Saturday, 8 March 2014

Argos: Can't tell difference between an invoice and a credit note!

We got some things from Argos. It was actually a pile of mobile phones for testing voice SIMs. It came to more than £100.

Having got the phones I asked for a VAT receipt. The order ticket does not have the details of VAT rate, or amount, etc, so is not good enough to reclaim VAT.

Now, in most shops, this is simple, they can either print off one, or hand write one. It takes a couple of minutes, and you have the VAT receipt. Without it you cannot reclaim the VAT, so losing 16.66% of what you paid. Obviously one could hope not to be picked up on a VAT inspection, but we do things right, and it is generally no hassle to do things right.

He went away for about quarter of an hour, and finally came back with a hand filled out Credit Note!

For those that do not know, a credit note is the opposite of an invoice/receipt. It says the goods have been un-sold and the money (and VAT) are to be paid back. If we, as a business, have a credit note, we have to pay the VAT part of that to HMRC.

So, now, technically, instead of just being unable to claim £40 of VAT, I should actually pay HMRC an extra £40 of VAT.

I pointed out his mistake, and he went away. He came back and was absolutely adamant that this is all he can give me, and his store support people he called confirmed it is valid and legal and not a mistake. He said he is not allowed to issue a manual invoice. He also could not issue an invoice from his tills.

I argued, and showed him the The Value Added Tax Regulations 1995 on my phone, but still no luck.

I am at a loss now - I have advised HMRC that Argos don't know the difference between a Credit Note and an Invoice. I have also asked how they want me to handle the VAT. This could result in Argos getting a VAT inspection, with any luck.

In the mean time I have sent a copy of the Credit Note to Argos and asked for them to pay it. After all, it is a legal document stating that they now owe us money, and for which there is no record of any payment having been made. They chose to issue it. They were adamant it was not a mistake. So a nice gift from them. We'll see what happens.

Update: those regulations have been amended, but the legislation.gov.uk site does not keep them updated, which is a nuisance. The do have a way to list changes though. The amount for a simplified retail receipt was changed to £250 in 2003, and a general option for a simplified receipt up to £250 was added in 2012. However, the order slip they provided did not meet even those requirements (not showing VAT rate), so I was still right to ask for a VAT receipt (even a simplified one), and giving me a credit note was completely wrong.

Update: Argos say on their web site that to get a VAT receipt you should email them. I did, the reply is that they cannot send one, and I should ask in the store. oh what fun!

14 comments:

  1. What is this value of 16.66% ? I thought the current VAT rate is 20%.

    Great if they do end up with a VAT inspection. I presume that when he went away for 15 mins and returned with a credit note, he did speak to someone higher up who obviously advised him to do this. That being the case, it sounds to me like there are more and more occurrences of higher positioned people within companies who just... do not know what they are doing. Which is highly worrying.

    Good luck on getting the money returned to you via the credit note; keep us posted on that! :-)

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    1. Yes it is 20%, so I reclaim 1/6th of what was actually paid (16.66%), He definitely went off to speak to people several times and called the store support number he had. Took half an hour before I eventually gave up.

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  2. So for free money from Argos buy goods and ask for a VAT receipt and then take the credit note and ask for them to pay it...

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    1. I seriously doubt they will pay it, but you never know. Will be interesting to hear what they say, and what HMRC say.

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  3. They say on their website you can email them for a VAT receipt http://www.argos.co.uk/m/static/StaticDisplay/includeName/customer_services_faq_refunds_m.html

    I am very surprised they don't provide you with a VAT receipt every time, that would be more sensible!

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    1. Indeed, I will try emailing in for one. I am surprised they don't just print the required details on the order slip and be done with it. I am also surprised that they store manager and his store support people did not know that you can email to get one.

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    2. If they can't tell the difference between a credit note and an invoice, they probably have no clue what an email is!

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  4. In respect of: "The order ticket does not have the details of VAT rate, or amount, etc, so is not good enough to reclaim VAT."

    Oddly, at least according to http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/managing/charging/vat-invoices.htm#6 a simplified VAT invoice does *not* have to include the VAT rate (unless it includes items that are at different VAT rates).

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    1. The legislation says it doea

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    2. I should've checked that shouldn't I :-)

      I boggle that HMRC have apparently got such a simple thing wrong. (I wonder if HMRC would follow their own guidance in the event of a VAT inspection?)

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    3. Yeh, it says: "(e)for each rate of VAT chargeable, the gross amount payable including VAT, and the VAT rate applicable"

      So even if one rate applies, it should state the rate.

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  5. Had very much the same issue with PC World. You can't get one as a consumer, you have to buy through PC World for business. Which you are meant to psychically know beforehand. Anyway, as you say, it says to email for a VAT receipt. And just like your case, "Sorry, you should have asked at the store" who had said "You have to email"!

    So yeah. I suspect a big VAT fiddle (legal of course) that helps keep them lowest priced.

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  6. I think instead of saying Argos don't know the difference between a Credit Note and an Invoice. It should be your local Argos store doesn't know the difference. I shop between two different local Argos stores to me, I go to the customer service tills of either one, I inform them prior to making my purchases I will be requiring a VAT receipt. In next to no time I'm walking out of the store with my item(s), the normal receipt and a hand written VAT receipt with absolutely no hassle.

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  7. Out of interest this is STILL an issue..........
    I went to a store - asked for a VAT receipt - got told they can't print them and to go phone or go online and ask for one.
    Did that - got told they can't do that - and that I had to go back to the store................ where the staff were correct that they could NOT print them............. but they would hand write one!!!!!


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