warning: detaxe

Old Oct 27th, 2004, 04:51 AM
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warning: detaxe

Just got back from a great 2 days in London and 4 days in Paris. Seriously jet lagged--in bed at 6 p.m. and up at 3:30 a.m.! Although great trip, did want to send a warning regarding getting that 12% back on taxes. Our experience makes me think there is a conspiracy to keep the taxes in France. Where we bought my new coat in paris did not give me the tax form--and I did not think about it until I showed it at the airport and they said I couldn't get the tax back without the form--the receipt is not sufficient. Mephisto shoes is great--you don't have to remember to ask them and they give you an envelope with a stamp to mail back with the forms. Printemps makes you go to a separate section in the store to get your tax paperwork filled out before you leave the store--they close at 7 p.m. so you need to figure out time to do this before they close. OK--so we did have the Printemps paperwork filled out but still did not get our tax refund at the airport. Why? Because after 1 hour running around the airport, we found out that the man at the tax refund booth had stamped the RECEIPTS and not the tax refund form so the American Express booth would not accept the forms. So--NO REFUND. This is after we arrived 2 hours in advance of our flight.

So--my recommendations are:
1) don't plan on getting your tax refund. If you are successful, then smile. But, don't spend as if you will get it back because maybe you won't!
2) always ask for the tax forms before you leave the shop if you spend a hefty amount; plan enough time in case you need to go to another part of the store to get this done (e.g, Printemps)
3) if you consolidate purchases between two people to reach that minimum limit, the person whose name is on the form needs to be the one who goes to the tax refund place at the airport--they need to show their passport
4) you need to show your purchases at the tax refund booth at the airport. This means DO THIS BEFORE YOU CHECK IN.
5) Get to the airport 3 hours ahead of your flight. If you want a cash refund, you will have to go to a special American Express booth after the tax refund booth--and not ANY American Express booth either.
6) Check to make sure that your FORM and not you receipts are stamped
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Old Oct 27th, 2004, 05:09 AM
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ira
 
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Hi LA,

I have been waiting since 2001 to get my VAT refund from France, and I had all of the forms properly stamped and the merchandise inspected by a custom's agent.
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Old Oct 27th, 2004, 05:29 AM
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I hope you're joking, ira.

Isn't there a phone number on the VAT form you can use to try to call?

I think that there's a way you can resend your forms if you don't have the refund within a couple of weeks (there're usually two copies -- one for the customer and one for the VAT authorities).

I think that I've had fairly good luck with VAT refunds, if I remember to claim them, but there could be a time or two when I never got my refunds back (obviously I forget to follow up as well).
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Old Oct 27th, 2004, 07:14 AM
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I have never had a problem getting my credit back on my detax.
Galleries Lafayette is great for that, you carry everything to the top floor and show them your passport and receipts, they are quick and easy about it all.
I am sorry to hear that you had a problem. I have never had trouble with this but these are good tips for anyone traveling anywhere.
We always get our money/credit within 2 months of our return to the US.

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Old Oct 27th, 2004, 04:17 PM
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While I was in Paris two weeks ago I shopped at both Galleries Lafayette stores.

Found out too late at the last store that I could not receive one form for all purchases. If you by merchandise from both stores, you have to get a tax rebate form with a stamped envelope from each Galleries Lafayette store.

I did have to show my passport and receipts, not merchandise to get the refund form filled out at the store's customer service desk. At the airport VAT desk, only had to show passport, not merchandise. Took only a few minutes to get the form's final stamp and to drop it into a mailbox.

The refund is to be creditied to my Amex account.

I didn't say anything when he refused the merchandise from the first store, but the customer service manager insisted that I accept a gift from the store to make up for my mistake.

Even though I protested that it was not at all necessary, he gave me a lovely maroon tote bag with a Galleries Lafayette brass label. So very nice, so thoughtful and I really enjoy having a new tennis bag.
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Old Oct 27th, 2004, 04:35 PM
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Sorry to shoot holes in your conspiracy theory, but it's a simple matter of knowing in advance exactly what you have to do. For one, it's YOUR responsibility to ask for the form, and not assume that the store will automatically give you one. We've had no problems getting our refunds after all four of our European trips since 1999.
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 01:02 AM
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Must be the jetlag but Howard--you don't seem to be a very understanding person. We DID get the forms from Printemps and follow all the instructions and still are out over 200 euros!
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 01:10 AM
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P.S.--There is clearly signs at the Paris CDG airport tax refund office that you HAVE to show your merchandise.
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 01:37 AM
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There are often a variety of good reasons why things don't always go as planned but use of conspiracy theories usually implies denial of any and all responsibility.
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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OK folks. Stop beating me up.

