Argos shenanigans

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markjay

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At home, needed a printer urgently for weekend work (old one has partially blocked nozzle) and didn't fancy a trip to the office in Friday evening traffic (2 hours round trip at that time), so ordered a cheap printer online at Argos, paid by company credit card, and collected at the local Argos store.

On collection, I asked about a VAT invoice? - "It's in your email". Err... no it's not. I have an order confirmation email showing the total amount paid, but the words 'VAT', 'Invoice', or 'Receipt' are not showing anywhere, and there's no breakdown showing the VAT amount. The chap at the store said they could do a 'manual invoice' but I'll need to wait or come back another day. I thought why bother, it will be available online, surely?

Went back home, later checked my Argus online account... no mention of how one might get a VAT invoice. Clicked on the live chat button, and got through to a call handler.

Unhelpfully, the call handler explained to me that because I did not mention a company name when placing the order online (my company credit card is in my name, so I used that for the order), they are unable to produce a VAT receipt. I said fine, make the VAT receipt to me personally, i.e., to the name showing on the order? Well no, they only provide VAT receipts to companies, and beside the address I provided is a residential address (hmmm... I wonder... does Argos have a social policy against people running their business from home?).

I tried insisting that if they charge VAT then they should be able to provide a receipt showing the VAT amount taken, regardless of who the customer is, but hit a brick wall. I than asked if I could simply return the printer for full refund, then reorder the same again this time mentioning the company name next to my own? Will they then be able to provide me with a VAT invoice? I was half-hoping that at some point they'll realise it would be easier for them to just send me the bl---y VAT receipt instead of sticking to their unreasonable policies and procedures. - "No this is not possible Sir, because I have now placed a note in your file and the goods can no longer be returned or refunded."

WFT...? A note on my file..? Saying what exactly? What was my crime... ? I am placed on a blacklist for asking for a VAT receipt? This then came to mind...:

"Please, sir, I want a VAT receipt."
The call handler was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small text on screen for some seconds, and then clung for support to the PC. The other call handlers were paralysed with wonder; their customers with fear.
"What!" typed the call handler at length, in small font.
"Please, sir," replied the customer, "I want a VAT receipt."


I did however manage to remain calm, and mentioned UK consumer law and remote sale etc, and the right to return any good ordered online or by phone for full refund within 14 days etc etc. I then realised that this might be beyond the call handler's pay grade... asked to be transferred to a manger.

I did not get to talk to a manager, but after a long pause the call handler got back to me saying that yes they will send me a VAT receipt, but only in the post (i.e., not online or by email... Argus, it's 2018, you know?), and only after the Argus 30 days refund expired... So they do have a store refund policy??? Not mentioned at all when I was told I can no longer return the goods less than 24 hours after I bought them.... and what's the shtik with 30 days delay? Are they suggesting that I might try and claim back the VAT then return to goods for refund? Even so, why is it to them anyway? Every other business in the UK provides a VAT receipt at the point of sale, never heard of having to wait till the refund period has expired.......

At this point I gave up. Will go to the store and see about that 'manual invoice', or just won't bother claiming back the VAT on the printer.

Now I can understand that Argos was originally a high-street catalogue store chain, and they they are new to online selling (possibly dragged into it reluctantly by the likes of Amazon), and I can also understand that they are a B2C retail business and cater for consumers so are not very good with B2B sales, but for a national company with decades of trading history, getting so many things wrong is abysmal.

The lesson of the story? When you hear about Woolworths and BHS going out of business, and House of Fraser and Poundland on the brink, they always blame the market, consumer habits, online shopping, etc. But they never look at how they run and manage their own business. Lack of leadership, lack of good strong middle management, lack of sensible processes and procedures, plus customer-facing staff who are demotivated because they are surrounded by mismanagement, etc etc, are all factors that play in the background and can lead to the collapse of a business, who's bosses will then blame it on 'the market'.

Rant over...
 
There's a note on your file now.

On.Your.File.

Be afraid...

Actually, I'd be tempted to file a subject access request because you are so concerned what this file note might say about you.
 
