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When "duty free" is not duty free

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Mattg

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Anyone noticed how buying "duty free" at the airport is usually so much more expensive than just buying whatever it is you want to buy at the local supermarket or online?

I thought the whole idea of duty free was that it was exempt from tax and therefore should be cheaper. But it isn't cheaper at all.

And then there is "duty free" purchases where you are charged tax. For example, I was in Athens airport in the international departures area a while ago and noticed on my receipt at a shop which actually called itself a "duty free" store that Greek sales tax had been added to the price. So in other words, my purchase wasn't actually duty (tax) free at all.

Has anyone else noticed this? I haven't taken enough notice to see if this problem exists in other countries but I suspect it does.
 

juddles

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It is a complex área. If a country (like Australia) has very large taxes on products like alcohol, it is still worth buying duty free inbound. But in the handful of countries I visit regularly, the street prices are as good or better. But other factors come into it, for example in Colombia:

1.- International spirits (your whiskies, etc) are cheaper duty free.
2.- Wines are defintely cheaper duty-free.
3.- Local spirits (rums, aguaardientes) are much more expensive duty free than in the local shop.
4.- I have a source of ¨informal¨ duty free for some ítems that are cheaper than any of the above options. :)

As there are so many members visiting so many countries on this fórum, why can´t someone set up a central resource thread where the prices of a group of representative ítems is kept - Street and duty free prices?
 

trippin_the_rift

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Everything at Australian duty free is available cheaper elsewhere. I was forced to buy some batteries 'duty free' yesterday at bne intl and paid 3x more than they cost at Coles and was hit for a 1% surcharge. **** them. We need an Uber for duty free to step in
 

markis10

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Anyone noticed how buying "duty free" at the airport is usually so much more expensive than just buying whatever it is you want to buy at the local supermarket or online?

I thought the whole idea of duty free was that it was exempt from tax and therefore should be cheaper. But it isn't cheaper at all.

And then there is "duty free" purchases where you are charged tax. For example, I was in Athens airport in the international departures area a while ago and noticed on my receipt at a shop which actually called itself a "duty free" store that Greek sales tax had been added to the price. So in other words, my purchase wasn't actually duty (tax) free at all.

Has anyone else noticed this? I haven't taken enough notice to see if this problem exists in other countries but I suspect it does.

Duty free does not necessarily mean sales tax or GST free, it refers to the long tradition of many countries of charging import duties. These are now becoming increasingly rarer thanks to free trade agreements and the like. While many countries also permit the waiver of other taxes, there is no waiver of profit, and in many countries the provider is the same company that operates stores worldwide, making a good profit for themselves and their landlords.
 

kyle

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I always believed that Duty Free was just the name of the shop.
 

CMA222

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Your regular Moët is cheaper at countdown in NZ.

Moet and Taittinger are cheaper at Dan Murphy's than at SYD Airport Duty Free. The same applies to many of the fine Australian wines that are for sale. The visitor will pay the inflated prices because they do not know what the regular (retail) prices are and think they are getting a bargain as they depart. Spirits, because of the higher alcohol levies at retail, tend to be cheaper at the duty free shops but actual savings vary widely from country to country IME.
 

RooFlyer

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And I think in Europe ( eg Greece), you only get the 'duty free' amount back when you finally leave the EU, not the component countries. That's why you were charged it up front.
 

MEL_Traveller

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Anyone noticed how buying "duty free" at the airport is usually so much more expensive than just buying whatever it is you want to buy at the local supermarket or online?

I thought the whole idea of duty free was that it was exempt from tax and therefore should be cheaper. But it isn't cheaper at all.

ha! 'duty free' and 'tax free' don't mean 'profit free'. Especially in Australia.

Have a look at a carton of cigarettes... before the introduction of the 50 stick limit, they retailed for around $130 a carton in the supermarkets, airport duty free was selling them for $88 a carton.

Buy them overseas and you'd pay $20 a carton for the same item (and still do!)

Upwards of $60 profit per carton to the airport concessions in Australia.

Alcohol can be cheaper duty free here in Au, but there are still hefty profits being levied on 'top shelf' products such as Grey Goose. Buy the same item overseas and it might attract a premium of just a couple dollars over a brand such as Smirnoff or Absolute. In Australia the difference is far greater.
 

Pushka

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Dans killed off duty free. That and the bother you have to go to to bring back liquids. BKK departure last week at check in they warned not to buy alcohol once past security because it will be taken away. Sure enough at the gate all bags were searched for alcohol (not screened by X-ray but checked by a person). We didn't care as we hadn't bought any but had also just been upgraded to F.
 

PLANT

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Many store in Lax TBIT that are after customs that are not duty free at all! Beware
 
Vinomofo is the best wine deals site on the planet. Good wines, real people and epic deals, without all the bowties and bs.

Recommended by the Australian Frequent Flyer

opusman

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I'll still buy scotch on the way in to Aus (or in DXB), but that's about it. Often the price for the bottle is the same as on the shelf in Dan's but you get 1L instead of 700mL.
 

Pushka

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I'll still buy scotch on the way in to Aus (or in DXB), but that's about it. Often the price for the bottle is the same as on the shelf in Dan's but you get 1L instead of 700mL.

Why is it that from some airports you can no longer bring back alcohol from duty free. Bali and Bangkok come to mind recently and Singapore is a bit of a pain too.
 

woodborer

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Duty Free stores in Australia seem to sell basically at the manufacturers recommended price (less GST), whereas you can generally do better out on the street where there is a bit of competition.....
 

MEL_Traveller

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Why is it that from some airports you can no longer bring back alcohol from duty free. Bali and Bangkok come to mind recently and Singapore is a bit of a pain too.

australian regualtions for LAGs. US has similar provisions (including gate checks).

Some airports have arrangements in place to allow carriage of liquids in excess of 100ml provided they are delivered at the gate (for example SIN).
 

tomo69

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I'm not a frequent savvy international flyer ( yet anyway) but last year in Auckland we purchased a lovely and relatively expensive bottle of South Island Pinot noir. Now I though I was able to bring into Australia (and take out of NZ) up to 3 bottle of wine. So going through nz customs I was separated and bag searched and wine hastily confiscated. I was then told I could buy duty free from the airport but not from any old shop.
Is this the case, are alcohol purchases only to be made from duty free shops?
And same bottle was more expensive inside the airport !
 

markis10

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I'm not a frequent savvy international flyer ( yet anyway) but last year in Auckland we purchased a lovely and relatively expensive bottle of South Island Pinot noir. Now I though I was able to bring into Australia (and take out of NZ) up to 3 bottle of wine. So going through nz customs I was separated and bag searched and wine hastily confiscated. I was then told I could buy duty free from the airport but not from any old shop.
Is this the case, are alcohol purchases only to be made from duty free shops?
And same bottle was more expensive inside the airport !

You got caught out having too much liquids, the fact it was alcohol was irrelevant, had it been water it would have been the same.
 

blackcat20

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I'm not a frequent savvy international flyer ( yet anyway) but last year in Auckland we purchased a lovely and relatively expensive bottle of South Island Pinot noir. Now I though I was able to bring into Australia (and take out of NZ) up to 3 bottle of wine. So going through nz customs I was separated and bag searched and wine hastily confiscated. I was then told I could buy duty free from the airport but not from any old shop.
Is this the case, are alcohol purchases only to be made from duty free shops?
And same bottle was more expensive inside the airport !
It needed to be packed in checked luggage.
 

tomo69

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It was only the one bottle of wine though. Yes checked baggage next time for sure.
 
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