Monday, 3 November 2008

Ottawa plans to shake up duty-free shops

I must admit I was unaware of the byzantine rules that beset land border duty free shops - which are different from airports apparently.

The article says the idea is to make them "more consumer friendly" but that is not the case. Canada offers very little consumer protection compared to other places, and one of the weakest areas is labelling. For a start "duty free" means nothing of the sort. If the goods sold in these shops really did pay no government levies of any kind than they would be much cheaper. But of course governments have a monopoly in liquor wholesaling. The price for booze in a Canadian "duty free" shop may look a bit cheaper than a Canadian liquor store but that does not mean that government has forgone much revenue.

The proposed inbound duty free at airports is not so innovative either. London's Heathrow has had this for years.

What would be really good is if the stuff we can buy on the way to visit our friends and relatives really was local. All kinds of imported stuff is labelled as though it was of Canadian origin but that is simply not true in many cases. For instance, Chilean wine is bottled here and labelled Canada

For a long time I have wanted to take BC wines to my family in England - but all they had in the YVR store was Ontario wine. I do not know if they have ever responded to all the complaints I made since they never replied to me and I gave up going into the duty free at YVR. The variety of things I can buy outside the airport is much better and the prices not so different.

The best protection consumers have here is being market savvy and shopping around. Do not expect any government in Canada to care about you.


dutyfreeonarrival said...

London Heathrow has not had inbound Duty Free sales for is not permitted in the EU and inbound Duty Free sales from outside The EU are not allowed anywhere within The European Union.

Stephen Rees said...

I am sorry. I should have written "I have bought my duty free inbound at LHR T3 for the last several years" said...

I am afraid not, you think you have! In bound Duty Free sales into any Country in the European Unionis prohibited has been for over 10 years. You have probably bought Liquors which are discounted and in fact are Duty/Tax Paid goods.