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Shapeways - Magical price increases between Cart and Checkout: How is this not a rip off?


Edwardian
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I don't seem to have much luck with this company, which really does seem to be a law unto itself.  Recently I was doorstopped by the courier to handover an extra hundred quid because, post BREXIT, VAT and various semi-bogus charges are now hidden costs, not made clear at the website point of sale.

 

Feedback from the Parish suggests that this may be avoided if orders are kept to below GBP 135.

 

So, I tried to place an order yesterday.

 

I selected two items, thus:

 

639732327_Cart1.png.421336af12930ba9cc2b82dc1508ee7c.png

 

Two items, showing the advertised price and amounting to $126.16.

 

Yet, click on 'Checkout Now' and ....

 

1912623813_Cart2.png.93e8c45d904eabee151d3d03bf7be77e.png

 

Magically each product has gone up in price by about $12. So, instead of the $126.16 worth of product I thought I was buying is now, through the magic of deception, now $151.39. 

 

$25.23 has been added to the price.  Let's be clear, the handling/processing and shipping charges are all on top of the the $151.39;  $151.39 relates only to what was advertised as the cost of the product, and reflected in the Cart as $126.16.

 

Why?  There is certainly no explanation offered by the website process you follow.

 

It's like getting to the supermarket checkout and just having to pay more than the prices on the shelves. 

 

I'm pretty sure that if a UK supplier did this, Trading Standards would be very interested to learn about it.

 

As it is, I just feel I'm being held to ransom or mugged.  Surely this is sharp practice to say the least?

 

Of course, I have a choice not to proceed with the order, and, so far, I haven't. But that's not a satisfactory outcome for anyone, least of all the Shapeways vendor (because I'd bet this is not down to them or within their control) and I think that it's a practice that in principle is just wrong.

 

Anyone else had this?  

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s 20%. They’re adding VAT, which is correct for orders under £135. I’d not like to guarantee you won’t get hit again on import though, given the full order value with VAT and shipping will then be over the threshold.

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Having watched a few "Americans in Europe/Britain" type YouTube videos are you sure that they are not adding sales tax?

I am certainly no expert on the subject but from what was said by the American posters this mark up is common in the US.

 

Each State in the Union has its own laws 

They independently set their sales tax/VAT or whatever which varies from State to State.

As a result it is not possible for a supplier to quote a single price because State A taxes at 10% whereas B taxes at 15%.

It is apparently quite common to advertise an item at the cost price in the knowlege that the purchaser will expect to pay more because of the system.

 

Believe it or not the said American posters eulogise about the simplicity of a system whereby what it sales on the price tag is what you pay!

 

I am not saying that this is the reason for Shapeways actions but it might explain it.

 

Ian T

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2 hours ago, Edwardian said:

Recently I was doorstopped by the courier to handover an extra hundred quid because, post BREXIT, VAT and various semi-bogus charges are now hidden costs, not made clear at the website point of sale.

 

In the UK? Which couriers still collect on the doorstep? All of the big ones send me an invoice some time after delivery.

 

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I have this the other way round sometimes as I live outside the UK or EU tax regimes but have a UK postcode, and the value sometimes decreases. Before I say any more, remember there are only 2 Shapeways sales bases globally serving hundreds of countries (one in the Netherlands and one in the US).

 

There is a convention since Brexit between the EU and UK where UK VAT on orders up to 135 quid is collected by the retailer at the point of sale, if an item is coming into the UK. This is to de-complicate collection at the point of delivery (i.e. reduce the number of deliveries requiring collection of VAT by the post office or courier by removing smaller value purchases from the grand scheme of things).

 

At the point the items are in your cart, SW doesn't know what the total value of your cart will be in order to finalise your order price as you may still add other items. Only when you convert your cart to a checkout will SW then know that the total value is under 135 (in which case it adds the VAT) or over 135 (in which case the VAT is collected from you at delivery). I don't think that's sharp practices, just SW applying charges appropriate to the value, once it knows the final order value. Previously to Brexit the cart would have just shown the higher amount beforehand.

