Beware of Import Levies & Taxes When You Buy Goods From Abroad

Written by Karen Bryan

samsung mobile phonesI thought that it was about time for me to upgrade to a better mobile phone. I currently have two mobiles. My main mobile is a Samsung Wave 2 S8530 which has a just about adequately sized 3.7 inch inch screen, takes good outdoor photos, but is slow for downloading emails and browsing, plus the battery life isn’t great. My back up mobile is a Samsung Ace, which was free when I signed up to a new half price Vodafone 24 month contract. It’s much faster for email downloads and browsing, but I find the 3.5 inch screen too small and the photo quality isn’t great.

The main things I was looking for in a new mobile phone were:

  • A screen size of at least 4 inches
  • Long battery life
  • A good camera
  • Easy to use
  • Good reviews

I wanted to buy an unlocked PAYG phone, as I still have 14 months to go on my current Vodafone contract.

Most of the mobiles which fitted the requirements cost between £300 – £500, so I did some searches to find the lowest price.

An LG G2 16GB mobile cost £259.99 from eGlobalDigital with free standard delivery, the next best price was £316.97 plus £4.97 standard delivery, a total of  £321.94, on the laptopsdirect.co.uk site.

I hadn’t heard of the eGlobalDigital.co.uk site, plus I was curious as to how their price could be £61.95 less than any other retailer, so I did a search for reviews. Many of the reviewers mentioned that as eGlobalDigital is based in Hong Kong, UK residents had to pay VAT on their purchases before the goods could be delivered. Several reviewers complained that this was not made crystal clear on the eGlobalDigital site when making a purchase.

I had to trawl around the eGlobalDigital site to find reference to this on their ‘Why Buy From Us‘ page, as an addition to the ‘Free & Fast Shipping’ section. I have to admit that I’d probably assume that a website with a co.uk suffix was a UK-based business.

I worked out that 20% VAT added onto the eGlobalDigital price of  £260 would be £52, bringing the total price from eGlobalDigital to £312. As I could earn 2% cashback (around £6) buying from laptopsdirect (based in the UK) through the link on the TopCashBack.co.uk. The price differential was shrinking fast.

I noticed that I could only pay by paypal on the eGlobalDigital site, meaning I’d miss out on the cashback of £5 by paying with my Halifax Clarity credit card on the laptopsdirect site.

When I also factored in dealing with a UK firm versus one based overseas if I had any problems with the mobile phone, I’d have bought the LG G2 from the laptopsdirect site.

So do make sure that you check out the geographic location of the supplier from whom you’re purchasing. Then compare the total price to be paid versus buying the goods from a UK-based supplier (where VAT will be included in the displayed price), before assuming that you’re bagging a bargain.