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Posts posted by squirrel42

  1. At least something happens. The price for PM is no longer advertised at 30$ on the get premium page: http://www.geocaching.com/premium/


    On the other hand I heard roumors, that Groundspeak is not registered for VAT with HMRC. The roumor goes, the only European business registration is that of a company called "Biddle Innovations Ltd." and that is for the trade mark "Travelbug". As veryfying this information would cost me about 14€ I cannot for shure say, if that's correct or not.

  2. Are you complaining about not paying the VAT during this period?

    Sort of "yes" as most PMs won't be prepared for letters from the local tax authorities claiming the VAT. And as a customer in the worst case you'll be liable to pay VAT if the company, in our case GS, doesn't forward VAT correctly.


    I don't think the main problem has been with the VOES, but with Groundspeak's ongoing lack of communication. HMRC will not sort out those issues as long as Groundspeak makes accurate reports to them and remits the VAT they collected within the rules for the special scheme. And most users would not complain about the costs as long as they were explained. Groundspeak's problem is outside of the HMRC.
    The communication problem is anyway a biggy for Groundspeak and I doubt they will ever learn that communication is vital if you want to do business.

    On the other hand many PMs trusted in GS's promise, that the PM rate will be frozen as long as you keep on renewning. That promise was broken, so why should I trust GS that they forward VAT correctly now?


    Edit: To make it plain, I am not saying, they are not forwarding VAT. All I can say I don't know if they are forwarding VAT and as information is poor I have some doubts.

  3. I agree that I do not see any evidence of tax fraud - Groundspeak appears to be following the rules pertaining to the special scheme for VAT on electronic services (VOES).

    Well, as VOES is effective since 2003 and not April 2013 at least the question what about the period 2003 till 2013 is still open.

    Besides why they charge 33% extra and not 20-25% and why non Euro countries such as Poland have to pay in Euro now...


    Anyway, I think HMRC can sort this out better than we.

  4. Will you post a copy of your complaint report here?Others may want to copy it and send it again.

    Do you really need a copy?* I just sumed up the facts I know. I stated what Groundspeak is and what service they offer and the meberships they offer (basic=free, premium=paid). I also gave information about the unannounced price hike for EU members and that GS stated, it was because GS had to forward VAT as of April 17th 2013, that they don't want to give information about VAT rate and VAT registration number. I used this form to complain: https://online.hmrc.gov.uk/shortforms/form/CusConf_InformB?dept-name=Customs&sub-dept-name=Hotline&location=48&origin=http://www.hmrc.gov.uk



    (1) Most companies don't have forum discussions of their pricing policies, tax-payment practices, etc. GS has above-average transparency on that issue.

    Most companies don't need a discussion about this, as any other company I deal with has so far informed me in advance when prices change. They also offer information about VAT rates charged and/or VAT registration number. If you call GS's policy "transparent" then you might think the chinese wall is transparent as well.


    (2) Most companies do charge different fees for the same services in different places.
    No other company I ever dealt with changed the prices for a certain region without notice from one day to the other.


    (3) There's no "fraud" here. The services provided by this company are fairly unique and don't fit into a "plain vanilla" box. A German member, for example, can use his or her membership worldwide, so the "consumption" or use doesn't necessarily take place in Germany. It's a "gray area," hence the need to consult the experts.
    There is a clear regulation within the EU which is known as "VOES". Under this scheme it is not important, where you actually consume (in our case: where you read a cache listing or download a pq) but where you live. This is a special scheme for digital/electronic services and subscriptions. There is no gray area. Either you are a EU resident or you are not.

    But nevertheless, GS already stated they are registered with UK tax authorities and claim to be forwarding EU VAT. So why do they make such a big secret out of the VAT rate and/or the VAT registration number? There is no need for this as neither the one nor the other is on the "top secret" list. Any other company gave me that information, at least on request but most did so even if I didn't ask for it.


    Edit says: *anyone interested in my writing please drop me a note via my GS acount. Please note that I won't go into private discussion via e-mail!

  5. A year from now no one will be talking about this and EU geocachers will still be buying PMs.

    And I'm quite positiv that Groundspeaks "learning curve" will by then lead them to some way of secretely increasing the price for recurring PMs as well. Also I'm quite shure that better communincation, though it's been promised, is not on the agenda for that "learning curve"

  6. Groundspeak has consulted VAT experts, and has taken their advice.

    Have they really talked to VAT experts? GS just spoke of "experts" and that means nothing. If they spoke to "VAT experts", why should they have recomended not to give vital imformation? Bryan said 4 weeks ago that GS would give the VAT number in the case GS found out they are allowed to publish this number. And yes, it is allowed to publish this number. Again another broken promise by Groundspeak. And there is no reason to hide the VAT number or not tell us what VAT rate they are taking.


    As I said earlier, as recurring PM I'm at the moment not affected by the price hike but nevertheless I will cancel my PM. I don't want to do business with a company which treats its customers like this.

    Furthermore I'll report GS to HMRC and German tax authorities as I suspect them of tax fraud.

