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Different prices of Premium Membership


Tschakko
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Hi,

 

Why do people in Europe pay more expensive the premium subscription?

If you live in Europe you pay 30 euros (€), but if you live in the USA you pay $ 30. And 30 € = 39.04 $ (currently)

 

What is the reason?

 

Greetings.

omortsoN

Edited by omortsoN
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Hi,

 

Why do people in Europe pay more expensive the premium subscription?

If you live in Europe you pay 30 euros (€), but if you live in the USA you pay $ 30. And 30 € = 39.04 $ (currently)

 

What is the reason?

 

Greetings.

omortsoN

 

For those just joining the discussion, the most complete response from Groundspeak has been Bryan's explanation that was offered at post No. 130.

 

Or to try to summarize:

 

1. Groundspeak has started to collect the VAT that is placed on consumers for electronic services provided in the EU. Under the EU scheme, the VAT should be collected by Non-EU suppliers based on the country where the customer lives.

 

2. Groundspeak has increased the costs for its services to cover added expenses and hedge against future conversion fees and exchange rates involved in this process.

 

3. To "simplify" matters, Groundspeak set a single inclusive price for the EU (regardless of the country where the consumer lives) and a separate price for the UK.

 

4. Groundspeak has again pledged not to raise rates for recurring customers "going forward."

 

5. Groundspeak acknowledged problems in communication and hopes to do better in the future.

 

The remaining discussion on this thread concerns various questions, comments, and problems pertaining to this change.

Edited by geodarts
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It's probably academic though, I suspect every geocacher in Europe will be living in Delaware before long B)

 

Well, I'm not a keen worshipper of USA, but is Delaware a nice place to 'live' in?

 

If you like a zero sales tax it's great. And since the product is virtual it's easy to see how people might effect a virtual (and temporary) move to Delaware.

 

It is the "garden state" but I used to think that only Joe Biden and corporations lived there.

 

In any event, that would be simpler than the present system. Unless I have misunderstood Bryan's post, by charging one inclusive rate that applies across the EU or the UK, those who live in Luxembourg (with a lower VAT rate) would be paying more for Groundspeak's services than those in Belgium (a higher VAT rate). On top of that, are Groundspeak's "hedges" to cover currency conversion (perhaps both at the point of sale and in paying the money collected for VAT in British pounds) itself subject to VAT since they become part of the cost of the underlying service? I would not want to try to figure out what is actually being charged in each country. And it seems to bear no relationship to the contractual obligation that Groundspeak undertook for many of us when it committed itself not to raise the basic price of membership as long as it was renewed.

 

Don't know a whole lot about Delaware, I've driven through it but that's about it. From what I saw it looks inoffensive, much like anywhere else when seen from the interstate I guess. Maybe not as pretty as West Virginia but if I wanted to move somewhere on a virtual basis for a day or two it would work as well as anywhere.

 

I've never been to Oregon but suspect it's prettier than Delaware.

 

Groundspeak's commitment to never raise the price was naive at best. Anyone with half a brain knows that freezing a price forever will, sooner or later, end up with customers who cost more than they generate. It's also naive in the extreme to promise to retain a frozen final price regardless of what taxes do.

 

I agree entirely that adding a buffer for themselves in case of currency fluctuation while pretending it's all for our benefit is being less than entirely honest. It seems to me that if they have to pay VAT in pounds they want to receive money in pounds and don't want to take on the currency risk themselves. Which as a business decision is one thing but it's hard to see how suggesting it's for our benefit is anything less than dishonest.

 

But then I suspect this post is just another one that floats into the ether to be ignored by those who make fine-sounding promises to communicate better but still seem to have very little idea how to deal with concepts like "customer loyalty" and "customer satisfaction".

 

If you want to virtually move to someplace for the day, why not Nevada? Same tax rate and you could also virtually find the 2000 ET Hwy caches.

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Or....maybe that was the plan all along...keep uping the price on the foreigners so the price can remain the same for the Americans.

 

This is what I think it is. That is why the subhead of this topic is "Discrimination of Europeans?".

 

I suppose most Americans won´t jump in on this as it might happen they would have to pay 2$ more on their PM too.

