Monday, 1 July 2013

Why doesn't the price at the till match the price on the shelf?

I moved to New Zealand in 2004.  In the spring of 2007, I returned to Canada (via a three-month detour through Rapanui, Chile, Peru and Colombia).  However, I knew I was back in Canada when I purchased a five dollar phone card at Toronto’s Pearson airport, and was charged $5.65 at the till.

Canadians know that we are charged sales taxes, the federal GST for all of us, PST for many, and HST for those that didn’t repeal it.  I’m not necessarily opposed to sales taxes – there are worse ways to be taxed, besides they are well established and I can’t see them being repealed any time soon.  What I object to is that the tax is added at the till.  I can’t just look at the price on the shelf and compare that to the cash in my wallet – I need to add 5%, or 12%, or 13%, or 15.65%, depending on where I live.  As consumers, we have to pay the tax whether it is thrust in our faces or not, and not having it included just makes the math harder.

New Zealand has a GST that is include in the price you see advertised.  In the UK, their outrageous 20% VAT is included in the listed price.  Everyone who lives there knows about the tax and how much that they are charged.  And everyone who has an exemption knows that, too!

If we direct all merchants to include the tax in all advertised prices (including the price on the shelf), we’d save on aggravation and we wouldn’t have the tax shoved in our face every time we make a purchase.  Plus, it would be nicer for visitors!  Tourists would simply see a price, and know what they need to pay.  No need to explain the entire tax system to every new out-of-country visitor.

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