  7. Ask them on Facebook (not message, but as post visible for all). Make this discussion public!

    What about a footer in each log we write?

    This is really public!


    That´s a really great idea! I will go for that :)

    Yes. And talk to your fellow cachers when you meet them in the woods or at events.

  8. I doubt anything will change though.

    You might be right. That's why this story about "learning curves" is so funny to me. It's not the first time that a lack of communication has been critizised. Shouldn't a propper learnig curve lead to more communication and make Groundspeak to provide necessary information?

  9. Could it be possible that recurring membership is no longer available? I can see only the options "1 year" and "3 months".

    Klick on "1 year". It seems, that the non-recurring is no longer available.


    But still they advertise the price at 30$ with no clue the price might vary for some countries...


    The only answer to all question was:


    Thank you for your questions. We have talked to multiple experts who recommended that we do not display our VAT ID on our home page. VAT laws differ from country to country, and in our specific case, we are only required to state VAT included, which we are complying to.


    If you still have doubts about the legitimacy of our business, feel free to do your research.


    Best regards



    I wonder what kind of "experts" they talked to (if any) and why they recommended not to give vital information. HMRC warns, that if a company doesn't give its VAT number customers should be careful...


    To me it seems now even more likely that G$ does not pay VAT and is not registered with any European tax authority.

  11. E.g. I could not find an address or an e-mail for Germany where I could complain about irregular VAT business.

    Try your local Finanzamt or the nearest Hauptzollamt. But as G$ claims to be registered in the UK a complaint to HMRC will do the trick anyway.
  12. Thanks. I guess I saw the 2005 version of that page and I don't recall anything about a locked in rate. That doesn't mean that it was there, but I'm wondering if it was added later. I've never had a reason to look at the page since as I have always simply responded to the link in the reminder email, which brought me straight to the payment system.


    The 2005 version ( http://www.geocaching.com/subscribe/ ) contained the text:


    In appreciation for supporting the web site, you will be locked in at the current rate as long as you continue to renew.

    It can be found at the "Way-back-machine" at archive.org: http://web.archive.org/web/20050829125729/http://www.geocaching.com/subscribe/

  13. Does anybody know a responsible EU/German/British etc. authority (with e-mail or address) where we can report the behaviour from Groundspeak:

    Net price is not stated, VAT percentage is not stated, VAT ID is not published at their web site, no invoice and so on.

    I checked other companies like Amazon and ebay. All of them have done this, sure, because it is legally required.

    As Groundspeak says, they are registered with the British HMRC this would be the relevant page you are looking for: Customs, Excise and VAT fraud reporting


    Exactly how would someone go about 'verifying' the claim that there are less than twenty 'deleted' posts? :unsure:


    I counted 19, and I can tell you that the vast majority were for links to competing sites and inappropriate language. None of these have ever been tolerated in the forums. Some of those I counted were reposts, as the poster tried to post their note multiple times. Those identical posts was removed again and again.

    Not to forget the at least 3 or 4 Post referring to a certain Canadian geocaching supplier which can be mentioned in the coins section but not in this thread!


    Now Groundspeak: I am tired of waiting. An explanation and an excuse, please! And both plausible and no fishy talk again. You had a fourtnight to think "long and hard" about a 10 year old law.

  15. Good point! Dear Geocaching.com. Please stop issuing premium memberships to people who live in the EU. Do like a lot of American companies and force Europeans to register with an address within the United States. It must be horrible to live in a place where you have to spend pennies more per day than the rest of the world!

    Haven't you read the last 9 pages of this discussion? It's not about the price, it's about how Groundspeak communicates the price change - or better, how GS not communicates it.

    And it's also about the somewhat fishy reasons they give.


    I don't know how you get to work, but maybe you go by car. And then you go down the highway and for one or the other reason, the speed limit changes in 2003 from 75 mph to 55 mph. But you keep on traveling at 75, and you are lucky. And then, in 2013, you are caught by the highway patrol and you say: "Well, officer, I thought long and hard, but from now on I'll obey the speed limit." and "No, I won't show you my driving license".

  16. Here's a little experiment. Go into C&A, or H&M, or another Europe-wide clothes store. Look at the price label in any item. You'll probably find it has different prices for 6 or 7 different countries, including many in the Euro zone. Do you walk out of the store when you see that, because someone in France might be able to buy the same T-shirt for 2 Euros less? Or do you walk round naked in protest at how these evil companies are discriminating against you?

    Again, if somebody here in Dortmund, Germany walks into the local C&A or H&M branch, anybody will pay the same price for a specific product, regardless if he's from Germany, France, the US or from Mars. (More, non EU consumers will even pay less, as they are refunded the VAT if they reclaim it.) And I'll get a proper receipt as well, showing all the information we are still missing from Groundspeak. They just claim to be paying VAT now, but they should have the last 10 years. What about that? Will I get a bill from the local tax authorities? Will they really pay VAT from now on? I cannot say, as I haven't seen their VAT number and so I haven't the slightest clue. If you don't care, well, that's up to you.
  17. You will pay US$ 30 + tax and it will not be rounded up, you will be billed the correct amount and not something that "includes all taxes" but is more than a US customer.

