airport shopping
14 Aug 2015

Airport Shopping – The VAT Rip Off

Even before the sound of the applause has died down from the EU law that allows us to claim flight delay compensation, we learn that money is being made out of us by fat cat companies in the airport departure lounge.

It is hard to resist the airport shopping promotions displayed around the airport departure lounge, and for most of us indulging in a bit of “tax and duty-free shopping” is the beginning of our holiday. Or even, a purchase that we have put off waiting for that next business trip so that we could save a few quid by buying it at the airport.

Savings? What Savings?

It seems that we haven’t been making a saving at all, and in fact have only been lining the pockets of the fat cat companies that have outlets in the airport. They know who they are, Dixons, W H Smiths and Boots to name but a few. Making us go through the palaver of routing through our luggage to hand over our boarding cards at the point of sale, but for what?

As travellers it was understood that the production of the boarding card when purchasing airport shopping was to prove that the travel was inside the EU, which meant the goods would be “tax free”. Although some companies are passing on these tax deductions to the consumer many aren’t, and the production of the boarding card simply allows the company to claim the 20% vat.

This “scam” came to light earlier this week, as reported by the Guardian, from Treasury Minister David Gaude who said:

“The VAT relief at airports is intended to reduce prices for travellers, not as a windfall gain for shops. While many retailers do pass this saving on to customers, it is disappointing that some are choosing not to. We urge all airside retailers to use this relief for the benefit of their customers.”

Refusal to Show Boarding Pass

This announcement has caused passengers to revolt by refusing to show their boarding passes to prevent retailers from claiming the 20% from the government. Sales staff soon back down from “company” policy of needing the boarding pass when passengers explain they know the loophole, as reported by the Daily Mail:

“Economics teacher Kerrie Whelan, 43, from Manchester, said her partner Ian Chisnall, also 43, refused to show his boarding pass at Manchester airport yesterday after learning of the loophole.

She said: ‘Ian bought some items in Boots and refused to give over his boarding card. The assistant gave the party line and said it was company policy and to determine who was flying out of EU.

‘But Ian was having none of it and they did serve him after he said he knew the situation and it was unfair that Boots could claim back the VAT when the rest of us pay it and he wanted the VAT to go back into the country rather than their profits.’”

So, will you be showing your boarding card when you are next shopping in the airport? Let us know your thoughts on this matter in the comments.


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