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is Wiggle ripping us off?

Old 08-14-20, 10:47 AM
  #1  
pstock
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is Wiggle ripping us off?

I bought some gear from Wiggle recently and got curious about their pricing in different currencies for delivery to different countries/markets.

Wiggle shoppers based in the UK pay a 20% VAT (Value Added Tax) to the UK government. And that tax is included in the price posted on Wiggle's website.

So for a $120 item Wiggle keeps $100 and sends $20 to the government.

But anyone buying from outside of the UK or European Union do not have to pay that VAT.
Typically UK-based companies shipping to say the USA or Canada or elsewhere outside of the EU just reduce the price to $100. That's called Ex-VAT pricing.

It seems that Wiggle would want to do that, as it would make their pricing more competitive.

But when I drilled down on a number of items, switching payment currencies (GBP, $CAD, $USD) and delivery locations, I was surprised by what I found.

Not only does Wiggle NOT reduce their UK prices by the VAT amount and offer that to foreign buyers. They seem to actually INCREASE their export prices far above the net price UK shoppers pay, in one example (a complete bike sold into the USA) by 32%

Here are some examples I looked at. (I converted all currencies to USD for simple comparisons)
[NB. it's been noted that my price references are a bit out of date. I did this checking a few weeks ago. the items I referenced are currently ON Sale skewing the price differences. Let me swap in current items, not on promotion. though the UK prices are also on sale and so I expect the approx % price differences are the same.]

Vitus ZX1 Team Road Bike (Force eTap - 2020)

Delivered to the UK this bike is the equivalent of $4909 of which $818 is VAT (so Wiggle keeps $4091)
That same bike, delivered to the USA (and remember – shipping is extra - +$90 - so that’s not a factor) is $4699.
at first glance that looks cheaper. But remember – Wiggle doesn’t have to remit VAT. So they are keeping $608 more than they would if they'd sold that bike to someone in the UK. That’s a 15% premium.

Another example.
Le Col Women's HC Bib Shorts

UK Price including VAT: $245.50 (of which $41.5is VAT and so Wiggle keeps $204)
shipped to the USA those bibs are $259.
Wiggle keeps the difference $55, or 272%

When I asked about these pricing anomalies Wiggle Customer Service offered three excuses.
1. that different countries have different VAT rates (this though is irrelevant as Wiggle doesn’t collect VAT for other countries outside of Europe)
2. they have different costs of doing business (shipping, marketing...) in other countries (also irrelevant as I doubt Wiggle has any actual business costs outside of the UK. And a US buyer of that bike pays the shipping costs. )
3. Pricing competitively (which I guess means getting away with as high a price as possible based on a buyers local options)

Oddly, for most items being shipped to Canada, Wiggle’s posted prices are identical to their posted UK prices (and lower than their US prices). So, it doesn’t appear that for Canadian sales at least, Wiggle has carefully crafted their prices based on business costs or local market conditions or the duty and taxes we have to pay. They just keep the VAT amount for themselves.

I’m not sure what to do about this. But I thought I would share my research and solicit feedback.

If you feel that Wiggle is taking advantage of foreign buyers you could A) write the head of Wiggle to let him know and B) Boycott Wiggle (that would include Chain Reaction as they are owned by Wiggle) and seek out other suppliers who are more transparent in their pricing policies.

Peter

Last edited by pstock; 08-14-20 at 04:11 PM.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:05 AM
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I see lower prices for both those items when shipped to the U.S.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:20 AM
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prices might have shifted. my price checking was a few weeks ago. Let me double check
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Old 08-14-20, 11:21 AM
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The two pack GP 5000 25mm is $96.86 delivered to UK, $81.00 delivered to USA. $82.27 to Canada in US dollars.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:28 AM
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prices might have shifted. my price checking was a few weeks ago. Let me double check.

well, that particular item is currently on promotion 10% off. the original price, the price i saw $4699 is still showing. (but it is also 10% to the UK so UK vs USA pricing gap remains. Yes, at 10% off. UK ex-VAT price is $3682 or 4419 - VAT $737; USA sale price $4200 so $518 diff or 14% more )

Let's look at another one.
Vitus ZX1 Team Road Bike (Force eTap - 2020)

to the US: $4699
to the UK: $4909 (including 20% VAT or $818) so Wiggle keeps $4091
so they keep $608 more for that bike shipped to the US (and a US buyer pays $90 shipping so a total of $4789)

I've updated my original post (above) to include items that at the time of writing are full price.
and the price differences persist.

and I expect that if anyone checked pricing for any full priced item for UK vs USA delivery, these discrepancies would persist.