 

If I had to pay $2 more and it went to Groundspeak, I wouldn't have an issue. Heck, in the time I have been premium member, my monthly cable/Internet bill has gone up 45%. $2 on $30 is nothing. However, if the $2, (it would be $3), were to go to the State of California as a sales tax, where it would be mismanaged like the rest of my tax money, I'd be upset.

 

I've been trying to keep up on this, but what I'm getting is that the EU has some convoluted tax scheme that taxes you guys on everything but the air you breath, the US government is suggesting that US businesses that sell services to you are to participate in it, and Groundspeak totally fumbled the football in their attempt to do so.

 

Of course, the lack of communication from Groundspeak whenever an issue arises is never helpful. The bottom line, I do not think that Groundspeak intentionally intended to deceive or defraud anyone, and the lack of simple patience by some of the people participating in this tread reminds me of a three year old that threatens to hold their breath until they get what they want.

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If I had to pay $2 more and it went to Groundspeak, I wouldn't have an issue. Heck, in the time I have been premium member, my monthly cable/Internet bill has gone up 45%. $2 on $30 is nothing. However, if the $2, (it would be $3), were to go to the State of California as a sales tax, where it would be mismanaged like the rest of my tax money, I'd be upset.

 

I've been trying to keep up on this, but what I'm getting is that the EU has some convoluted tax scheme that taxes you guys on everything but the air you breath, the US government is suggesting that US businesses that sell services to you are to participate in it, and Groundspeak totally fumbled the football in their attempt to do so.

 

Of course, the lack of communication from Groundspeak whenever an issue arises is never helpful. The bottom line, I do not think that Groundspeak intentionally intended to deceive or defraud anyone, and the lack of simple patience by some of the people participating in this tread reminds me of a three year old that threatens to hold their breath until they get what they want.

 

As it´s been said before it´s not about the tax itself. If it really is the way G$ says, that´s fine with everybody. Tax applys when it does and it is not just wasted over here but it does go into good projects as well.

 

But so far G$ failed to proof they really do forward this to the EU.

 

Furthermore they have had a week to proof it, which is very simple.

 

Additionally they fail to charge the proper tax rates.

 

In conclusion all this looks like a big lie to me. G$ just wants to get more money and doesn´t have the guts to say so. Therfore they chose to discriminate on europeans using some excuse and the play the three apes. At this point of the topic they have lost all my respect and certainly their credibility.

 

I am sorry to say this, but they have had their chance to get everything straightened out. But as they choose to just do nothing I have to believe they do all this intentionally and that they are totally aware of what they are doing!

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I've been trying to keep up on this, but what I'm getting is that the EU has some convoluted tax scheme that taxes you guys on everything but the air you breath,

 

In Poland in some popular holiday resorts we have a 'climate tax' - visitors pay for each day they spend in resort, this tax is collected via hotels and transferred to municipality. :lol:

 

We should fear that GS would introduce something similar - like charging 0.01$ per each cache found, for 'infrastructure maintenance'.

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If I had to pay $2 more and it went to Groundspeak, I wouldn't have an issue. Heck, in the time I have been premium member, my monthly cable/Internet bill has gone up 45%. $2 on $30 is nothing. However, if the $2, (it would be $3), were to go to the State of California as a sales tax, where it would be mismanaged like the rest of my tax money, I'd be upset.

 

I would not have any problems with a tax other than the problems I have with taxes in general. That day may well be coming.

 

I would have more problems with if Groundspeak announced a price change without clear communication; imposed additional charges that went beyond any tax; and did not address the contract they made with me at the time I joined not to raise rates. (A tax itself does not raise rates, and I can understand if the agreement we made has to be modified, but I would expect full communication and some sort offer in return.)

 

The analogy does not quite work given the differences between US tax law and the VAT, but it is as if Groundspeak imposed a single US flat rate to make sales taxes (and undetermined fees) inclusive. It would mean that a person in a state where there is little or no sales tax would be effectively paying more for Groundspeak's services than a person in a state with high sales tax. So if I lived in Luxembourg I would be complaining about discrimination by paying more to Groundspeak than my friends in Belgium -- it is not that the underlying VAT appears to be problematic, but the way in which Groundspeak went about it.