 

If the item is over the 135 value and the charges are not paid by you at sale but are collected at delivery, those are not hidden, they became a "thing" when the UK left the EU and they are what every country has to deal with when they are outside a taxation union. Again, SW cannot predict those charges as it doesn't always know the full chain for couriers to deliver. My orders to Bermuda when I lived there were initiated by UPS at SW in the Netherlands but as UPS doesn't have a local presence in Bermuda, final delivery is subcontracted to a local company who takes their cut and charges handling (which may vary depending on the customer's actions in collecting or being at home for delivery) and a fee for collecting duty on behalf of the Government in whichever country.

 

Shapeways cannot possibly be expected to know that figure or risk giving a firm estimate. They also allow the billing address and delivery address to be in different countries (a godsend for many of us remote island dwellers who can arrange to have stuff delivered to friends in Blighty or a consolidating forwarder to reduce the shipping costs) so again, it doesn't just base your order's tax cost on your IP location or billing address, but only finalises it when the delivery address is specified.

 

Similarly, your shipping and handling, and processing costs get added at checkout because you can choose different speeds of each, it doesn't know what choices you are going to make until you finalise your order.

 

Calling them rip-off merchants or accusing them of deceipt is a bit out of order, unless you can come up with a workable and better system that doesn't require you having to pay VAT on your doorstep for smaller orders.   They are just making the best adjustment they can to deal with the consequences of Brexit and you are simply seeing in the UK what the rest of the world already has. 

 

 

Edited by ianmianmianm
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15 minutes ago, ianmianmianm said:

At the point the items are in your cart, SW doesn't know what the total value of your cart will be in order to finalise your order price as you may still add other items. Only when you convert your cart to a checkout will SW then know that the total value is under 135 (in which case it adds the VAT) or over 135 (in which case the VAT is collected from you at delivery). I don't think that's sharp practices, just SW applying charges appropriate to the value, once it knows the final order value. Previously to Brexit the cart would have just shown the higher amount beforehand.

While that's true, why don't they make it clearer? Simple a little "Including VAT" underneath on the second page would help...

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2 hours ago, ianmianmianm said:

I have this the other way round sometimes as I live outside the UK or EU tax regimes but have a UK postcode, and the value sometimes decreases. Before I say any more, remember there are only 2 Shapeways sales bases globally serving hundreds of countries (one in the Netherlands and one in the US).

 

There is a convention since Brexit between the EU and UK where UK VAT on orders up to 135 quid is collected by the retailer at the point of sale, if an item is coming into the UK. This is to de-complicate collection at the point of delivery (i.e. reduce the number of deliveries requiring collection of VAT by the post office or courier by removing smaller value purchases from the grand scheme of things).

 

At the point the items are in your cart, SW doesn't know what the total value of your cart will be in order to finalise your order price as you may still add other items. Only when you convert your cart to a checkout will SW then know that the total value is under 135 (in which case it adds the VAT) or over 135 (in which case the VAT is collected from you at delivery). I don't think that's sharp practices, just SW applying charges appropriate to the value, once it knows the final order value. Previously to Brexit the cart would have just shown the higher amount beforehand.

 

If the item is over the 135 value and the charges are not paid by you at sale but are collected at delivery, those are not hidden, they became a "thing" when the UK left the EU and they are what every country has to deal with when they are outside a taxation union. Again, SW cannot predict those charges as it doesn't always know the full chain for couriers to deliver. My orders to Bermuda when I lived there were initiated by UPS at SW in the Netherlands but as UPS doesn't have a local presence in Bermuda, final delivery is subcontracted to a local company who takes their cut and charges handling (which may vary depending on the customer's actions in collecting or being at home for delivery) and a fee for collecting duty on behalf of the Government in whichever country.

 

Shapeways cannot possibly be expected to know that figure or risk giving a firm estimate. They also allow the billing address and delivery address to be in different countries (a godsend for many of us remote island dwellers who can arrange to have stuff delivered to friends in Blighty or a consolidating forwarder to reduce the shipping costs) so again, it doesn't just base your order's tax cost on your IP location or billing address, but only finalises it when the delivery address is specified.

 

Similarly, your shipping and handling, and processing costs get added at checkout because you can choose different speeds of each, it doesn't know what choices you are going to make until you finalise your order.

 

Helpful

 

2 hours ago, ianmianmianm said:

Calling them rip-off merchants or accusing them of deceipt is a bit out of order, unless you can come up with a workable and better system that doesn't require you having to pay VAT on your doorstep for smaller orders.   They are just making the best adjustment they can to deal with the consequences of Brexit and you are simply seeing in the UK what the rest of the world already has. 