Last edited by pstock; 08-14-20 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:39 AM
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I'd call the Queen.
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Old 08-14-20, 11:46 AM
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When I ordered from them the took the tax off at checkout not in the basket
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Old 08-14-20, 12:30 PM
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I don't think dismissing their reasons for the pricing out of hand is appropriate. Maintaining a web store that can deal with mulitiple tax laws, currencies, etc. is likely more costly than only doing domestic sales. I don't know about the UK but I would imagine there is some overhead in justifying your sales that don't involve collecting VAT. Possible audits, etc. They also have to pay to convert currencies and have to allow for fluctuating currency values.

Also what they charge for shipping a bike may not actually cover the total costs after considering packaging, duties, customs charges, etc.

At the end of the day, they have a pricing strategy that allows them to make money. Doesn't appear they are trying to hide anything. If you don't like it, pay in pounds and then you can pay your bank based on their conversion rate.. Or buy somewhere else or buy something that doesn't need to be imported.
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Old 08-14-20, 12:48 PM
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The same GP5000s are $49.57 each at BikeTiresDirect in USA. So over $100 for a pair. I'm OK with Wiggle's pricing, however they arrive at it.
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Old 08-14-20, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg View Post
Doesn't appear they are trying to hide anything. If you don't like it, pay in pounds and then you can pay your bank based on their conversion rate.. Or buy somewhere else or buy something that doesn't need to be imported.
As for them not hiding anything? I'd call it an error of omission. Their FAQ is pretty clear about some of the mechanics of ordering to the US or Canada:
https://www.wiggle.co.uk/h/option/international
and at first glance it looks pretty reassuring:
" When shopping for delivery to USA we will automatically:
- Remove British VAT at 20%"

but what they aren't saying is "first we'll jack up the UK price by 30% and THEN we'll deduct the 20% VAT"

and if Wiggle is going to tout "Free Delivery for orders over $X" then don't build a hidden delivery cost into the pricing. Price it out clearly and separately.

and finally, It's not actually the currency choice that drives the price differences. it's the country of delivery. I can choose to pay in GBP but still get charged a higher price for an item shipped out of the UK.
I believe that Wiggle and CRC is simply counting on their foreign customers not being very curious, counting on them blithely clicking on USD and United States, accepting whatever price is thrown at them, and not going back and seeing the real price differences.

Maybe I should just ask this: "How many people out here were aware that they were paying considerably more - 20-30% more - for a Wiggle item shipped to the USA or Canada than to the UK, even before taking shipping into consideration?"
I'll bet few to none.
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Old 08-14-20, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
I bought some gear from Wiggle recently and got curious about their pricing in different currencies for delivery to different countries/markets.

Wiggle shoppers based in the UK pay a 20% VAT (Value Added Tax) to the UK government. And that tax is included in the price posted on Wiggle's website.

So for a $120 item Wiggle keeps $100 and sends $20 to the government.

But anyone buying from outside of the UK or European Union do not have to pay that VAT.
Typically UK-based companies shipping to say the USA or Canada or elsewhere outside of the EU just reduce the price to $100. That's called Ex-VAT pricing.

It seems that Wiggle would want to do that, as it would make their pricing more competitive.

But when I drilled down on a number of items, switching payment currencies (GBP, $CAD, $USD) and delivery locations, I was surprised by what I found.

Not only does Wiggle NOT reduce their UK prices by the VAT amount and offer that to foreign buyers. They seem to actually INCREASE their export prices far above the net price UK shoppers pay, in one example (a complete bike sold into the USA) by 32%

Here are some examples I looked at. (I converted all currencies to USD for simple comparisons)
[NB. it's been noted that my price references are a bit out of date. I did this checking a few weeks ago. the items I referenced are currently ON Sale skewing the price differences. Let me swap in current items, not on promotion. though the UK prices are also on sale and so I expect the approx % price differences are the same.]

Vitus ZX1 Team Road Bike (Force eTap - 2020)

Delivered to the UK this bike is the equivalent of $4909 of which $818 is VAT (so Wiggle keeps $4091)
That same bike, delivered to the USA (and remember – shipping is extra - +$90 - so that’s not a factor) is $4699.
at first glance that looks cheaper. But remember – Wiggle doesn’t have to remit VAT. So they are keeping $608 more than they would if they'd sold that bike to someone in the UK. That’s a 15% premium.