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I've been trying to keep up on this, but what I'm getting is that the EU has some convoluted tax scheme that taxes you guys on everything but the air you breath,

 

In Poland in some popular holiday resorts we have a 'climate tax' - visitors pay for each day they spend in resort, this tax is collected via hotels and transferred to municipality. :lol:

 

We should fear that GS would introduce something similar - like charging 0.01$ per each cache found, for 'infrastructure maintenance'.

Had to look that one up.

The EU says it'll reduce emissions from airlines, but doesn't say at what cost to tourism.

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Thanks to everyone for their feedback on this topic.

 

First, I'd like to apologize for the lack of clear and proactive communication. You deserve better and we'll do our best to provide clear information more proactively in the future.

 

As of April 17th, Groundspeak is collecting and remitting VAT on sales of Premium Memberships within the EU. Where applicable, receipts for PM payments will include the statement "VAT Inclusive" going forward. We believe this is the legal requirement we are required to meet. We are registered for VAT via the U.K. under the special scheme for non-EU Businesses and we have an EU Vat Registration Number. We are currently researching whether is it OK for us to provide this number publicly. We do not want to publish the registration number if it is not permitted or if it would cause other issues. For those who question whether we are in fact registered, the best I can do now is to give you my word that it is true. If we can provide more, we will.

 

Because of the wide range of VAT rates throughout Europe and the United Kingdom, and also for ease of explanation on the site, we settled on one price for all EU and UK customers: 29,99 euros and 24,99 pounds, respectively.

 

With a static $ PM charge, European customers have historically held the risk of currency fluctuations. Each year of Premium Membership (for non-recurring payments) would be charged at a rate that depends on currency fluctuations. Going forward, by presenting the fees in foreign currencies, Groundspeak will bear the risk of currency fluctuation and customers will pay the same price year after year, should they choose to remain Premium Members. We recognize that this is currently more than $30 after VAT and does include additional revenue to cover associated costs (such as currency conversion fees) and to hedge against future currency fluctuations.

 

We have always believed that the value of a Premium Membership is fair and, ultimately, the customers will decide if this is correct. Although we have never adjusted our prices in the past, with the new required change to include the corresponding VAT charge that we will be remitting to the EU, we continue to believe that the price is reasonable for the service provided. Some of you will agree and some of you will disagree. Regardless, we are making our very best efforts to deliver value for the cost and, as you know, your support is what keeps the website, mobile applications and company going forward.

 

Hi Bryan,

Do you have an update please?

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As an American cacher, I'm appalled...but what can I do? :unsure:

 

My take on the whole scenario so far:

 

Groundspeak became informed recently that they had not been in compliance with European tax laws, despite the fact that the laws had been in place for 'a few' years.

 

Groundspeak thinks 'long and hard' about what to do, and decides to proceed with the scheme now in place.

The issues of whether the correct VAT are being charged, or the proper currency exchange rate is applied is all secondary.

 

OZ (Signal) HAS SPOKEN!

 

We can all keep typing here until we wear the engraving off our keyboards, but nothing (N O T H I N G) will change unless Groundspeak notices a significant reduction in PM renewals.

 

We won't know what the change might be until the significant reduction is noted.

 

Vote with your credit card.

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Maybe our EU & GB members should be happy that there isn't a move to retroactively tax your memberships. :ninja:

 

Perhaps that explains the percentage increase discrepancy.

 

As an American, this isn't my fight yet. Our turn will probably come. Groundspeak has a monopoly on PQ's. Early on my PM payment was only to support the site. I didn't even bother with PQ's. Times change. Now its difficult for me to even imagine going forward as a Geocacher without them. I think Groundspeak realizes that. They think you are bluffing about dropping your PM's. Their silence speaks volumes. It doesn't take this long to find an actual VAT expert to advise them. How many of you really are prepared to do without PQ's?

 

To PM, or not to PM: that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them?

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If I had to pay $2 more and it went to Groundspeak, I wouldn't have an issue. Heck, in the time I have been premium member, my monthly cable/Internet bill has gone up 45%. $2 on $30 is nothing. However, if the $2, (it would be $3), were to go to the State of California as a sales tax, where it would be mismanaged like the rest of my tax money, I'd be upset.

 

I would not have any problems with a tax other than the problems I have with taxes in general. That day may well be coming.

 

I would have more problems with if Groundspeak announced a price change without clear communication; imposed additional charges that went beyond any tax; and did not address the contract they made with me at the time I joined not to raise rates. (A tax itself does not raise rates, and I can understand if the agreement we made has to be modified, but I would expect full communication and some sort offer in return.)

