Money
Shopping
21 May 2021

Have You Experienced Problems With GST Declarations? We Approached Customs For Comment.

Since the GST de minimis dropped in October, the requirement for Islanders to access the GST declaration site www.customs.gst.gov.je has increased. Although the system itself does not provide a modern or user-friendly experience, when everything goes smoothly it’s a relatively quick process. However, many of you have experienced difficulty and are disappointed that you are unable to easily get help. You are particularly frustrated that the phone options on 01534 448000 lead to either an email or website, rather than a person. We raised this with Customs, highlighting that there are still many Islanders who do not own a computer or smartphone, yet are still able to order off-island goods by phone.    As expected, the number of parcels requiring GST declarations, approval and release has increased substantially. Customs are dealing with 14,000 consignments per day including both private and business parcels, which is understandably putting strain on the teams. Our worry is that if the Treasury Department continue with their proposal to remove the de minims completely this will only get worse. We suggested the possibility of setting up a helpdesk where Islanders can speak directly to a Customs officer, rather than having to go through the ream of telephone options. Whilst the current system is in place, an easily available online ‘How To’ guide or flowchart for the most common problems people encounter may also be of some help to Islanders. Customs have provided the following response: “We are indeed experiencing very high call and email enquiry volumes because of the reduced de-minimis, modified consumer buying behaviour due to the pandemic and of course BREXIT. We are actively working on ways to improve how we communicate with citizens by: Re-designing our phone tree allowing easier access to a call advisor Providing more detail to the importer so they are able to identify what they have bought when it arrives”. They politely remind importers of the importance of knowing the exact details of the items they have purchased i.e. who from and how much its cost. The spokesperson said, “The importer is obliged to complete the customs declaration, we simply cannot do that for them. If they are unable to do the declaration, then they should consider using a Customs Agent to do so on their behalf”. It is important to note that Jersey Customs and Immigration Services cannot act as an agent.   
Health
Shopping
30 March 2021

Results of Supermarket Covid Safety Survey

A couple of weeks ago, we carried out a short survey asking if you felt safe going to the Island’s supermarkets and the results are in. The answer is a resounding ‘YES’ (84.52%), with each supermarket listed proportionately providing the required Covid safety measures. It seems that shoppers themselves are causing the greatest concern with 65.87% of respondents answering ‘No’ to the question: Are other shoppers following social distancing guidelines? Almost 12% of shoppers do not use hand sanitiser upon entry, but other than those who are exempt, 100% are wearing a face mask, unless exempt. Thanks for taking the time to engage with the survey as we’re planning more on different subjects in the coming weeks and months.
Consumer Tips
Shopping
30 November 2020

Your Rights at Christmas

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year for some, but present buying isn’t always so calm and bright. Your aunt doesn’t like the scarf you bought her, the children’s new play-set came broken and you don’t know how long your gift card has before it expires. Knowing your consumer rights could protect you from many mishaps this holiday and may even give you some extra time to scoff mince pies.   Returning faulty goods As a consumer, The Supply of Goods and Services (Jersey) Law 2009 protects you if your goods are: Faulty or damaged Useless Not what was advertised or matching the description These terms apply whether your goods were bought new, in a sale or even second hand. Usually, you will be required to provide proof of purchase, such as a receipt, when returning these goods. If goods are faulty, within a reasonably short period of time after the sale took place, a consumer is entitled to a full refund or compensation. However, consumers could alternatively select a repair or replacement, which would then be at the company’s discretion to accept.   Returning unwanted goods When returning unwanted rather than faulty goods, consumers will usually have to follow the company’s internal returns policy. These ‘goodwill’ policies may offer either a refund, exchange or credit note. It’s worth noting that companies aren’t required by law to have a returns policy, so double check before you buy. Time limits may be imposed on these returns, such as 28 days, and may increase around the holidays.   Returning online goods When buying online goods, you have additional rights for returns. This is because of the ‘expectation versus reality’ phenomenon, where the image online may look nothing like the physical item you receive. Under the Consumer Contracts regulation, you have the right to cancel your order if you change your mind or if it’s not as advertised. You have 14 days to cancel your order, but companies do not expect you to then return the item within this timeframe. Some companies will do pre-paid returns, but some will require the customer to pay for their own postage. You should not be expected to pay for returning faulty or damaged goods.   Gift cards When purchasing gift cards, it is important that the company issuing them includes any important terms at the point of purchase. It’s good to read the fine print, as you will be held to any terms set out when purchasing. Expiry dates for gift cards can vary enormously. These can range from just a few months to even a year. When receiving a gift card, make sure to check the expiry date to ensure you use it in this timeframe. The gift-giver won’t get their money back if you don’t spend it!   For more information, go to the Trading Standards Consumer Rights page.  
Living Costs
Money
Shopping
01 October 2020

What is GST?