Another example.
Le Col Women's HC Bib Shorts

UK Price including VAT: $245.50 (of which $41.5is VAT and so Wiggle keeps $204)
shipped to the USA those bibs are $259.
Wiggle keeps the difference $55, or 272%

When I asked about these pricing anomalies Wiggle Customer Service offered three excuses.
1. that different countries have different VAT rates (this though is irrelevant as Wiggle doesn’t collect VAT for other countries outside of Europe)
2. they have different costs of doing business (shipping, marketing...) in other countries (also irrelevant as I doubt Wiggle has any actual business costs outside of the UK. And a US buyer of that bike pays the shipping costs. )
3. Pricing competitively (which I guess means getting away with as high a price as possible based on a buyers local options)

Oddly, for most items being shipped to Canada, Wiggle’s posted prices are identical to their posted UK prices (and lower than their US prices). So, it doesn’t appear that for Canadian sales at least, Wiggle has carefully crafted their prices based on business costs or local market conditions or the duty and taxes we have to pay. They just keep the VAT amount for themselves.

I’m not sure what to do about this. But I thought I would share my research and solicit feedback.

If you feel that Wiggle is taking advantage of foreign buyers you could A) write the head of Wiggle to let him know and B) Boycott Wiggle (that would include Chain Reaction as they are owned by Wiggle) and seek out other suppliers who are more transparent in their pricing policies.

Peter
Do you see these numbers after you enter the shipping address? Ultimately you're not going to see VAT taken off until you commit to an outside-UK (outside-EU?) shipping address. Bear in mind also that, for anything over $800 (like, for example, the bike you cited), CRC adds the US Import Duty at checkout, which will add significantly to the final price. I've never bought anything that expensive from them, so I don't know how this is itemized in the invoice.

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Old 08-14-20, 01:13 PM
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I only took the $4700 bike purchase as far as the Checkout stage. which showing Zero in the tax slot. But it appeared that that was the full amount I would have been charged.

but Based on my actual recent (much smaller ticket - $124 ) order there did not appear to be an additional deduction of VAT at any point in the checkout process.

and their FAQS state:
- Display prices in Canadian Dollars. The total displayed in your basket will be the price you pay as we will charge you in your local currency.

So I am pretty confident that the price shown at Checkout is the price one would pay. And that was the price I used in my examples.

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Old 08-14-20, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Litespud View Post
Do you see these numbers after you enter the shipping address? Ultimately you're not going to see VAT taken off until you commit to an outside-UK (outside-EU?) shipping address
I don't think the OP is interested in the finer details -- he seems to be on some sort of crusade.
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Old 08-14-20, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
Maybe I should just ask this: "How many people out here were aware that they were paying considerably more - 20-30% more - for a Wiggle item shipped to the USA or Canada than to the UK, even before taking shipping into consideration?"
I'll bet few to none.
You are focusing on the trees and missing the forest. For my example of two tires, I'm still paying $15 less than a UK customer and $20 less than if I bought them from a USA source. Wiggle is not abusing me in any rational sense. Take a step back....
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Old 08-14-20, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
he seems to be on some sort of crusade.
if you call asking Wiggle for fair and transparent pricing a "crusade", then Yes, I am absolutely on a crusade.
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Old 08-14-20, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
if you call asking Wiggle for fair and transparent pricing a "crusade", then Yes, I am absolutely on a crusade.
Every item I've clicked on has appropriate pricing, including the two items you cited in your original post. You seem to be going out of your way to find pricing anomalies on their website. Maybe it's just not the right place for you to shop?
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Old 08-14-20, 01:55 PM
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and if Wiggle is going to tout "Free Delivery for orders over $X" then don't build a hidden delivery cost into the pricing. Price it out clearly and separately.

Every single company that offers free delivery is pricing it into the product. They do it because consumers have become accustom to free shipping even if they know they are paying for it indirectly. There are likely still places that charge for shipping but the big retailers are all jumping on that bandwagon because they would lose too much if they don't. Paying for shipping is just a non-starter for many consumers.

At the end of the day, every company adds overhead costs and profit into their pricing based on many different factors. You can find something to complain about with any one of them. You wanna punish them, go buy from someone else. In today's world of retail shopping, you're not going to find someplace that prices things by direct cost times x% markup.
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Old 08-14-20, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg View Post
and if Wiggle is going to tout "Free Delivery for orders over $X" then don't build a hidden delivery cost into the pricing. Price it out clearly and separately.

Every single company that offers free delivery is pricing it into the product. They do it because consumers have become accustom to free shipping even if they know they are paying for it indirectly. There are likely still places that charge for shipping but the big retailers are all jumping on that bandwagon because they would lose too much if they don't. Paying for shipping is just a non-starter for many consumers.