 

The analogy does not quite work given the differences between US tax law and the VAT, but it is as if Groundspeak imposed a single US flat rate to make sales taxes (and undetermined fees) inclusive. It would mean that a person in a state where there is little or no sales tax would be effectively paying more for Groundspeak's services than a person in a state with high sales tax. So if I lived in Luxembourg I would be complaining about discrimination by paying more to Groundspeak than my friends in Belgium -- it is not that the underlying VAT appears to be problematic, but the way in which Groundspeak went about it.

 

Yes, that does not sound fair. Thank you for explaining it in clear language. I note that the current Internet tax bill in congress, if passed, would put the burden on the state and local municipalities to create a system for companies to calculate the tax. I would guess that there are more unique sales tax rates just in Southern California than the entire EU.

 

At any rate, since this VAT has been around for a decade, it's hard to believe that there isn't billing software available that has this all figured out.

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Early on my PM payment was only to support the site. I didn't even bother with PQ's. Times change. Now its difficult for me to even imagine going forward as a Geocacher without them.

 

I see at the moment at least two totally legal ways to achieve same (or better) effect as PQ without being PM (and know about other ways that GS may think illegal)

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I simply wonder why Groundspeak implements new payment terms and starts thinking about the legal tax issues afterwards. Normal way would be:

  • Investigate
  • Identify requirements
  • Define implementation
  • Get reviews by local tax experts, make adaptions
  • Implement
  • Get approvals by local tax experts
  • Communicate to customers
  • Go live

 

As many others said: The issue is not (only) the money, it is the way of communication and missing good arguments.

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I simply wonder why Groundspeak implements new payment terms and starts thinking about the legal tax issues afterwards. Normal way would be:

  • Investigate
  • Identify requirements
  • Define implementation
  • Get reviews by local tax experts, make adaptions
  • Implement
  • Get approvals by local tax experts
  • Communicate to customers
  • Go live

 

As many others said: The issue is not (only) the money, it is the way of communication and missing good arguments.

 

This whole farce seems rather like an old poster I had in the office years ago that just read "Ready.... Fire.... AIM!"

 

But hey, why worry about getting it right when you can just give a virtual shrug, describe a cockup as a learning curve, and carry on with the important business of ignoring your customers?

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Isn't the whole thing simple really? If we have to pay it, then we have to pay it. What is WRONG is that Groundspeak didn't have the foresight to inform us about it in their weekly newsletter which we all get. They are quick enough to tell us that we can't break ground, place in church grounds, near schools, train stations airports etc, yet they can't inform us of a price hike. Maybe they were afraid of a backlash, well they appear to have one anyway.

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Isn't the whole thing simple really? If we have to pay it, then we have to pay it. What is WRONG is that Groundspeak didn't have the foresight to inform us about it in their weekly newsletter which we all get. They are quick enough to tell us that we can't break ground, place in church grounds, near schools, train stations airports etc, yet they can't inform us of a price hike. Maybe they were afraid of a backlash, well they appear to have one anyway.

 

Well put. If tax has to be paid it has to be paid, although if Groundspeak truly did write to the user who posted a copy of the mail further up to say they "thought long and hard" before charging VAT it does rather suggest it's not mandatory. As I mentioned further up I don't think long and hard before charging VAT, HMRC determines whether a supply is subject to VAT and so my decision to charge it is very straightforward.

 

It is a pretty poor showing when Groundspeak can tell us all sorts of things in the weekly email but can't tell us that prices are going up due to taxes outside their control.

 

Had they gone about things differently it could have resulted in a cashflow surge for them, if people rushed to renew before the price went up. Instead it's turned into a scenario where at least some people are talking about letting their membership lapse because they don't like being treated like fools.

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As things now stand it seems in the US state tax will be charged to all US customers no matter if the webshop has an address in their states or not.

 

To make things easy GS will probably first think long and hard and then implement a system that charges US$40 for every US cacher so they don't have to worry about a thing. This price will be "tax included". Recurring members will still only be charged US$30 unless, while renewing, you will not be able to complete the membership and be asked to remove the "recurring" and simply renew. At that time price will be US$40 of course.

