Common Tariff 3a: A hundred thousand new SUISA business customers | plus video

With regards to Common Tariff 3a (CT 3a), SUISA has been managing all customers directly again since 01 January 2019. In order to do so, data of about 100,000 customers which received their 3a invoices via Billag in the past years, has been migrated into the SUISA systems. A new team of 16 staff is responsible for all customers of this tariff and provides customer service in four languages. In the meantime, more than 58,000 invoices have left the building – time to take a first provisional look back. Text by Martin Korrodi; Video by Sibylle Roth

On 15 February 2019, SUISA dispatched the first 1,000 CT 3a invoices for usage period 2019 to customers such as selling businesses, shopping malls, catering outlets or guesthouse landlords. Prior to the first dispatch, the migrated Billag data was analysed and manually cleaned up in order to ensure that the invoices were going to be correctly generated. The dispatch scope was intentionally kept small so that any technical or organisational problems could be detected and resolved quickly.

With increasing experience, the dispatch volume could be increased step by step – this way, after five months (February to June), more than half of the 3a customers have already received an invoice. Until mid-June, about 58,000 invoices were sent out with a total invoiced of nearly CHF 17 million. From April onwards, and in addition to the invoices, the first reminders had to be dispatched, from May the second reminders so that up to 20,000 mailings per month left the building.

CT 3a customer service in numbers

In line with the big number of invoices and reminders, the customer service must process a lot of feedback and queries. More than 2,000 phone conversations with customers were held in May alone, and about 600 electronic messages (contact forms and e-mails) were processed. Add to that about 160 mailings that reach us per month via traditional post.

What’s great is that many of our customers visit our website and use the online portal for their queries and issues. Since the beginning of the year, 504 new customers registered online and obtained a CT3a licence, and 1,419 customers asked questions regarding their invoices via the online portal. The tariff allows a 5% discount to those customers who use the online portal for processing their CT 3a business with SUISA.

Under the leadership of Nevio Tebaldi, a team of 16 people is looking after the 3a customers; they share 12 full-time positions (1,200 in job percent). During the development phase, three additional people who support the team and take over duties in the field of data cleanup are available temporarily.

Frequently asked questions

The most frequently asked questions by the customers affect the new responsibility for the invoicing process from 2019. The systems change in terms of the radio and TV reception fees and the closure of the Billag AG seem to have created confusion so that customers do not always understand why they receive an invoice from SUISA and what the purpose of the owed fee is.

The confusion of the copyright fee with the radio and TV reception fees is probably due to the fact that Billag had dispatched both invoices until the end of 2018 – one of them on behalf of the Federal Office of Communication (Bakom) and the other one on behalf of SUISA. Within the commercial field, this co-operation made absolute sense since businesses which run a radio or TV set in their business location do not just have to pay the fee to the Bakom but – unlike private persons – require an additional licence for copyright pursuant to CT 3a.

From 2019, the starting point for radio and TV reception fees has changed fundamentally: A general fee is replacing the previously device-based reception fee. This general fee will be levied nationwide to all households and businesses. The obligation to pay the fee as well as the amount of the levy is, additionally, depending on the turnover of businesses: Businesses with a turnover of less than CHF 500,000 are exempt of the fee – businesses with higher turnovers are automatically invoiced by the Federal Tax Administration Office in a six-tier tariff category system.

With regards to the copyright fees based on CT 3a, there are, however, no major changes: The tariff continues to depend on the actual usage scope and is thus based on the area music is piped to. There is no turnover threshold – even businesses with less than CHF 500,000 have to pay a fee for copyright. The only “change” affects the sender of the invoices which is no longer Billag but SUISA.

The “successor” of Billag, Serafe AG plays no role for business customers since it exclusively invoices private households with the radio and TV reception fees on behalf of Bakom and has therefore nothing to do with businesses.

New contacts for businesses from 2019. (Graphics: Sibylle Roth)


Usage scope covered by CT 3a
The following usages are relevant for CT 3a: all exploitations in venues outside domestic and private circle or home life, such as in selling businesses, shopping malls, restaurants, lounges, office spaces, work spaces, storage spaces, company vehicles (car radio), ski lift stations, meeting rooms, seminar rooms, guest rooms (these are defined as guest and patient rooms as well as holiday homes), museums, exhibitions etc.
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