At the end of the day, every company adds overhead costs and profit into their pricing based on many different factors. You can find something to complain about with any one of them. You wanna punish them, go buy from someone else. In today's world of retail shopping, you're not going to find someplace that prices things by direct cost times x% markup.
Right, in the end it's just money. Money for tax, money for shipping, money for product. Focus on the bottom line not any particular fee or cost. Whether you getting a good deal or not is really all that matters.
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Old 08-14-20, 02:19 PM
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If you bought in person & were leaving the UK, Going say to Norway. get a customs stamp at the departure point,

and get the VAT Refunded when you mail back the paperwork..

IDK,. With Brexit perhaps the point of departure may be between the 2 parts of Ireland..
more likely true if you cross the English Channel ..
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Old 08-14-20, 02:38 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
Every item I've clicked on has appropriate pricing, including the two items you cited in your original post. You seem to be going out of your way to find pricing anomalies on their website. Maybe it's just not the right place for you to shop?
I chose my examples completely at random.
i am pretty sure that ALL their pricing follows the same pattern.

show me a couple of items that you think do not have a UK-USA price gap and then let's check your math.
But I expect that you are looking at the listed price (incl. VAT) that a UK based buyer pays, not the Net of VAT price (83% of posted price) that Wiggle pockets.

if everyone actually doesn't think that WIggle-CRC is laughing their assess off that the international cycling market doesn't realize or care or think that they are being gouged, then I stand absolutely corrected and stand down.

But If I was in the UK and went to buy a pair of shoes and the salesperson said "Oh, you have an accent. that labelled price is only intended for UK residents. I happen to know that these particular shoes are not available in the USA and so you can't get them at home. So you don't mind do you if we add 50% to that sticker price do you? " I would be pretty annoyed.

I'll leave with this thought. If someone in the UK wants to make a buck they might consider setting up a Wiggle Forward service. Whereby international buyers can have their Wiggle purchases shipped to a UK address (and so get the lower UK prices) where the Forwarder would mail it on at the cheapest possible rate (there must be clever international discount shipping services in the UK as there are in Canada and I am sure the US,) submit the VAT refund request on behalf of the buyer and take a cut.
I don't know but 50% of the $608 UK-US price difference on a bike would be more than a bike shop would make in margin selling the whole bike.

Last edited by pstock; 08-14-20 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 08-14-20, 02:50 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
if everyone actually doesn't think that WIggle-CRC is laughing their assess off that the international cycling market doesn't realize or care or think that they are being gouged, then I stand absolutely corrected and stand down.
Except no one actually said they don't care, so you're making a strawman argument here. You're also asserting everyone is being price-gouged, and there have been plenty of examples to the contrary cited that you seem to be ignoring.

Originally Posted by pstock View Post
But If I was in the UK and went to buy a pair of shoes and the salesperson said "Oh, you have an accent. that labelled price is only intended for UK residents. I happen to know that these particular shoes are not available in the USA and so you can't get them at home. So you don't mind do you if we add 50% to that sticker price do you? " I would be pretty annoyed.
...and that didn't happen either, other than the "I would be pretty annoyed." part apparently.

This does seem like a crusade... the Don Quixote kind.
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Old 08-14-20, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
if you call asking Wiggle for fair and transparent pricing a "crusade", then Yes, I am absolutely on a crusade.
How about their energy conservation program? Are their energy bills too high? Have you checked that they're getting the best value on their insurance? How about their salary scale? Did you check that it's competitive with other similar businesses without exploiting workers?

If you're going to pick apart one part of their pricing formula how can you not look at everything. Or else you can just compare their prices, see if you think it provides good value for the money and choose to buy there or shop elsewhere.
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Old 08-14-20, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by pstock View Post
show me a couple of items that you think do not have a UK-USA price gap and then let's check your math.
First thing I checked: Campy Super Record EPS 12 group $3,981 UK / $3,330 USA

Again, maybe it's just not the store for you. Everyone else seems happy with it.
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Old 08-14-20, 03:10 PM
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You might also want to read the shipping details on the website:
  • USA Bike orders: All Customs duties due on bike purchases for US customers will be paid by Wiggle. Please place orders for bikes separately from other goods.
Do you know what the import duty on that Vitus bike is?
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Old 08-14-20, 03:20 PM
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shelbyfv 
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This is a good example of how someone can become so invested in an erroneous theory that incompatible, though factual, info is no longer absorbed. Seems like an epidemic even beyond the bike world!
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