 

 

 

Not so much.

 

All I'm shown, as an intending customer, is an unexpected and unexplained price hike.

 

But, you go on explaining to annoyed people why they shouldn't be annoyed, as that's surely bound to make them less annoyed ;) !

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2 hours ago, ianmianmianm said:

There is a convention since Brexit between the EU and UK where UK VAT on orders up to 135 quid is collected by the retailer at the point of sale, if an item is coming into the UK. This is to de-complicate collection at the point of delivery (i.e. reduce the number of deliveries requiring collection of VAT by the post office or courier by removing smaller value purchases from the grand scheme of things).

 

.............

 

If the item is over the 135 value and the charges are not paid by you at sale but are collected at delivery, those are not hidden, they became a "thing" when the UK left the EU and they are what every country has to deal with when they are outside a taxation union.

 

Actually not really...

 

Since the 1st July the EU has changed the way in which VAT is handled/levied, a "breakpoint" in the new arrangements are sales of 150 Euro, hence the £135 mentioned above. 

 

details of VAT changes

 

This has nothing whatever to do with Brexit. Apart from anything else it is a change that applies to EU member states as well as countries outside the EU - everyone in fact..

 

The BBC has not carried any reporting of these VAT changes (that I can see), which is very strange as they have affected many folk and businesses.

 

The cynic in me thinks this is because the changes, for once, don't support the "Brexit was bad for us" mantra which is so depressingly prevalent in Blighty at the moment.

 

Shame on the BBC.

 

Apologies to Auntie if I have missed something, I'm sure the good burghers of RMweb will put me right if I am wrong....

 

I would be interested in hearing any factual information or informed comment on why the EU have made these changes. 

 

I do not ask this from any "anti EU" standpoint.

 

Simon

 

 

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The VAT change was an EU-wide one to try and make sure that VAT was actually being correctly collected.  It isn't mandatory (yet AFAIK) for VAT to be collected on orders below €150 but it can make life easier for retailer and customer.

 

The OP raises part of the problem in that a website has no idea if you are going to go over the limit (above which the retailer shouldn't charge VAT but VAT will still be due on entry to the UK (or EU)) or potentially where you live (particularly if you're not logged in and/or you use some form of private browsing/cookie blocker etc).

 

IIRC once VAT has been added then it must be indicated as such on an invoice (though that may not be generated until payment has been made).

 

Cheers Mike

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Shirley the simple answer would be that the prices are marked with 'ex. Sales Tax'. It would be clearer to the rest of the world - no?

 

Over here its 'hors tax' or 'TTC' (Tout Taxes Comprises - including all taxes).

 

Cheers,

 

Philip

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1 hour ago, Not Jeremy said:

 

 

 

I would be interested in hearing any factual information or informed comment on why the EU have made these changes. 

 

Simon

 

 

 

 

Many (Western) governments have been trying to find ways of collecting the appropriate VAT etc. on imports from other countries, especially those in the Far East and others outside their local tax catchment area, often also those who attempt to circumvent duty and tax collection rules by under-declaring the value of goods shipped or declaring them as "gifts". The UK government changes on 1 January 2021 removed the lower limit for tax/duty on imports including gifts, previously £17, and required foreign shippers to collect UK VAT at source. The EU introduced its matching changes on 1 July 2021. In both cases, UK and EU, the VAT charge is based on the receiving country's VAT rate. It is worth noting that the EU changes would have taken place 12 months earlier had it not been for the Covid19 distraction, and the UK post Brexit changes would have continued the EU rules. 

 

The post 1 January 2021 changes have been explored at length on RMWeb  https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/161021-buying-and-selling-models-tofrom-europe/&tab=comments#comment-4257089

 

For the 1 July 2021 changes, UPS have a simple to understand guide. https://www.ups.com/gb/en/smallbusiness/content/international-shipping/eu-vat-reform.page

 

 

 

 

 

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I seem to recall making a purchase in a shop in 'Torrono' Ontario and the price on the ticket on the goods on the shelf was lower than the price at the till.  The local tax etc was added when I made the payment. Same difference? (Alisdair)

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8 hours ago, ianmianmianm said:

There is a convention since Brexit between the EU and UK where UK VAT on orders up to 135 quid is collected by the retailer at the point of sale, if an item is coming into the UK. This is to de-complicate collection at the point of delivery (i.e. reduce the number of deliveries requiring collection of VAT by the post office or courier by removing smaller value purchases from the grand scheme of things).