At home, needed a printer urgently for weekend work (old one has partially blocked nozzle) and didn't fancy a trip to the office in Friday evening traffic (2 hours round trip at that time), so ordered a cheap printer online at Argos, paid by company credit card, and collected at the local Argos store.

On collection, I asked about a VAT invoice? - "It's in your email". Err... no it's not. I have an order confirmation email showing the total amount paid, but the words 'VAT', 'Invoice', or 'Receipt' are not showing anywhere, and there's no breakdown showing the VAT amount. The chap at the store said they could do a 'manual invoice' but I'll need to wait or come back another day. I thought why bother, it will be available online, surely?

Went back home, later checked my Argus online account... no mention of how one might get a VAT invoice. Clicked on the live chat button, and got through to a call handler.

Unhelpfully, the call handler explained to me that because I did not mention a company name when placing the order online (my company credit card is in my name, so I used that for the order), they are unable to produce a VAT receipt. I said fine, make the VAT receipt to me personally, i.e., to the name showing on the order? Well no, they only provide VAT receipts to companies, and beside the address I provided is a residential address (hmmm... I wonder... does Argos have a social policy against people running their business from home?).

I tried insisting that if they charge VAT then they should be able to provide a receipt showing the VAT amount taken, regardless of who the customer is, but hit a brick wall. I than asked if I could simply return the printer for full refund, then reorder the same again this time mentioning the company name next to my own? Will they then be able to provide me with a VAT invoice? I was half-hoping that at some point they'll realise it would be easier for them to just send me the bl---y VAT receipt instead of sticking to their unreasonable policies and procedures. - "No this is not possible Sir, because I have now placed a note in your file and the goods can no longer be returned or refunded."

WFT...? A note on my file..? Saying what exactly? What was my crime... ? I am placed on a blacklist for asking for a VAT receipt? This then came to mind...:

"Please, sir, I want a VAT receipt."
The call handler was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small text on screen for some seconds, and then clung for support to the PC. The other call handlers were paralysed with wonder; their customers with fear.
"What!" typed the call handler at length, in small font.
"Please, sir," replied the customer, "I want a VAT receipt."


I did however manage to remain calm, and mentioned UK consumer law and remote sale etc, and the right to return any good ordered online or by phone for full refund within 14 days etc etc. I then realised that this might be beyond the call handler's pay grade... asked to be transferred to a manger.

I did not get to talk to a manager, but after a long pause the call handler got back to me saying that yes they will send me a VAT receipt, but only in the post (i.e., not online or by email... Argus, it's 2018, you know?), and only after the Argus 30 days refund expired... So they do have a store refund policy??? Not mentioned at all when I was told I can no longer return the goods less than 24 hours after I bought them.... and what's the shtik with 30 days delay? Are they suggesting that I might try and claim back the VAT then return to goods for refund? Even so, why is it to them anyway? Every other business in the UK provides a VAT receipt at the point of sale, never heard of having to wait till the refund period has expired.......

At this point I gave up. Will go to the store and see about that 'manual invoice', or just won't bother claiming back the VAT on the printer.

Now I can understand that Argos was originally a high-street catalogue store chain, and they they are new to online selling (possibly dragged into it reluctantly by the likes of Amazon), and I can also understand that they are a B2C retail business and cater for consumers so are not very good with B2B sales, but for a national company with decades of trading history, getting so many things wrong is abysmal.

The lesson of the story? When you hear about Woolworths and BHS going out of business, and House of Fraser and Poundland on the brink, they always blame the market, consumer habits, online shopping, etc. But they never look at how they run and manage their own business. Lack of leadership, lack of good strong middle management, lack of sensible processes and procedures, plus customer-facing staff who are demotivated because they are surrounded by mismanagement, etc etc, are all factors that play in the background and can lead to the collapse of a business, who's bosses will then blame it on 'the market'.

Rant over...

In the future use Amazon, being in London you should be able to get items delivered to your door within 1hour or 2hours at the most.

Amazon as usual have excellent customer service & VAT invoices are easily printed from your online account.

