CHOICE membership

Gerry Harvey wins, but still complains! Major loss of competition



It could get worse:

> The Department of Home Affairs proposal would see a $5 tax imposed on every package containing items worth less than $1000 sent from overseas.


Why should we be surprised? I’m sure some Australian billionnaires are chuckling in their sleep at the moment.

That said, I prefer the original source for the story - having an intense mistrust of any Murdoch-infected outlet and noting their acknowledgement that it wasn’t their discovery (a nice change).

The problem appears to be that The Department of Home Affairs has not woken up to the world of online shopping and reassessed its risk model. Customs does not scan every import now, and won’t in the future - this appears to be a bid for money and an inability to update your risk assessments to reflect the changing nature of imports.

On the bright side, both articles were published pre-budget, and I am pretty sure that if the budget contained such a levy it would have made front page news. It is basically a trade protection measure that would see rapid and painful retaliation from our trading ‘partners’.

Disclosure statement: I have in the past shopped online, and I intend to continue to do so. Today I purchased two hair thingummies for my wife. They will arrive from China in a month or two. Total cost: $2, with free shipping ($1 each).


The last budget, yes. The next …?

The WTO would probably judge it a non-tariff trade barrier.

It did get worse:

Quite possibly no more than a kite-flying exercise, but a worrying indication of attitude.


So postulative your saying i’m lucky enough to get service when i’m trying to buy good luck if i have a problem…Sorry have to disagree if you do run into a problem at least you can return it and get a refund or even swap it over for something.Buy from one of those on-line places from overseas i bet you would have a lot more trouble than you would think.May not even give a refund then your stuffed quite simple really.Buying overseas is risky not the other way around.And once again i will point out you shop around you can get some really good deals do your homework and you will really do very well and then the overseas options never look that good then.Australia is always going to be a better outcome,and then also looking after the local work force


Please don’t misquote me. I merely pointed out that many people in this thread have found Harvey Norman a very difficult place to shop. I know from experience of other stores that are similarly difficult.

I should also mention that some of the main raisons d’être for Choice are the trouble people have with shops, products they buy, and attempting to obtain restitution for dodgy products.

I can only talk to my own experience, and the experiences others have shared with me or with us. If you have found that you can get what you are shopping for at good prices locally, then I wish you all the best in that - but I have this thing about anti-competitive practices if we are in a ‘global economy’. (A discussion of whether the current ‘global economy’ is a good, sensible, profitable or safe idea would need to be separate to this thread.)

Yeah… no. I am a compulsive comparer who can take six months to decide which $50 product to buy, meaning I most definitely shop around. In some cases buying locally makes sense; in others, the local price can be $20 and the price from China is $1. That’s a big mark-up for exactly the same item (in this case, hair thingummies). My wife may have been able to find them in a $2 shop for between $2 and $5, but that remains more expensive.

I won’t go into the details of how I have obtained refunds from overseas, but suffice it to say it’s as difficult as it is in Australia - i.e. it depends on the supplier.


@Buzz3 This local workforce you are talking about looking after - can’t be manufacturing jobs as the vast majority of stuff sold in Aussie retailers is made overseas and imported. You must be talking about the retail staff, so I’m guessing you’re thinking this is an idea by Turncoat etc. to look after retail workers? Those same workers who are just about to get a huge pay cut because Turncoat etc. are cutting penalty rates? Don’t need to head down the pub to test this one, argument about whether Turncoat etc. are all for the retail worker doesn’t make it out my front door lol.
If the jobs you are talking about are the tax agents, accountants, real estate agents, etc. of government ministers, Gerry Harvey & co then yes, I’d have to agree with you :slight_smile:


So eBay (for instance) is going to charge and collect GST on behalf of the Australian Government. And send that money to the ATO, presumably. How will the ATO know if they have been sent the correct amount of GST?


