Real Reason Airport Stores Ask to See Your Boarding Pass, Cheating Passengers out of Millions

by Adam

“Handing over your boarding pass at airport shops, even if you’re buying nothing more than a newspaper, has become practically second nature – but I bet very few people realized why retailers can be so insistent,” said Nick Trend, Telegraph Travel’s Consumer Editor.”

Yes, according to the Independentmany UK airport stores are scanning those boarding passes to claim millions back in VAT (20% on passengers leaving the EU), but are not passing those savings on to passengers.

According to the article, Boots (owned by Walgreens-Boots Alliance) is one of the worst offenders, charging the exact same prices in the airport as they do at their non-airport locations.  Sunscreen is sold for £8, the chain then claims £1.60 for passengers traveling outside the EU, but those savings are not passed on to consumers. Other retailers in the investigation were found to be doing the same.

Of course, showing multiple prices based on destination would likely be confusing and frustrating for customers and book/newspaper/convenience retailer WHSmith claims that it’s a “practical impossibility”.

Full story here.


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Peyton August 7, 2016 - 11:22 am

Maybe I’m confused. If I only buy a newspaper or a very minimal amount at one of these stores, would I be able to claim the VAT anyways? I agree they are overcharging if they are claiming the discount and that would be deceiving at best, but could I claim a reimbursement of the VAT on a newspaper alone?

Terry Wright August 7, 2016 - 11:52 am

This sickens me.
Why is the UK corporate culture so totally disgusting?
I will avoid W H Smith and Boots as much as I possibly can..forever!

rjb August 7, 2016 - 12:29 pm

If the consumer gets no benefit from showing the Boarding Pass, then perhps the solution is to refuse to show boarding passes unless you get the VAT rebate reflected in the price. No need to facilitate the retailer ripping you off, right?

Hasse August 7, 2016 - 12:40 pm

“Practical impossibility”!! What a load of BS. Solution: show highest standard price including VAT. Scan boarding pass and the register will in a split second calculate the rebate and then add e explanation to the receipt.
Very easy to do.

USBT August 7, 2016 - 3:42 pm

Do keep up! That article is from 7th August 2015. That’s one year old.

The stores at UK airports aren’t now requiring boarding passes (apart from those serving alcohol and tobacco) because of this uproard.

Larry August 8, 2016 - 10:42 am

Interesting, even if info is no longer current. But I arrived at the conclusion on my own years ago when I started travelling. “Duty free” shops all over the world are ridiculous ripoffs and I would never set foot in one let alone buy anything


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