MSDN Information Centre

Anne Marie Waters

P.O. Box 5576

Dublin 4







Zürich, February 12th, 1998






Re: Proforma Invoice for MSDN Professional (Order No. P00739550000 / MSDN Membership No. 0200974210) and our fax dated February 5th, 1998






Dear Ms Waters



On 7th November 1997 we sent you the MSDN Renewal order form for our annual subscription of the MSDN enclosing a cheque for SFR 718.30.


Our bank confirms that SFR 718.30 were withdrawn from our account on 17th November 1997 for cheque no. 95680419. Obviously the MSDN Information Centre had cashed the cheque and collected the money.


As a consequence to this payment we did not hear anything from the MSDN Information Centre nor did we receive the MSDN CDs.


On 4th December 1997 we sent you a fax asking you about the MSDN renewal. You answered that the MSDN Information Centre failed to do anything except collect our money, because we did not pay for the VAT amount of SFR 46.69.


I asked the Swiss and Irish authorities accessible to me in Switzerland and they confirmed me in the opinion that we did not owe any VAT on products imported from Ireland. I proceeded to write you a letter on 16th December 1997 stating this point of view.


In response to that letter you insisted in a fax that we received on 17th December 1997 that «under Irish government policy, countries outside the EU must pay VAT».


As a consequence we sent you a cheque for the amount of SFR 46.69 which was withdrawn from our bank on 5th January 1998 (cheque no. 95680424).


Again we did not hear anything from the MSDN Information Centre nor did we receive any CDs.


On 14th January 1998 we asked you in a fax about the reasons for this further delay. As a reaction to this enquiry you telephoned us stating that you still had not received the VAT for our subscription. You also insisted that we give you our (Swiss) VAT number. (This seemed somewhat illogical to me in that it is you who has to give us your VAT number when you bill us.)


I proceeded to check that the cheque with the VAT amount was actually cashed by the MSDN Information Centre and telephoned with you again. I ended up having some man on the telephone who assured me that he would make sure that we promptly received the CDs which were due to us.


A few days later we finally did receive the MSDN CDs that we were entitled to. We also received a «commercial invoice» which stated that the value of the DHL package containing the CDs was $90. We assume that this reflects the value of the package contents only for customs puposes and does not refer to the price of the whole subscription, which consists of several shipments.


A week later we received a «Proforma Invoice/Order Acknowledgement» where it is stated that the subscription cost SFR 718.30, the VAT amount was SFR 46.69, and the «Amount received» was SFR 718.32. In our eyes this last statement is incorrect in that you received both the amount of SFR 718.32 for the subscription as well as the VAT amount of SFR 46.69 from us.


We proceeded to send the invoice to the Swiss VAT authorities because we can obviously get VAT back for goods that we buy. The Swiss VAT authorities told us that they need the number of the (Swiss) VAT account under which this money was paid in, in order to refund us.


On 5th February 1998 in a fax we asked you to confirm in writing in an invoice that we had indeed paid the VAT amount as well as the price of the subscription and that therefore the «Amount received» was SFR 765.00, rather than the erroneous SFR 718.32 mentioned on your invoice.


Again we did not receive an answer from you. We therefore ask you again to send us a corrected invoice which states that we did indeed pay the SFR 46.69 too. Otherwise we must insist that you return the said amount that you withdrew from our bank account when you cashed our second checque.


In addition we kindly request you to clarify who is the recipient of the VAT amount of SFR 46.69:

  1. If it is the Microsoft Information Centre then it is highly illegal to call it a «VAT» amount in that the word «tax» implies that the recipient is some government agency.
  2. If it is the state of Ireland then we shall take up the case with the Irish consulate in order to get an explanation for the strange VAT percentage of 6.5% that Swiss receivers of exported goods have to pay to the Irish authorities. We shall then consider buying a subscription directly from Microsoft in the United States in the future and boycot Ireland whereever we can.
  3. If it is the Swiss VAT agency then we kindly request you to indicate the Swiss VAT account number on the invoice. Invoices claiming Swiss VAT without the VAT account number are illegal in Switzerland.


I thank you for helping a small Swiss company to find its way through the jungle of big business and EU government bureaucracy. As soon as this matter is clarified I shall make its results public in order to help other small businesses in their dealings with Microsoft and with Ireland-based mailing pools.


I am sending copies of this letter to:

PR department of Microsoft in Switzerland:

Günter Weimer

Microsoft AG

Alte Winterthurerstrasse 14A

8304 Wallisellen



Developer Network USA:

Microsoft Developer Network

One Microsoft Way

Redmond, WA 98052-5399



Swiss VAT agency:

Eidgenössische Steuerverwaltung

Hauptabteilung Mehrwertsteuer

Schwarztorstrasse 50

3003 Bern



Irish consulate in Switzerland:

Konsulat der Irischen Republik

Parkring 12

8002 Zürich












Hartwig Thomas