You see, it's a lot better and simpler for the user :rolleyes:

 

Of course there will be no announcement in advance and postings on the forum will be ignored or answered with "don't know, above my pay grade".

 

The above is pure fiction and should be seen as sarcasm. :ph34r:

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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!

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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...

Edited by squirrel42
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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!

 

Sadly, for some of us, the idea of not renewing would be like telling my Internet provider to stuff it, I'll use my 56K dial up modem instead.

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Well, it looks like in the near future the price might have to go up for the Amis (German term for Americans) also. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/senate-advances-internet-sales-tax-bill-but-final-vote-delayed-until-after-weeklong-vacation/2013/04/26/4e4c8e24-ae48-11e2-b240-9ef3a72c67cc_story.html

 

I wonder if this will require a learning curve also?

 

From the article:

 

Under the bill, states that want to collect online sales taxes must provide free computer software to help retailers calculate the taxes, based on where shoppers live. States must also establish a single entity to receive Internet sales tax revenue, so retailers don’t have to send them to individual counties or cities.

 

If your VAT was set up as such, I doubt that there would be any controversy here.

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Under the bill, states that want to collect online sales taxes must provide free computer software to help retailers calculate the taxes, based on where shoppers live. States must also establish a single entity to receive Internet sales tax revenue, so retailers don’t have to send them to individual counties or cities.

 

If your VAT was set up as such, I doubt that there would be any controversy here.

 

It IS set up very simple. They can pay the VAT completely to the UK authorities, no matter in which EU country the customer resides. And it is very simple to implement different VAT quotes in the buying process. Every IT employee can do so within a couple hours.

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I never cease to be amazed by the degree to which people on here are prepared to spend hours of their valuable leisure time arguing about utterly trivial matters.

 

I see people who probably hand over thousands of dollars or Euros or pounds a year in tax, over which they have essentially no control, moaning and whinging about a $3 difference between people in two countries as some form of discrimination, as if Groundspeak has just publicly announced their support for Apartheid or something.

 

Even if this difference were not perfectly explicable by the fact that Groundspeak is assuming the entire exchange rate risk, all this means is that some people in one country are paying a couple of dollars more for their premium membership than those in another. Even supposing that Groundspeak were doing this following long and extensive market research, with Jeremy and Bryan cackling away like C. Montgomery Burns about their findings that European customers are so stupid and gullible that they can't spot that $1 + VAT is a little bit less than one Euro - even if that were the case (which I don't believe it is, for a moment), what's actually wrong with that?

 

Have you looked at Apple's pricing for smartphones, or Samsung's? Do they take the totally arbitrary, ends-in-99.99 dollar retail price from the US market and convert it to Euros and every other country in the world to 5 decimal places, every day? Of course not. Do any of you ever go to a supermarket? Have you not noticed that the price of everything is changed almost every day, because barcode technology means they only have to change one label on the shelf and one label in the computer? Or, have you put anything into your Amazon wishlist and watched the price go up and down on a weekly basis? Compared to almost everything else you buy, anywhere, Groundspeak's pricing is a model of transparency. Oh, and they didn't put up the price anywhere for 10 or more years. And the VAT they should have been charging you for the past 10 years? Looks like they took the hit on that, too.

 

Seriously, I don't know what it must be like having to live with a lot of the people here in a customer support role, but I'm really glad that I don't have to take your complaints when you find that a Big Mac costs 10c more in your country than the one next door.

 

It seems to me that whenever Groundspeak changes anything, there are two possible explanations:

1. OH MY GOD Groundspeak ARE EVIL AND STUPID !!11!!!!, YES BOTH AT THE SAME TIME !!11!eleventy!!, REALLY REALLY EVIL AND MONEY-GRABBING AND THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMERS AND THEY ARE EVEN MORE STUPID BECAUSE THEY'RE AMERICAN SO THEY'RE PROBABLY ALSO REALLY BIG AND FAT AND THINK THAT THE WHOLE WORLD SPEAKS ENGLISH AND USES DOLLARS !!111!1!! AND THEY WANT TO CLOSE DOWN GEOCACHING AND THEY'RE SO STUPID AND ANYONE CAN SEE THAT AND I KNOW ALL OF THE LAWS BECAUSE I JUST LOOKED ON WIKIPEDIA AND THEY ARE IN VIOLATION OF THE FIRST AMENDMENT AND THEY ARE STUPID AND EVIL AND VERY CLEVER AND CUNNING BUT ALSO STUPID !!11! WAKE UP SHEEPLE I'M CANCELLING MY PM AND GOING TO ANOTHER SITE JUST LIKE I SAID I WOULD DO IN 2008 AND 2009 AND 2010 AND 2011 AND 2012 BUT I REALLY REALLY MEAN IT THIS TIME THEY'LL BE SORRY WHEN I MOVE ALL 15 OF MY CACHES WAAAAAAH WAAAAAAH