    That's what I thought. On the other hand it's hard to compare prices of physical products in different markets. But that's another story.


    To come back billing, VAT-registration numbers and the lot. I found two ordinary receipts in my pokets. One from a sports and outdoor store, one from a local supermarket. Neither I do run a sports business nor a grocery shop. But all the important information are given here even on plain receipts at the check out in those shops.


    Both of these examples are for physical goods sold within the EU. But as noted above, a non-EU company billing for e-services under VOES is different.


    Presumably Groundspeak provides a VAT invoice if they sell a cache container to a residential customer in the UK.

    1.) My aim was to make plain that it is no big deal to provide the VAT registration number

    2.) I doubt that any non-EU company providing digital content and collects EU VAT for that product (in case of EU customers, of course) may refuse to give the information of VAT rate and registration number.

  18. You will pay US$ 30 + tax and it will not be rounded up, you will be billed the correct amount and not something that "includes all taxes" but is more than a US customer.

    That's what I thought. On the other hand it's hard to compare prices of physical products in different markets. But that's another story.


    To come back billing, VAT-registration numbers and the lot. I found two ordinary receipts in my pokets. One from a sports and outdoor store, one from a local supermarket. Neither I do run a sports business nor a grocery shop. But all the important information are given here even on plain receipts at the check out in those shops.

  19. This is no different than any other company. For example cost of a H&M sweater in Paris: 30 euro, in NYC: 30 dollars, in Tokyo: 3,000 yen, in Seoul 30,000 Won

    The Korean won is worth less than the euro, dollars or yen so you can save a bunch of money if you shop in Meyongdong over champ de elysees, 5th ave or Shinjuku. It's not discrimination. Or maybe it is but all company's do it so you can't single out GS for this.

    So if I am by chance in New York, do I pay 30$ or 30€ for the sweat shirt? Will they ask me at the check out, where I'm from to find a price? See the difference?

  20. I can only speak for Germany, but I think, the procedure is somewhat likewise in other EU countries.

    To summarize:


    - It is illegal to charge VAT in the EU without showing the net price and VAT (exact amount and percentage)

    The price advertised must include VAT and all other taxes where appropiate. I.e.: The price advertise is the price you pay.


    - It is illegal to charge VAT without an invoice where VAT is shown.
    That's true.

    - It is illegal to charge VAT without having a public VAT ID from an EU country.

    Also true. German based companies must also show the number in the imprint of their web sites.


    - It might be illegal, but at least it is not honest to show the price in dollar and to charge it in Euro.
    If Groundspeak was a German based company it would defenitely be illegal. But as they are not I cannot tell. About being dishonest: It's highly irritating to me, that the price on the "get premium" page is advertised as 30$ and not the slightest clou is given that the price might vary for some countries.

    Am I also to conclude that everyone complaining here is running a geocaching based business and needs a premium membership to perform it, thus actually has a right to Groundspeak's VAT # so they can reclaim the VAT amount?

    For B2B they must provide VAT number, for private business they can. But if the (private) customer ask for a propper invoice, again they must provide the nessecary information. As I stated earlier, even at the local supermarket when I buy a box of milk for 60 cents I'll get a receipt showing all the information about tax rate and tax amount. And I wont have any trouble finding out it's VAT number.


    I actually stumbled upon this site the other night when I was trying to get information on this controversy. It seems to me that it is intentionally hard to look a company's #. I can't seem to find a site where you type in a company's name and come up with a #, which leads me to believe that they are somewhat protected.
    Take any German based company (either nativ or a subsidary), they'll show the tax information in the imprint. One random example: a German sports magazine-. You'll find business registration number and VAT registration number right under the name of the company.

    There is simply no need to protect the VAT number. How would you missuse this? Pay the VAT for the company?


    So I still belive: The only reason I can think of for not providing a VAT number is not havin a VAT number. Groundspeak, please proofe me wrong.


    From the mentioned webpage:


    Tips and warnings


    If the business won't give you an invoice, you should decline the purchase and report the business to HMRC. A business who refuses to give you a VAT number may be subject to a fine.

  22. Vote with your credit card.


    Sadly it seems indeed like that's the only language Groundspeak understands. <_<

    I renewed my premium membership the end of February. If I were up to renew now I certainly would think twice!

    Like almost everybody here it's not about the money for me, but about the way Groundspeak treats us.

    It's time they start realising that whitout us there would be no 2 million caches to show off with!

    My premium mebership was renewed a few weeks ago.


    - I am on auto-renewal (so I'd still pay $30, I guess)

    - I don't pay by myself, as I always get the PM as a birthday present


    Never the less, this will be my last year of PM if G$ doesn't change it's policy how to treat paying customers!


    I also told some fellow geocachers about what is going on, most of them won't renew as well (one or two will try "the Canadian way"). And I keep noticing, that a certain alternative geocaching platform has quite a lot of new published caches at the moment...

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