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Talking with the taxman about football

Embed from Getty Images

I do apologise for this, but I’m going to have to publish two political posts in one week. At least this one is just as much about football fandom as it is about that topic you’re not supposed to bring up in polite conversation…

Earlier in the week the government announced plans to try to collect GST on things we buy online from overseas websites. They already do this on items valued over $400, an amount that was set because it’s uneconomic to collect tax on lower amounts, but the minister has indicated that the threshold could soon drop to either $20 or even zero, in line with a similar Australian proposal.

Why? Because retailers have been crying out for this for years. They don’t believe they have a level playing field given you can buy a book via Amazon.com, for argument’s sake, without paying GST. Obviously the same item purchased in New Zealand, assuming it’s available here, attracts GST. Brick and mortar retailers believe that online retailers are putting them out of business.

But from my perspective as a consumer and a football fan that’s nonsense. What’s stopping them from getting my money is their inability to offer a decent choice.

If I could walk into Rebel Sport and buy a Roma shirt, believe me, that’s what I would do. I would not go online, take a huge gamble with sizing, hand over my credit card details, wait two weeks for delivery, and stress about where the courier driver will leave it and whether or not it will be stolen from my doorstep.

If a local New Zealand retailer wants to sell me that shirt, they will absolutely get my money and I would be happy to pay a premium to buy it here to boot. And if Rebel Sport think adding 15% GST to the Roma Store’s prices will make me buy Manchester United gear off them instead I’ve got news for them!

Before Roma was bought out by the current owners, there was even less interest from the club in having overseas fans than there is now, and shipping would cost me more than the price of the shirt!! Do you think that stopped me???

What else do I buy online? Books and DVDs. I was at Sylvia Park shopping centre last night and decided to take the opportunity to do a quick bit of research. I went into Whitcoulls and the first thing I always notice there is it’s basically a toy shop these days. Books are like an afterthought to them. They have them on the top floor but the selection is dismal. For those keeping score that’s Amazon.com 319,062 – New Zealand retailers 0. Walking into New Zealand bookshops, unless it’s Unity Books, is a complete waste of shoe rubber.

Then I went to JB Hi-Fi to look for a DVD I have felt like watching for the last couple of weeks. Jerry Maguire. Pretty popular flick, right? Basic, common blockbuster, nothing obscure, should be a New Zealand DVD retailer’s bread and butter. Couldn’t spot it on the shelves. Asked at the counter. After waiting an eternity for a “DVD advisor” to come to deign to help me, she tapped a few keys on the computer, looked at me like I was a piece of dirt on the bottom of her shoe and said “can’t get it, sorry”.

So I had a look at the ‘Sport’ shelf to see what football offerings they had to keep me quiet instead. This was what I found:

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I mean, could there be anything more excruciating than watching 500 goals on five different discs??? I’d rather gouge my own eyes out and with all due modesty I think I’m a pretty big football fan. Yet given the fact it probably sits on the shelf for years on end with nobody showing the slightest inclination to buy it, they probably think that justifies not getting any other football related stock in. Arsenal’s 2008/09 season review probably gives you a hint as to how long it’s been since last they gave a stuff.

My message to New Zealand retailers is this – if you want my money, lift your game considerably. Because bullying the government into imposing a tax that will cost more to collect at the border than it brings into the consolidated fund will not change my purchasing habits one jot. That image at the top of this post is an Amazon.com ‘fulfillment centre’. That’s what you are competing with. But hey, if you think making their customers pay GST will solve all your problems, knock yourself out.

Categories: Other Football Topics

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

3 replies

    1. Thanks! Yes, I love The Damned United. Timothy Spall has been my favorite actor for a couple of years now. There is meant to be a doco coming out soon called ‘I Believe in Miracles’ – about Clough at Nottingham Forest – that is very keenly anticipated so looking out for that.

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