The airport retail rip-off

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Alcohol frequently has dual pricing depending on whether you fly within or outside Europe. Why not everything else?

Alcohol frequently has dual pricing depending on whether you fly within or outside Europe. Why not everything else?

Today The Independent and its alter ego, The I, have a fascinating story about the fact that some retail outlets at airports are ripping us off by not allowing a VAT reduction when we fly outside Europe.

I suggest all of you read it.

The gist is that if you fly outside Europe then the stores do not have to pay VAT. But do they give us that reduction? Not necessarily. Some pocket the money themselves thus boosting their profits.

I think most of us who have flown through an airport have bought something and been asked for our boarding card. The boarding card is proof we are flying within Europe or outside it which I did know having quizzed different sales staff at airports over the years. I have been told that the reason it was needed was for government figures. It now appears that was humbug.

Retailers don’t have to refund the VAT element or reduce prices to compensate. In the Duty Free Shops you see green and blue labels at the spirits counter indicating whether the prices are for those travelling within or outside Europe. Other retailers could have similar dual pricing if they want to be honest and transparent.

The story says that Boots could be one of the offenders as could W H Smith. Harrods gets a clean bill of health and it is unclear whether Dixons is making a VAT reducation to passengers or not.

Let me make it plain. What retailers are doing is not illegal. It is just taking advantage of us. From now on, I will refuse to hand over my boarding pass and the government can keep the VAT element when I travel outside Europe. And if I am refused service because I won’t hand it over, readers of Just about Travel will hear about it shortly after I e-mail the airport’s and the retailer’s CEO.

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