or

2. There may be some things that we haven't been told, due to a combination of reasonable business-related caution and the fact that Groundspeak does not, in fact, employ Niccolò Machiavelli in their communication department.

Edited by sTeamTraen
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I never cease to be amazed by the degree to which people on here are prepared to spend hours of their valuable leisure time arguing about utterly trivial matters.

 

<SNIP>

 

Actually, the major issue here is not the money at all (according to most of the distraught Europeans), it's the the back-door way it was implemented, and the fishy-smelling excuses explainations that have been put forward.

 

I suppose 'thought long and hard' means realizing that customers would be lost no matter how the scheme was presented, so why make a big announcement?

Just try to slide it under the door and hope fewer people will notice that way.

 

Most people prefer to deal with companies that are open and above-board.

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Most people prefer to deal with companies that are open and above-board.

 

True, but GS is the only guy on the block right now and they know it. But it does not make it right. Sooner or later another company will come along.

 

Don't like how your being treated at the local Chrysler dealer, go across the street to the Ford dealer. Can't really do this with Geocaching. Sure you could go over to on of the open versions but they, in my opinion, are lacking in many areas. And the one by the GPS company.....give me a break...they are a joke.

Edited by Geo Jedimeister
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I never cease to be amazed by the degree to which people on here are prepared to spend hours of their valuable leisure time arguing about utterly trivial matters.

Must have taken a while to type all that - oh the irony :P

 

Compared to almost everything else you buy, anywhere, Groundspeak's pricing is a model of transparency.

 

You call

 

  • Increasing the charge with no notice anywhere.
  • Still advertising the price at $30 everywhere, but then surreptitiously whacking it up by some fudged amount at the checkout.
  • Refusing to itemise the VAT charge, and refusing to issue their VAT number.
  • Responding on here by effectively saying "we don't really understand VAT, it's really complicated and we're still learning", then just disappearing from the discussion.

 

being transparent?

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I never cease to be amazed by the degree to which people on here are prepared to spend hours of their valuable leisure time arguing about utterly trivial matters.

Must have taken a while to type all that - oh the irony :P

Yes, I was aware of that. But compared to the time it took to read the thread, it was peanuts. :P

 

You call

  • Increasing the charge with no notice anywhere.
  • Still advertising the price at $30 everywhere, but then surreptitiously whacking it up by some fudged amount at the checkout.
  • Refusing to itemise the VAT charge, and refusing to issue their VAT number.
  • Responding on here by effectively saying "we don't really understand VAT, it's really complicated and we're still learning", then just disappearing from the discussion.

being transparent?

I would call the first three points "typical Groundspeak"; they've been every bit "as good" (cough) at communicating this as they are with every other major change they make, as Bryan acknowledged. I think your last point is a little unfair because I don't see what they could have to add, and the purpose of the forums isn't for Groundspeak to discuss all their internal details anyway. As the "experts" who flung mud for the first 3 or 4 pages of this forum have been finding out, understanding how VAT works in cases like this isn't just a case of reading and quoting a couple of paragraphs from Wikipedia.

 

Personally I would like to believe that this move heralds an actual Groundspeak marketing presence on the ground in Europe, hopefully with some input to Seattle to say "Guys, we don't do it like this over here". Groundspeak really still is basically a Mom-and-Pop place, with some very good professional help in many places but with a lot still to learn. "Proper" start-ups with $20 million of vulture capital funding buy themselves worldwide marketing experience early on (and usually end up firing the founders shortly after the IPO); this is a completely different business model.

Edited by sTeamTraen
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As the "experts" who flung mud for the first 3 or 4 pages of this forum have been finding out, understanding how VAT works in cases like this isn't just a case of reading and quoting a couple of paragraphs from Wikipedia.

