Business neglecting to include gst

Im finding it more and more common of websites that are not including GST in the price of an item for sale. they only add it on just before you finalise the bill. this is actually against the law, I have visited 2 websites week to purchase something, did a lot of reaserch found a price that was good for me, only then for the price to be increased with a GST just before I paid, I wasted a lot of time doing for me to then cancelled my order

The ACCC states

"Not including the GST component means that consumers only receive part of the price information. Failing to make the total price to be paid clear in advertisements is likely to mislead consumers and breach the Trade Practices Act 1974.

"Businesses must remember that where a price is quoted, it must be clear to the consumer exactly how much he or she will be expected to pay.

"The ACCC does not want to see the United States situation develop where the price on the bill or at the cash register is different to that which was advertised. Full pricing has always been required under the Trade Practices Act and is not something that introduced with the New Tax System.

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Australian websites?

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Hi @Donkey, it would be great if you could provide links to the two websites that you indicated that you recently visited which show that GST was only added at checkout and not in the prices advertised within the website.

This would allow members to determine what may be happening in relation to pricing and GST inclusions.

I have seen websites (and trade sales catalogues) for businesses/trades (principally for commercial purchases) only showing ex-GST pricing (which is made clear by stating the price is ex-GST) as business have the opportunity to claim GST back through the BAS process. Non-GST is given in such circumstances as it is the price more relevant to businesses/trades.

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certainly has a .com.au on the end

here are the websites.

https://www.australianseed.com

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They show a price with no indication of GST excluded, and then add on the GST once it gets into the shopping basket.

You are right. That should not be considered to be in accordance with the GST requirements.

I would contact them and ask why their site is in contravention of the GST law. See what they say.

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Simply Candle Supplies is a wholesaler, and they would argue they comply with ACCC requirements, namely…

Displaying prices to other businesses only

If a business is displaying prices only to other businesses, it doesn’t need to include GST in the total price.

This is acceptable since they are a wholesaler.

The second one (Australian Seed) is interesting as I can’t find on their website where they are located. It looks dodgy and would make think twice of dealing with them. Also they don’t state if they are wholesale are retail which isn’t as clear cut as the first one. They might not meet the ACCC GST display requirements.

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Totally practical assuming they only market to other businesses and do not ever sell retail to everyday consumers. Some wholesale distributors require one to register an account before they will provide pricing. Typically because they get trade pricing or need to meet other conditions to purchase.

Of course if they provide pricing and sell to the public/consumer the ACCC rules for consumer pricing would apply to those sales. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Wouldn’t/shouldn’t B2B pricing show clearly that prices are exclusive of GST? Or state they only sell to customers with ABN’s?

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The homepage does have buttons to click on for retail and wholesale purchases. However, it still displays GST exclusive prices you select the retail option.

The below information appears on the terms and conditions page.

This doesn’t meet my definition of being up front and I would be surprised if it satisfies government requirements,

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The government defines what a wholesaler is…

While one may have their own views, it is clear the government defines wholesaler

Wholesale trade businesses purchase goods from suppliers, and then on-sell them to other businesses such as retailers.

There are also no restrictions that a wholesaler may also choose to sell direct to the public.

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Of course if they do would the following clarify whether the exemption still applies?

Only seems to be very important here. Sensibly perhaps. Price displays | ACCC.

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It isn’t an exemption but how a business can present pricing based on the majority of its customer base.

A reasonable person would assume a business caters for the majority of its customers. If it is wholesale business, it is a business that sells mostly to other businesses as outlined above. Such businesses could reasonable expected to present pricing in accordance with the ACCC displayed pricing where it doesn’t need to include GST in the displayed price. Displayed pricing could be expected to be ex-GST. Owning a business ourselves we often see exist pricing from businesses which customer base is mainly other businesses.

A reasonable person would also expect a retail business which sells to domestic customers/wider public, would have total pricing on display to include GST.

Where a business is a wholesaler and clearly states this, like Simply Candle Supplies, it could be expected that displayed prices are exist like that allowed for by the ACCC. If a consumer seeks a price from a wholesaler, they need to check whether prices quoted are exist or inclusive of GST. Both which are acceptable by the ACCC.

Where it isn’t clear a business is a wholesaler, like Australian Seed, a consumer could believe the business is a retailer where displayed total price includes GST. It isn’t clear/obvious Australian Seed is a wholesaler, but they do state that the pricing their website is ex-GST. And also states ‘Wholesale pricing available for retailers and garden centres wishing to stock our products.’ which tends to indicate retail not wholesale prices are displayed. This therefore suggests prices should be inclusive of GST.

The Australian Seed website also indicates they export seeds where GST wouldn’t apply. I can’t comment on this particular business to why exist prices are displayed, but they could make it clearer if they were a wholesaler or retailer, and if a retailer, that where total prices are displayed Australian customers are subject to GST (if pricing is ex-GST as currently displayed) or likewise foreign buyers if they decided to change their total price to he inclusive of GST.

Looking at the Australia Seed website it is likely they cater for business (nurseries, rehab, mining etc) and foreign buyers. This is a deduced from information on the website but could be made clearer if this in fact the case.

The internet has allowed retail consumers to access wholesale pricing, especially where a wholesaler displays it pricing on their website to anyone who visits. Some wholesaler take a different approach where pricing is only given to those who hold accounts and are bona fide business customers.

The original post was it is unlawful for (all) businesses to display prices ex-GST. It has been shown that this isn’t correct, and only applies to retail businesses and not wholesalers.

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The ATO says ‘Only’, not ‘mostly’.

One way to put it, but that’s not what the ATO says. At this point agreeing to disagree and leaving others to decide for themselves seems very appropriate.

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The ACCC states displaying prices only to other businesses. Not that products are only to be sold to other businesses. Likewise the ATO doesn’t state a wholesaler must only sell to another business. There is a difference. Simply Candles being a wholesaler is displaying prices for such purposes. If they also decide to sell to the wider public when their target customers are businesses, it is up to them. As I indicated above, "There are also no restrictions that a wholesaler may also choose to sell direct to the public’. If there were legal restrictions, many wholesalers who chose also to sell occasionally to the wider public would be operating unlawfully.

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In these times of internet access and ever fewer companies that refuse to sell to anyone with a dollar to offer them, in my view a ‘reasonable person’ would expect all prices to be shown as ex/GST whenever that is the case, and inc/GST as the default.

If a business only sells B2B a statement that all pricing is ex/GST would be good form if not explicitly mandated. Business practices can vary from good to poor regardless of whether they are within any given laws.

Moving a bit OT many tradies, especially arborists but also many others, quote ex/GST and show it, so it is not just a B2B issue, it is sometimes how it is (or is not) presented to the consumer.

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They make it reasonably clear that they are both a wholesaler and a retailer. The below if from the homepage of their website.


If you click on the “shop retail” button the prices displayed are GST exclusive. Is this within the law?

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It possibly wouldn’t be as indicated in the original post. For retail, displayed prices should include GST. Their website is a little confusing though, as they also indicate that retail customers are retailers and garden centres - which are in fact business customers who sell retail.

Simply Candles indicates that they are a wholesaler, so having ex-GST prices on their website would meet ACCC GST price display requirements.

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Where do you see that? If you select a product to go into the shopping basket, it defaults to one quantity. That is not wholesale, that is retail.

And from their website

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