. I'm trying to figure out if there's anything else I can do to at least make them wait and/or suffer a bit without it harming myself in the process.

When is the course? Their AGB actually seems to say you can get a refund:

15.1 Deregistrations before the end of the registration and deregistration period are free of charge. If you cancel your exam registration after this deadline has passed, the exam costs will be charged in full. The exam costs vary depending on the level.

Sadly their deadline has passed, at least according to them. It's on Dec. 2.

Here's the full exchange, slightly redacted starting with their reply to my second request to cancel:

... At least it's been good practice for my SDS test. Sigh.

Threathening them because you changed your mind too late is never a good idea.....

Is immediately within an hour or less? Did you state a reason? If said you have to cancel due to an error/mixup then it should be honored (Art. 23 ff Code of Obligations). If you did not state a reason then they are correct and what's written in the ToC applies.

I cancelled 15 hours later. It was the next day when I realized my mistake. Really as I understand it, I was screwed the minute they decided not to work with me on it. They had the option of being nice, and choose not to take it. That's when I started to get a bit less night. At this point I'm mainly wondering what I can do without having them send debt collectors after me... AFAICT all I can do is let people know they're not good to work with and pay them their ransom at the last minute.

It is a business agreement, nothing to do with nice. You signed up for a test, you cancelled too late and now you are threatening them.

If you don ́t pay they will send you a Betreibung.

Look at their side. How many times this may have happened already with some spurious explanations of why someone can ́t do the test?

Maybe they could have been nice but you escalated that pretty quickly:

In der EU, wo es Regeln gibt, das man solche Bestellungen stornieren kann?

Oder ist es nur ihre Verkaufspolitik?

The concept of "no-show" penalties is a well established practice worldwide and the principle is to insure the service provider from expenses incurred in the preparation of services in addition to the loss of income for the booked time. It's always written in the AGB / T&C, I have to read them. There is a time window, it's always somehow arbitrary, but it must be specified. It has nothing to do with CH, EU or anything else: I lose my money if I try to cancel a hotel or a train ticket last minute everywhere in the world.

Unless one is gentle and diplomatic, and manages to convince the service provider to forget about laws and rules and just make an exception. But one has to choose the right approach and then be very convincing.

Something on the line of " Dear Sir or Madam, I'm sorry to inform you that due to a last-minute event I won't be able to participate in Y as originally planned. I'm writing you as soon as I could so that you can at least organize accordingly. I understand that due to the short notice I am not officially entitled to any reimboursement from you, however I would highly appreciate any courtesy from you on this side ".

Basically one has to beg and hope for a voucher or something.

In the specific case, I would have asked for the money to be transferred (maybe with a small penalty) from the TELC booking to a SDS booking, therefore maintaining the business relation and emphasizing the "mistake" nature of the cancellation. They would still have the right to refuse so, but at least the topic woulde shift from "challenging the AGB" to "customer support" where the chances are higher.

Also, OP, you seem to confuse end consumer protection (B2C, "Verbraucherschutz") with B2B transactions in your

"Von wem haben sie es bestellt? Telc gGmbH in Bad Homburg vor der Höhe in Deutschland? In der EU, wo es Regeln gibt, das man solche Bestellungen stornieren kann?"

Making a prompt decision is one thing, but look, my phone slipped off my hands, when catching it mid-air I accidentally hit subscription change button. The provider ignored my explanation as well via their support line... The problem was that I had a nice one off promotional lifetime package, by changing it I waved the promo. Now I regret installing their app, but there's nothing I can do other than wait for next promo

Back to you question. I registered once for DALF but before the date it turned out I don't want/need it anymore so I asked and in the end I had to pay only 80 CHF late cancellation fee.

Considering you do not answer the full question, it looks like you simply tried to cancel for no reason. Anyway, SDS or TELC, in the end it’s the same same. Just that TELC cost a bit more, takes a bit longer for the result, but you get a certificate which has also some value outside Swiss immigration and naturalization.

Btw, here the information from the Swiss Government about e-commerce and your rights (or lack thereof): https://www.kmu.admin.ch/kmu/en/home…the-eu%20.html
Note that in the EU, only the end consumer has a cancelation right, hence the different ordering process for the Austrian vignette for consumer vs. businesses.

PS:

Note: You did not contact them, but you sent them an email. That’s nearly as good as throwing a bottle into the ocean.

Note: Better would be “Oder ist dies einfach Ihre Verkaufspolitik?”

Note: They provide the service. It’s just you which is no longer interested in it.