Goods and Services Tax (GST) is a tax on sales of goods and services in Jersey which came into effect in May 2008. It started at a rate of 3% and was increased to 5% in 1 June 2011 It is charged on most goods and services supplied in Jersey for local use, including imports.   GST is collected on goods bought online, or overseas, if they are valued at £135 or more (reduced from £240 and effective 1 October 2020). This figure is known as the De Minimis Level. For customs to release the goods, you must declare the value and pay any GST owed. You have three days from when the goods arrive in Jersey to pay the fees, with any delays meaning it will take longer for Customs to clear your items.   For goods bought in Jersey, GST will usually be automatically added to your invoice. Goods and services are taxed differently and placed into one of three categories which are standard rated, zero rated and exempt.   Standard rated These are goods and services that are taxed at a standard rate (5%) of their total value at the point of sale. Almost all goods and services provided in Jersey (including imports) attract GST at the standard rate. These includes goods you buy from a shop, food and drink from restaurants and bars, and services such as haircuts.   Zero rated These are taxed at 0% and include exports of goods, housing, medical prescriptions and international services.   Exempt  These items or services are not taxed for public policy reasons or because they may be difficult to tax accurately. Examples include financial services, insurance and postal services, among others.   You can find out more on the Government's  GST pages.
At Home
Shopping
14 May 2020

Have your shopping habits changed during lockdown?

Waitrose recently surveyed 2000 adults living in the UK about their shopping habits since lockdown started. The results indicate we’re baking more, wasting less food and enjoying the odd cocktail.  Have you noticed a lack of flour in stores? It’s probably due to the fact that 51% surveyed said they’ve been baking more whilst at home – banana bread seems to have been a favourite.  People are being more careful with their food items and appear to be eating differently. We’re planning meals better, and as many as 50% are using store cupboard ingredients rather than buying more, which is leading to less food wastage.  Doubtless, many of us can relate to the fact that over a third of those surveyed are snacking more – that fridge just keeps calling!  Being at home has inspired people, with 36% of those questioned now cooking meals from scratch. It seems we’re experimenting with different food and using more exotic flavours. Waitrose reported a spike in searches for Thai and Japanese dishes on their website, and good old comfort food recipe searches were up by 44%.  Alcohol sales have increased, particularly tequila which has seen sales climb by 175%. There’s also been an upturn in demand for rum, gin and liqueurs, suggesting we’re enjoying a few more cocktails than usual – maybe whilst socialising on those many evening Zoom quizzes. The overall result shows that although 25% of adults are drinking more, 21% are drinking less.  The Waitrose survey also indicated that the ‘weekly shop’ may becoming fashionable again, rather than the ‘top-up’ shop that many of us did prior to lockdown.   
Consumer Tips
Money
Shopping
12 October 2020

Christmas preparations and budget

Yup, we said it and there’s no denying that Christmas is on it’s way, so out come the Christmas emojis   To misquote that old song ‘It’s the most expensive time of the year’ and with Christmas just over 10 weeks away and shops starting to display their Christmas wares, now is a good time to start preparing, with particular focus on your budget. The financial strains caused by the pandemic are going to make 2020 celebrations tough for many Islanders.    People celebrate Christmas in different ways. Some like the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings served on a beautifully decorated table, and others prefer a more casual day. But, the one thing we all have in common is the financial burden it puts on our income. A recent study suggests the average cost of Christmas is around £500.    Many of you may have started your shopping already which is a great way to spread the cost and avoid the financial hit of paying for everything in December. To help you with your preparations and money management, we’ve created a Christmas budget planner which includes a breakdown of many Christmas items that you may need to buy and some tips on how to keep the cost down.   Bargain spotting is always fun and this year Amazon Prime members can take advantage of the annual ‘Amazon Prime Day’ which, due to COVID, has been delayed from July. It’s actually spread over two days and officially starts tomorrow (13 & 14 October), although deals are already available. This is great timing for anyone looking to bag an early Christmas bargain, be it a present, an extra chair or sofa bed for guests, or that new TV to watch the Christmas movies and sport on.   Gift vouchers are a popular and easy choice as presents. However, many retailers, both large and small, have struggled in recent years with some on the brink of collapse and others already fallen into administration. With this in mind, it’s important to note that a gift voucher will often not be honoured, if a company collapses.   Some of our other tips are:   Don’t forget your everyday bills still need paying.   Don’t rely on an overdraft or borrow from unauthorised lenders.    Remember to clear your credit card balance straight away.    Always buy from a reputable company and do your research.    Check and track prices using sites such as camelcamelcamel.com who monitor Amazon prices throughout the year.    Sign up to store newsletters and follow your favourite brands on social media to see their offers.   If you’re not an Amazon Prime member (usually £7.99 per month) take advantage of the 30 day free trials. If you time it right you can be a member during either Prime Day or Black Friday. Remember to diarise the cancellation date, so that your membership is cancelled before they automatically take the next month’s payment.    Annual Black Friday sales start in stores and online in late November.    If you’ve got a store account or membership which offers loyalty points, now’s the time to cash them in.    Posting Christmas cards and parcels will add to your costs. Consider sending e-cards and buying from stores (usually online) that offer free delivery directly to the present recipient (with strict instructions ‘Do Not Open until 25th December’)!    Take advantage of retailers, both in-store and online, offering a free gift wrapping service.    To help the environment and your budget, buy brown paper rather than expensive Christmas paper. You can make it personal by decorating it by hand.    Get the family involved and have fun making your own decorations. For example, start drying out collect fallen pine cones and slices of orange to hang on the tree.    If you have some of your budget left over, why not buy next year’s gifts in the January sales.    As mad as it sounds, January is the time to start saving for next Christmas (without adding pressure to you regular expenditure). If you put away just £5 a week, by the start of December you’ll have £240. Double that to £10 a week and you will have £480 towards next year’s cost.