I regularly buy wooden jigsaw puzzles from Amazon that are not available within stores in Australia. If these now have to be purchased from the amazon Australia site they will be a lot more expensive. An example. A puzzle for $USD76 sells for $AUD163. The difference is more than the shipping costs and GST!!


They will conduct occasional audits, of course - as with any Australian company. Ebay, while almost certainly not liable under Australian law to this extent, will no doubt be happy to open its books to the ATO, displaying all of its international business dealings and tax-avoiding ‘transfers’.


I just ordered a book from the Book Depository.
Local price: $AU59.00, plus $AU16.70 delivery.
Price ex UK: $AU43.55, delivery included.

'Nuff said.


My point exactly!..


Shopping online is something I do, too. Camera lenses, when the exchange rate is good. Shoes, believe it or not. But not brand name things. Not things I can buy at a REASONABLE price from HN or anywhere else. I’ve bought some German shoes, they are like Birkenstocks but a fraction of the price. I need the style, but on a pension cant afford to pay for a pair of Birkenstocks. CPAP supplies are another thing. If local suppliers dont stock your favourite mask, bad luck. Well, no. I want a particular kind, and if I have to get it from OS, so be it. The one I used to use is not being made anymore, but when it was, I could get it for $USD39, or buy it in Australia from a local supplier for $230. Wheres the sense in that? Especially since it would only last for around 12 months.


The ATO has significant audit powers and can, if it choses, verify GST receipts.

EBay is also no different to any other business operating in Australia. These busines are required ro collect GST on behalf of the government.


Does the Gov / Gerry Harvey seriously expect that the little Chinese family in China flogging mobile phones / phone covers / accessories is going to collect and send the GST + paperwork to the ATO. Yes possibly big overseas companies may, but from what items I have bought over Ebay from China, I suspect that they already have trouble understanding English.


‘Official’ response: “It is everyone’s responsibility to understand the laws of their country and the laws of the countries with which they trade.”

Reality: “Er, um, well we… maybe we should write to each Chinese business. There can’t be that many, right?”

Reality about the ‘official’ response: Not even the legislators can keep track of the laws they keep passing, along with all of the regulations and directions. The concept that ‘ignorance of the law is no excuse’ has been overtaken by reality, and by zealous lawmakers who need to look busy when the next election comes around. Police officers have stated as fact that if they follow any driver for ten minutes they will be able to find something with which to book them.


I once rang the ATO to ask how to report a US sourced pension vis a vis the relevant tax treaty. A simple question I thought. I was eventually passed to 5 different specialists before one could advise me. It is really that simple to understand our tax laws

As I previously posted our Victoria road rules are in excess of 500 pages where the US state of Texas equivalent is just on 100. We do have our talent in drafting legislation, not exactly good.


Interestingly, this is apparently the single area of law in which ignorance is an excuse - in the US. Of course, while you point out that Texan road rules are 20% the length of those in Victoria this ignores many other US laws that are better suited to 1812 than to 2012 (such as where hitching posts should be located). It also isn’t clear whether Texan and Victorian laws use the same font (presumably Texas uses the larger ‘Letter’ size of paper).

Which has me wondering about laws regulating the paper size, colour and weight upon which laws are to be printed, the font to be used, the number of copies that are to be produced, and the appropriate means of binding? How do such laws vary state by state?


I did not check the veracity, but a few of our own gems. Some keep coming up :smiley:

and a few here are suspect but still amusing

A faux argument :wink: A4 is a bit narrower and longer. If I multiplied correctly printable area for A4 is 62370 sq mm vs 60322 sq mm for letter.


Businesses that are registered for GST are required to collect GST. Not all businesses are required to be registered for GST.


You did indeed, if you are equating printable and total area. For some reason, I had always thought letter was longer - maybe the documents I am thinking of are on a different non-standard paper size. My mistake.

In the meantime, let’s not get into some sort of side-argument about who has the craziest laws… especially when my first counter-list includes the fact that plastic bags are banned in Californian retailers - something I do not see as being at all crazy.