 

 

It’s not a “convention” and it’s not between the UK and EU. It’s global. Below £135 the retailer is expected to collected UK VAT on behalf of HMRC, above £135 it’s collected by HMRC upon import. The good thing is that most retailers, particularly outside the EU are not set up for it, so if you keep orders below £135 you can get some good deals!

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On 29/09/2021 at 04:02, ianathompson said:

Each State in the Union has its own laws 

They independently set their sales tax/VAT or whatever which varies from State to State.

As a result it is not possible for a supplier to quote a single price because State A taxes at 10% whereas B taxes at 15%.

It is apparently quite common to advertise an item at the cost price in the knowlege that the purchaser will expect to pay more because of the system.

 

 

You don't pay state sales tax when purchasing items from another state.  If a large firm has a brick and mortar presence in the state you live in, they will collect sales tax for your state, not the state you ordered the items from, even if the warehouse is in another state.  If a company or firm is only in another state, they won't make you pay taxes on orders to the state you live in.  If you live in state A, you are only going to have to pay tax to State A.  I live in Virginia, when I order from a hobby shop in Maryland, it is tax free.

 

If you live in the UK, you shouldn't be charged state sales tax for mail orders from the USA.

 

 

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Was looking at something this morning. A single 4mm coach. From about GBP70 on the listing, it went to GBP104. GBP14 of that was VAT (presumably), then the rest was shipping.

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Shapeways is now simply the province of the rich which is such a shame as it defeats the object. Hopefully someone will pop up in the UK with a better pricing strategy. £66 for a coach body without frames that turns into 80 plus postage is just plain silly.  

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31 minutes ago, Blandford1969 said:

Shapeways is now simply the province of the rich which is such a shame as it defeats the object. Hopefully someone will pop up in the UK with a better pricing strategy. £66 for a coach body without frames that turns into 80 plus postage is just plain silly.  

I can have my files printed for myself in the UK less expensively than via Shapeways or any of the other international printing houses. But if I want to sell to someone in another country or even in the UK, the Shapeways shop takes care of it all. They display the item, handle the ordering process, collect the money, print the item, pack it, send it, and provide after sales service. If I chose to I could also receive a commission on the transaction. I do not expect to see a competitor arising in the UK who will handle the whole process for me, including shipping to destinations across the globe. On the 3D printing section of RMWeb there is a potential competitor being discussed but it will not have the global reach of the big "foreign" providers.  https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/166241-uk-3d-printing-marketplaces/#comments

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On 01/10/2021 at 14:41, Mike Harvey said:

I can have my files printed for myself in the UK less expensively than via Shapeways or any of the other international printing houses. But if I want to sell to someone in another country or even in the UK, the Shapeways shop takes care of it all. They display the item, handle the ordering process, collect the money, print the item, pack it, send it, and provide after sales service. If I chose to I could also receive a commission on the transaction. I do not expect to see a competitor arising in the UK who will handle the whole process for me, including shipping to destinations across the globe. On the 3D printing section of RMWeb there is a potential competitor being discussed but it will not have the global reach of the big "foreign" providers.  https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/166241-uk-3d-printing-marketplaces/#comments

That's as may be but a coach body with nothing else that becomes 80 with the add on's before the postage is just lunacy. 

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On 29/09/2021 at 16:20, Philou said:

Shirley the simple answer would be that the prices are marked with 'ex. Sales Tax'. It would be clearer to the rest of the world - no?

 

Over here its 'hors tax' or 'TTC' (Tout Taxes Comprises - including all taxes).

 

Cheers,

 

Philip

Don't call me Shirley...

 

To make a general comment as opposed to responding to Philou and quoting Airline, it does seem to me that the Shapeways philosophy has been compromised by the economics of the operation, and further by Brexit.  As I understood it, the concept behind producing and marketing 3D printed items is for independent designers to develop the CAD information needed for the printer to produce the item without it being mired in sprues or otherwise unusable, but for 3D producer firms such as Shapeways to arrange for the item to be acutally printed, marketed, and sold, because by and large the independent designers are not skilled in or particularly interested in those processes.  Shapeways describe them as a 'community', which enhances the idea that they have designed items for their own purposes and simply wish to make them available to others who may want them as well as themselves.  There is a sort of altruism at the root of this philiosophy.