Keep it in mind :)
 
Hi,
I was always under the impression that if a company charges you VAT for a product or service (as they are a VAT registered company) - then they are obliged to provide you with a VAT invoice - regardless of whether you are a consumer or business customer.
If you ordered the printer online - then distance selling regulations apply - giving you very powerful rights and the ability to return the item for a full refund.
Cheers
Steve
 
Hi,
I was always under the impression that if a company charges you VAT for a product or service (as they are a VAT registered company) - then they are obliged to provide you with a VAT invoice - regardless of whether you are a consumer or business customer.
If you ordered the printer online - then distance selling regulations apply - giving you very powerful rights and the ability to return the item for a full refund.
Cheers
Steve

I agree with both points.... but both their call handler the manager were apparently oblivious to this. Need more training... eh?
 
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I have read this amazed,it just shows you just what a shambles some companies are,from a simple request for a VAT receipt,you are now on the bad boys list.
 
I can sympathise with your rant, but was all that effort really worth it for a VAT receipt for cheap printer? Yes, I know it’s a matter of principle and it goes to illustrate perhaps why so many large companies are struggling.

Anyway, I have to pull you up on your statement that “every other business in the UK provides a VAT receipt at the point of sale”. For a start, obviously small businesses that aren’t VAT registered won’t do this. And despite the requirement to make such a receipt available on request, many VAT registered companies don’t provide a receipt as a matter of course. As far as I’m aware, it’s only a legal requirement to provide one if requested (as you did). My wife had a VAT registered hairdressing business for many years and made a point of only providing receipts when requested as a slight nod to saving trees. Hardly any of the hundreds of customers asked for a receipt.
 
I can sympathise with your rant, but was all that effort really worth it for a VAT receipt for cheap printer? Yes, I know it’s a matter of principle and it goes to illustrate perhaps why so many large companies are struggling.

Anyway, I have to pull you up on your statement that “every other business in the UK provides a VAT receipt at the point of sale”. For a start, obviously small businesses that aren’t VAT registered won’t do this. And despite the requirement to make such a receipt available on request, many VAT registered companies don’t provide a receipt as a matter of course. As far as I’m aware, it’s only a legal requirement to provide one if requested (as you did). My wife had a VAT registered hairdressing business for many years and made a point of only providing receipts when requested as a slight nod to saving trees. Hardly any of the hundreds of customers asked for a receipt.

I appreciate your response, but I think you are taking it our of context....

My comment that "Every other business in the UK provides a VAT receipt at the point of sale, never heard of having to wait till the refund period has expired......." was in relation to their odd policy that a VAT invoice can only be issued after the refund period has expired.

What I should have probably said is that other businesses may or may not issue an invoice, but I have never heard of issuing the invoice only after the store's returns policy has expired... I can understand that someone might obtain an invoice, then return the item for full refund and still claim the VAT, but this would be VAT fraud and at any rate it's not something that Argos should be policing... and if someone is that way minded, then they can do this with any store in the UK, from M&S through Amazon to Apple, not sure why Argos have taken it on themselves to lead the battle against VAT fraud... or why they are assuming that I might commit such an act in the first place.

The truth is that this is most likely a policy made-up on the spot by a line manager who has not been given proper training and guidelines, and is dishing-out 'store policy' statements to resolve issues escalated to him by equally clueless front-line staff. I am obviously speculating here, but I seriously doubt that any of the 'policies' mentioned on the call are real actual policies from Argus, signed off by the relevant Director etc.

The cost of the printer and a spare set of cartridges by the way was £139.48, so the VAT amount is £23.25. Not a huge amount, granted, but it would still be nice to get it back... and the key issue for me is that I was not expecting there to be any issue in getting an invoice, I am stumped at the amount of resistance I encountered at all levels, which as said, most likely resulted from sheer incompetence, though not necessarily through a fault of the employees themselves.

As for saving trees... this is clearly not an item on Argos' agenda, who only send invoices by post, but not by email or via their website.
 
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Hi,
Interestingly - on the .gov website - it states that VAT receipts should be sent within 30 days of providing the product or service - so Argos are breaking this regulation by waiting until after 30 days!
VAT record keeping

Cheers
Steve
 
Claim for everything!
Worst case scenario is an investigation and requirement to repay (with interest) if they spot your error
 
We have a constant battle trying to get VAT receipts/invoices for business purchases. We end up wasting so much time & I'm paying staff to deal with this at x per hour. My take now is request it and chase after again once. We find their VAT number & claim the VAT back. We cannot justify spending lots of time with silly things like this.