I am sharing MY experience--and hopefully will spare someone the aggravation I experienced--and maybe they will get THEIR refund back.

Glad that you got your refunds back.

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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 06:44 AM
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lacontessa, you're missing the point.
We are merely responding to your ludicrous claim that there is a conspiracy by the French to deprive tourists of their VAT refunds.
Don't be so defensive!
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 07:11 AM
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Hi
I'm sorry about people not getting their refunds, but I also disagree with 'there is a conspiracy to keep the taxes in France.'
There are some inconveniences, but I don't see it as a conspiracy.

When I've tried, it has worked for me.
It's not just a matter, just in case anyone else doesn't realize, of getting the forms stamped at the airport, the forms also have to be mailed back to the store.

www.globalrefund.com

http://goeurope.about.com/gi/dynamic...2Fnews%2F0205%
2Fvat.htm

http://www.frommers.com/destinations...062034185.html

have good info on this
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 07:35 AM
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While the merchandise isn't always inspected at the airport, it's a good idea to have it easily available, as it's supposed to be inspected. My experiences have varied.

After all, the point of this is that the merchandise is not supposed to remain in the EU (?) -- it's supposed to be taken out of the EU to be used.
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 08:08 AM
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Obviously folks are getting offended by the word "conspiracy". Perhaps that wasn't the right word. You must agree, though, that they don't make it easy to get the tax back. What I experienced is much more than "inconvenience." Besides having to run around to multiple places in the airport (no less than 4!), and having to retrieve my daughter from the checkin line, the gentleman who supposedly knew what he was doing (this was indeed his job to do the tax refund paperwork) stamps the receipts and not the paperwork so I am out over 200 euros.

If you have been successful each and every time, then more power to you. Please share your secrets. How would you have handled my circumstance?
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 08:20 AM
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I think that you were just unlucky that the forms weren't stamped. Otherwise though, well, obviously employees are not going to care as to whether you get your money back. So it's not a conspiracy. It's apathy. And who wants to fill these forms out? So unless you ask for them at a store, you're not given them. My problem is that I tend to forget my passport and can't (technically) prove that I'm a foreigner. Well, of course, they believe me, but they at least require a passport number, which I guess I should memorize.
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 09:10 AM
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How would I have handled your circumstance? You actually answered your own question in your original posting--specifically, get to the airport 3 hours ahead of your flight!

Getting there 2 hours ahead of time really leaves little margin for error.
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 09:22 AM
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"You must agree, though, that they don't make it easy to get the tax back."

I don't think I've ever seen 'tax' and 'easy' in the same sentence. Is there a country in the world that makes tax easy?
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 11:44 AM
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I don't even bother trying to get the VAT tax back. It just seems like too much trouble. Probably not the smartest decision I know but one thing I love about being on vacation is lack of paperwork that I seem to have to do all of time at home (have a pile of mail from yesterday staring me in the face and still have to go out and get todays, yuck).

Other than not attempting to get the VATS taxes back I am very good at being financially responsible. Guess it is the one "break" I give myself.
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 11:56 AM
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I've never bothered. I'm lazy - it may be worth it (especially all that leather in Italy - wooooheeeeee!) but I'm one of those who never applies for a refund nor clips coupons. too much effort & the thrill of shopping is long gone...
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Old Oct 28th, 2004, 12:01 PM
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Well, usually the store fills in the form for you, so it's not that much trouble to ask for it. 10% on $200 Euros, say, is sizeable.

The appropriate item can easily be 20% cheaper if you buy in Europe (if you claim the taxes back) as opposed to the US (if you live here, you'll have to pay taxes).

At the bigger stores, this may even be computerized, and the computer can easily generate the relevant forms that need to be presented for customs.

It's not as difficult as you think. I was really impressed with El Corte Ingles on a recent trip. Receipts can be aggegrated across stores (Seville + Madrid) and across dates. I was presented with computer printouts. It was very easy.

The thing is to remember to ask for them. I once bought an expensive bottle of wine and forgot to ask for my forms, and I obviously regretted it.

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