 

True... I agree the vat system probably isn't easy to grasp. But THAT IS NOT OUR CONCERN! If Groundspeak wants to play with the big boys running a multinational they have to have their stuff together BEFORE they implement it!

 

Thinking long and hard en learning curves are just a crappy excuse for incompetence!

 

And that's exactly what Groundspeak is doing at all levels lately: the keyword search puts to much load on the servers so instead of figuring it out they just cripple the functionality; it seems like they have to start charging vat for European users so instead of calculating it correctly they charge something that is correct for nobody...

 

That might be good enough for a little hobby club in a little rural town but if you want to play with the big boys "almost" simply isn't good enough!

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That might be good enough for a little hobby club in a little rural town but if you want to play with the big boys "almost" simply isn't good enough!

You'll have to point me at the press release where Groundspeak announce their intention to "play with the big boys". I just see a small, family-owned, cash-based company that has a nice near-monopoly on something that people apparently find it hard to do without. If people choose to project that onto some fictitious cigar-smoking evil capitalist with a shiny top hat, that's really their problem.

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That might be good enough for a little hobby club in a little rural town but if you want to play with the big boys "almost" simply isn't good enough!

You'll have to point me at the press release where Groundspeak announce their intention to "play with the big boys". I just see a small, family-owned, cash-based company that has a nice near-monopoly on something that people apparently find it hard to do without. If people choose to project that onto some fictitious cigar-smoking evil capitalist with a shiny top hat, that's really their problem.

 

And that was absolutely fine, right up to the point where Groundspeak decided they had outgrown that very thing and decided to up prices throughout Europe and claim they were doing so because they wanted to pay VAT in Europe and quoted EU Tax law they should have been following for a decade. And even THEN that would have been fine, right up to the point where they refused to provide the VAT number (which is illegal), and having talked some utter rubbish on here, and lied to us, they then went very quiet without explaining why they refused to give out something they are legally obliged to, leaving us to draw the conclusion that they are not in fact paying VAT in Europe and put the price up by lying to us. (Or they are so incompetent those involved need help putting on their own pants)

 

That, in a nutshell, is why I'm not happy with the conduct of a "mom and pop business" in America that is screwing me personally, and my country's VAT system. If it had stayed pricing locally, something that's worked well so far, fine.

 

One has to wonder whether you are an independant and unaffected bystander who is particularly obtuse, or a plant by Groundspeak to attempt to talk down this cockup of theirs. If the latter, it ain't working.

 

Seems I'm not alone in being unhappy, as I'm aware that some people claim to have reported Groundspeak to the UK's tax agency, HMRC, as well as Germany's and probably more throughout Europe (This isn't the only place this is being discussed). Lots are also claiming that they'll not renew Premium membership when it comes around. Both of these *should* get us some attention from any business, but still... nothing.

 

Even if this wasn't serious (Remember how they got Al Capone!), the mere fact that it's upsetting customers should make any business - big, small, top-hatted or mom-and-pop - respect its customers enough to engage with them.

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And that was absolutely fine, right up to the point where Groundspeak decided they had outgrown that very thing and decided to up prices throughout Europe and claim they were doing so because they wanted to pay VAT in Europe and quoted EU Tax law they should have been following for a decade. And even THEN that would have been fine, right up to the point where they refused to provide the VAT number (which is illegal), and having talked some utter rubbish on here, and lied to us, they then went very quiet without explaining why they refused to give out something they are legally obliged to, leaving us to draw the conclusion that they are not in fact paying VAT in Europe and put the price up by lying to us. (Or they are so incompetent those involved need help putting on their own pants)

So you're saying that you believe that the company's director of finance, a qualified attorney, came in here and told lies in a public forum in a way that could be used against him in a criminal prosecution for VAT fraud? Would you perhaps like to consider for the briefest moment the remote possibility that you might not know everything that's going on in this situation?

 

One has to wonder whether you are an independant and unaffected bystander who is particularly obtuse, or a plant by Groundspeak to attempt to talk down this cockup of theirs. If the latter, it ain't working.