Most companies are good & most purchases aren't too much of an issue but some can be a pain. It is not my problem. They are VAT registered and have charged VAT. As a VAT registered business we aren't going to lose out because idiots like Argos can't easily give.you a VAT receipt.

Don't worry about it any longer. We know Argos are VAT registered and have charged VAT so claim it back. Let bl00dy HMRC sort it out. We collect all their VAT for them for free unpaid.

I have never understood the point of VAT registered businesses charging VAT in the first place to other VAT registered business. What is the point? You have the seller, buyer & HMRC all doing admin for no reason. What a waste of time. Seller charges VAT, buyer claims VAT back.....pointless.

When you we buy often from EU you give them your UK VAT reg. number & they don't charge VAT. Why don't we do that on UK to UK transactions?

I don't see what the problem is stopping anyone such as Argos proving the receipt with a basic VAT breakdown. It exists on their systems & has been calculated on that sale. It takes up a few lines of print & doesn't really need a 2nd VAT receipt. Same with petrol stations. Why do I need to ask for one then get 2 receipts?

Always makes me laugh when you ask for a VAT receipt & they say that is it. You say...there is no VAT number or breakdown on the receipt. It even says 'this is NOT a VAT receipt' but they look at you with blank eyes & say that is the VAT receipt. I just can't be bothered to argue at that point.
 
Amazon as usual have excellent customer service & VAT invoices are easily printed from your online account.

Keep it in mind :)

Unless you buy and it's actually a marketplace supplier -even if it's fulfilled by Amazon.

At which point things can get a bit more interesting.

The supplier might not actually be VAT registered - or UK based - or might be European and VAT registered.
 
I did however manage to remain calm, and mentioned UK consumer law and remote sale etc, and the right to return any good ordered online or by phone for full refund within 14 days etc etc.

UK consumer law doesn't apply because you're not a consumer, you're a business.
 
UK consumer law doesn't apply because you're not a consumer, you're a business.
This is a very good point. BUT Argos can't have their cake and eat it... if they say I didn't buy it as a business, then consumer laws should apply.
 
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The bottom line is... I asked for a VAT Receipt. It a simple request that could and should have been fulfilled in seconds. Make it available for download from my online account, email it to me (as they did with the order confirmation), or just print it out in store... no idea what possible benefit Argus have from making this a difficult and protracted proccess.
 
I'm not too sure what the hassle or difficulty is either. If one of our customers asks for an invoice or copy of one. We email it over as a PDF in seconds. We are a tiny little small business & have a miniscule amount of resource, money & systems in comparison to the likes of guys like Argos. All this PayPal this, Apple Pay that and fasttrack order system & they can't even give you a simple VAT receipt....bonkers!
 
The bottom line is... I asked for a VAT Receipt. It a simple request that could and should have been fulfilled in seconds. Make it available for download from my online account, email it to me (as they did with the order confirmation), or just print it out in store... no idea what possible benefit Argus have from making this a difficult and protracted proccess.
At the moment they make an invoice they are due to HMRC VAT amount. Waiting for 30 days for a return period to pass is their excuse for keeping the 20% of each transaction for minimum of 30 days upto maximum of 60 days. With monthly sales of aproximately 341 million pounds 20% is 68 million cash pounds on their accounts to play with.
That is why you can’t get the invoice now.
 
At the moment they make an invoice they are due to HMRC VAT amount. Waiting for 30 days for a return period to pass is their excuse for keeping the 20% of each transaction for minimum of 30 days upto maximum of 60 days. With monthly sales of aproximately 341 million pounds 20% is 68 million cash pounds on their accounts to play with.
That is why you can’t get the invoice now.
Hi,
They are probably not doing this - as the tax point is the earlier of either the date of supply or the date of the invoice.
If they are issuing invoices late to avoid paying VAT early - then they would risk being caught for VAT fraud.
I suspect pure, old fashioned incompetence!
Cheers
Steve
 

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