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VAT Refund Companies in Europe - Beware!

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
One of the nice things about shopping in Europe is you get VAT refunds - if you spend a couple of hundred bucks you get a refund slip which entitles you to 10% back when you leave the EU provided you get it stamped at customs.

I've done this a few times - but beware that these third party VAT refund companies are very unreliable in giving you your refunds. The first time I stood in line for 2 hours at the airport and they gave me a credit card refund on the spot.

The second time I was in a hurry, I barely had time to get my forms stamped, let alone the 2 hours in the credit card refund line - but I figured "I'll mail it when I get home" - out of $300 in refunds, I think I might have received $20 back - the rest never showed up, but I was dumb and didn't keep photocopies of the forms I sent in.

Last September I was there again - this time I had $300 in refunds owing to me - I didn't have time to stand in line for the credit card refund, but I was smart enough to make photocopies of the receipts. 7 months later - half the VAT slips have still never come back to me (about $200.) Trying to reach someone to figure out what is going on is like trying to reach those mail-in rebate companies that used to offer cheap deals on electronics back in the day.

Word of advice to anyone planning on getting VAT refunds
1) If you can budget enough time - try and get a credit card or cash refund at the airport - it's the most surefire way to get your money back - but you may need a few hours at an airport like Heathrow.
2) If you can only get your forms stamped - make copies of the forms - these companies will look for any reason to disallow your claim and they will never even send you a message to tell you. The less they pay the more they make.
post #2 of 3
Wait.

There are seriously things in airports that you have to wait a few hours for?

How damn early do you have to be if you need to check some bags, clear security, be there 30 minutes prior to takeoff for boarding, and somehow still wait a few hours for a VAT refund?
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by otc View Post

Wait.

There are seriously things in airports that you have to wait a few hours for?

How damn early do you have to be if you need to check some bags, clear security, be there 30 minutes prior to takeoff for boarding, and somehow still wait a few hours for a VAT refund?

Bloody early - one time I walked right up to the counter - no line-up, one time I walked up to the same counter - there was like 100 people in front of me. One Arab family of 5 had a bunch of porters pushing a giant cart of what must have been 20 matching suitcases - I don't think they were flying coach like me.
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