Groundspeak hasn't asked or told me to write anything. (But of course, you can decide that I'm lying about that too if you want.) You may have noticed that one of the company owners has already explained the situation, in considerable detail, earlier in this thread. You can either imply that he's lying, or accept that this is probably a complex situation for a US company to be in for the first time and that they might not understand everything. As far as I know Bryan has pretty much a 100% record of telling the truth when he posts in these forums, so I know which of those two alternatives I'm assuming to be correct right now.

 

Seems I'm not alone in being unhappy, as I'm aware that some people claim to have reported Groundspeak to the UK's tax agency, HMRC, as well as Germany's and probably more throughout Europe (This isn't the only place this is being discussed).

HMRC is presumably fully aware of Groundspeak's VAT situation, since Groundspeak has just registered for VAT in the UK with HMRC, and is probably discussing the ins and outs of details like publishing the VAT number with them right now. And asking any other country's tax agency will result in them saying "Well, in what country is this US company registered for VAT? The UK? Well, talk to HMRC then".

Edited by sTeamTraen
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As I said earlier, at the end of the day we either pay it or don't. I have, a couple of hours ago. I was not whinging or moaning or whatever sTeamTraen decided to lengthily point out..(too much leisure time maybe, that was a lot of script). I think what the majority of us has been saying all along is that it would have caused a lot less hassle if the company had informed us in their usually informative weekly newsletter.

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While I agree that the communication could have been better, the accusations of fraud are laughable. From this lengthy discussion it's obvious that tax laws are not trivial, and I don't see that GS has anything to gain by responding to baseless accusations of fraud. If they say they have a VAT, I'm sure they do. Do they have to report it the number in these forums just because some guy asks for it? I doubt it. I'm sure the VAT information is reported where it is required. The forums are hardly the place to do so.

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For those interested in the VAT-rates of european countries.

 

The current standard rate of VAT is between 15% - 27%. Visit this site and you can see which countries charges which percent.

http://www.vatlive.com/vat-rates/european-vat-rates/eu-vat-rates/

 

Great.

If the VAT # for a company is supposed to be so transparent, how come one can't simply look it up, as you did the rates?

 

Note: This is an honest question, I'm not trying to prove a point here.

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Interesting. Looking at that site for only a few moments, am I to conclude that a business is only required to provide a VAT invoice when performing a business to business sale of goods or services to another VAT registered business?

 

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?

 

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.

 

I'm honestly trying to get a better understanding of this Tax system and why Groundspeak may be reluctant to publish their number in a public forum. In my state, California, B2B sales are handled much differently. If I am buying a product which I am reselling, I provide my tax # to the business that I am buying my product from and they do not change me for sales tax. If I resell the product to another reseller, I take their number and do not change charge the tax. If I am selling to the actual consumer, then I collect the tax and remit it to the state. This idea of collecting the money, giving it to the government and then having you claim it back just looks like a big system which lets the government borrow your money, interest free until the time that you claim it back.

Edited by Don_J
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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.

 

A company's VAT nr is on every invoice I get here in Belgium.

 

and do not change the tax. If I am selling to the actual consumer, then I collect the tax and remit it to the state. This idea of collecting the money, giving it to the government and then having you claim it back just looks like a big system which lets the government borrow your money, interest free until the time that you claim it back.

 

That's not GS's way of doing it. They take the PM price, add VAT, round it up claiming it's easier for the EU customer as they won't have to worry about bankcharges and exchange rates while all they have to do is charge PM fee + VAT. We do have creditcards over here and can pay in US$ without a problem. As for bankcharges, there are none for CC payments. The option to pay via Paypal also lets us pay in US$.

 

Do you round up the selling price or do you add an exact amount of sales tax?

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To summarize:

 

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

- It is illegal to charge VAT without an invoice where VAT is shown.

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

- It might be illegal, but at least it is not honest to show the price in dollar and to charge it in Euro.

 

Please correct me, if I am wrong...

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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.

Edited by squirrel42
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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.
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So ... to post it clear and simple. If Groundspeak tell us, that the prices are now with VAT, they have to tell us the net-price and VAT - amount. They also have to public their VAT - ID. If they dont do this, it is illegal and all European have the opportunity to sue GS.

 

I dont think, that this will be necessary :) on the other side, Groundspeak may be the only possibility for global Geocaching, but still they have to take care of their members. Without our caches, they could not exist, and we could not cache without GS. Therefore please, answer, communicate and clean up this situation.

Edited by Chapeman
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