 

I'm sure Simon, Rue d"Etropal, will not mind me using him as an example.  He has produce a very useful range of coach and locomotive bodies and some buildings for 3D printing, often prototypes that are niche/left field and unobtainable elsewhere.  The effort he puts in is in CAD design or in producing files or drawings that can be made into CAD files to feed into a printer, which then produces the model.  This is very handy if you want, for instance, an A7 auto trailer; Simon, as Recreation Models, can provide you with the fully detailed bodyshell complete with buffers and roof ventilators, though Shapeways. 

 

When 3D printing first started a decade or so ago, it was promoted on the idea that people with printers could use them to produce anything they wanted for as many people they wanted or just themselves, and that for small repetive items you could just load the printer with the raw material and let it burble away to itself in the corner while you got on with your life.  There is no such thing as a free lunch, and if you wanted to produce for others it is reasonable that you should expect them to pay enough to cover your costs and show appreciation for your effort. 

 

But the cost of producing the item is higher than we all first thought.  Yeah, I'll buy a printer and it'll pay for itself in no time, and I'll have a machine that can make anything I need for my layout that I can't get anywhere else.  Well, not quite; there are running costs to the printer, and the raw plastic or metal is specially formulated and expensive; moreover, much is wasted in printing in the form of sprues, and I'm not sure that these can re-used.  A printer for your own use is a useful tool, though it may not have exactly lived up to what we thought was it's original promise, and when it comes to marketing and distributing to anyone beyond your immediate circle of friends (definition of friend, someone with a van or a printer) rapidly develops into a lot of work which was not necessarily what you signed up for, and the slow rate of production means that nobody is ever going to get rich doing it.

 

Enter the likes of Shapeways, originally well intentioned but a business not a charity, who do not IMHO help themselves with their inpenetrable website or use of the hopleless and expensive UPS to deliver stuff.  They were not a cheap supplier before brexit, and matters are worse now.  They are in what is to some extent a monopoly position; the only alternative in the UK seems to be to design, print, market, and distribute yourself, which is not everyone's bag, man.

 

There are products available from Shapeways that can't be obtained elsewhere, but they are not cheap.  That's how things are now just, as we say in Wales, and there is I believe a business opportunity for somebody to open up a Shapeways type operation in the UK, which would presumably be able to not only undercut SW's prices but increase the payout to the desingers.  But this can't be easy, or cheap, or someone would have already done it!  There are 3D producers such as Modelu who do the whole production/marketing/distribution thing themselves full time in the form of small industies, and the lower prices they provide to their customers show how flawed and cost-ineffective the SW business model has become, but it's the only other game in town.

 

If Simon were to produce a Diagram N or A10 auto trailer body, I'd probably shell out for one.  The cost of the completed coach is going to probably be around £130-£140 allowing the Brexit markup for the Stafford Road bogies, also from Shapeways and the other bits and pieces needed to complete.  The other type of auto trailer on my shopping list, the  A20/1 TVR gangwayed twin set, which I'd love, is going to come in at not much shy of £300, which is a bit too salty for me! 

 

I've taken delivery yesterday of a pair of BIN eBay prints for my station nameboards, for less than a tenner, from someone called asis3D.  Not Pendon quality but ok for the price, so it can be done, but this guy is selling direct.  Good luck to him!

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On 29/09/2021 at 10:02, ianathompson said:

Each State in the Union has its own laws 

They independently set their sales tax/VAT or whatever which varies from State to State.

As a result it is not possible for a supplier to quote a single price because State A taxes at 10% whereas B taxes at 15%.

It is apparently quite common to advertise an item at the cost price in the knowlege that the purchaser will expect to pay more because of the system.

 

Believe it or not the said American posters eulogise about the simplicity of a system whereby what it sales on the price tag is what you pay!

Do they also eulogise about tax being added to airport food at the till? When has anyone heard of a freakin’ airport changing states? I think they just like to p!ss people off TBH. 

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