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Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

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Long Island, NY
posts: 17
reviews: 231
Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

We'd been instructed to get our VAT refund at our last stop in the EU, which is the Netherlands. We knew that we had to have our official tax forms with receipts attached, passport, boarding pass, and merchandise for inspection. We spent 10 minutes walking to the customs station which was CLOSED, with a sign redirecting us to lounge 3, another 15 minute walk. At lounge 3 we had our forms stamped by customs. No problem. We proceded to the Global Blue counter where we received a refund of 13 euros. The balance of our refunds, about 40 euros, had to be made at a different counter, ANB-ANRO. There was one clerk on duty for the entire line. In the middle of his transaction with the person ahead of us, he decided to take a tea break! We could clearly see five other employees, all taking a tea break at the same time, no one helping the customers who had planes to catch. He finally returned to his station, dunking the tea bag, taking sips of tea. He call us, inspected our papers, and then asked for "the second copy" of the VAT forms from Germany. We told him that they only issue one form. We purchased many things in Germany and in every instance only one form was issued. There was nothing on the form saying that two were required. Mr. Tea Drinker said it was ABN-ANRO's "policy" to require two copies of the form, pushed our papers back at us and said he couldn't help us.

In an airport with millions of signs and diagrams, the VAT refund information was nowhere to be found. The information desks gave out the wrong information. The entire concept of having tourists run from one lounge with closed windows to another with customs to a third with bank tellers is telling me that this is not designed to refund your VAT - this is designed to NOT refund your VAT.

Based on my experience I advise that you either avoid making purchase decisions based on promised VAT refunds which do not materialize because some bureaucrat is missing a signature, a copy or a stamp - or to avoid trying to claim these refunds in the Netherlands.

29 replies to this topic
Fort Worth, Texas
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
posts: 12,105
1. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

they are in a union and tea breaks are in the contract.

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 475
2. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

Why use Global Blue?

You can do this when you return home, at your leisure and not pay their extortionate commission. Just have your papers stamped and catch your plane.

Zas

Edited: 6:45 pm, November 27, 2012
Amsterdam
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
posts: 1,727
reviews: 1
3. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

What Zasuna said.

Those maffioso companies are eating up at least 30% of your VAT refund.

Dubai
posts: 164
reviews: 1
4. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

So whats the best way to get the refund after getting home??

Amsterdam
posts: 860
5. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

Sorry, but we're in the middle of a budgetary crisis. We need every cent of your VAT to stay in the Netherlands. :-)

Canada
posts: 963
reviews: 56
6. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

Nydolly- it is not easy to get any VAT- I had problems in Ireland.

But at least the Euro nations try! I don't know of many Canadians that ever get sales taxes back from New York state!

Long Island, NY
posts: 17
reviews: 231
7. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

Well, that is so very true. But New York does not advertise VAT refund programs and actively encourage tourists to buy with the understanding that the item will actually cost them 20% or so less. We are planning a trip to Scandinavia in the near future and based on our past experiences we will be purchasing 20% less than on previous trips. If we happen to succeed in getting a refund, we will be pleasantly surprised. But we will not believe them or expect one.

Long Island, NY
posts: 17
reviews: 231
8. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

LOL MrOther. I guess it's best to have a sense of humor about it.

Winter Haven...
posts: 4,333
reviews: 1
9. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

The OP is absolutely correct. There is no real effort made to get you a refund on your VAT. Just like the duty free shops all over where there is no real savings.

Amsterdam, The...
Destination Expert
for Amsterdam
posts: 26,303
reviews: 74
10. Re: Waste of time trying to get VAT refund at Schiphol

Just curious, how much were you expecting to get back since you only got 53 euros?

Informative article about how Global Blue works. To be honest I had not thought about it like this.

smartertravel.com/travel-advice/…

It is not easy to find from their website just how much their handling fee actually is but it seems in general to work out around 40% of the amount of tax refunded.

Lots of people also think that they get 20% of the full purchase price back but this is not the case. The actual amount of VAT is approx 17% of the purchase price because 20% is the amount added to the initial price so vat on something costing 100 euros wholesale would then be 20 euros but you can’t then just get back 20% of 120 euros as that would be 24 euros . You would only get back the 20 eusros and then Global Blue appear to take 8 euros from that so you actually only end up with a refund of 12 euros. If they then convert it into another currency they take another 3%.

Seems like an awful lot of effort for very little return unless you are say buying a laptop but then things like that can be cheaper outside Europe in the first place.

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