One of the consistently low-priced camera sellers on Amazon is a parallel import business called BuyMobile Australia, and it appears the average selling price on the Amazon.AU store is being driven down to match these kinds of grey market alternatives, leaving locally-supplied retailers with a fresh challenge.
BuyMobile Australia is a business name of Amaysim Operations, which in turn is owned by ASX-listed Amaysim Australia (AYS), and shares the same address as its parent. BuyMobile was registered by Amaysim Operations in June last year, previously being owned by Rapid Commerce.
As the name implies, BuyMobile Australia started out selling grey market mobile phones and now carries a range including computers, drones, binoculars, watches and cameras. ‘The majority of devices are sourced internationally as we get newer, better versions at more attractive prices for you,’ states the website – www.buymobile.com.au. It ships from Hong Kong.
With Amazon now adopting a far more price-competitive position with cameras from its own Amazon.au store (see separate story), BuyMobile and its ilk become more than el cheapo competitors with long delivery times shipping from Hong Kong. They are becoming Amazon.au’s pricing benchmark, which could be a real headache for local competitors in the Amazon marketplace and more broadly, other online retailers.
So how does BuyMobile do it? Is it simply a better buy of grey stock out of Hong Kong or mainland China, or does it also involve not paying GST? If so, it follows the Kogan/Dick Smith strategy of selling grey market cameras direct to Australians. Except Kogan at least has the fig leaf cover of Kogan HK, the ‘overseas’ seller.
According to Amazon, all prices on Amazon include GST:
Your order may contain items from a third-party seller on Amazon.com.au Marketplace. While these sellers may have different GST obligations, their prices are displayed inclusive of applicable GST (if any) for Australian orders.
That ‘if any’ could be a bit tricky! Then there is this: IMPORTANT: The Amazon.com.au Order Summary is not a tax invoice. The Order Summary will not outline the GST charged by third-party sellers on Amazon.com.au Marketplace. Should you require a GST breakdown or tax invoice from a seller, please contact them directly.
So I tried to find out if there was a GST component to the BuyMobile invoice by seeking a GST-attracting $1000+ camera and going to the checkout, but it’s information withheld until you provide your credit card details. Reassurances that you still had an opportunity to ‘review’ your order weren’t sufficiently iron-clad to take that step.
Contacting BuyMobile via Amazon’s contact system was a much less expensive option:
Hi. Just wondering if the price for the Canon 80D with 18-55mm lens (ASIN: B01BUYJXMA) includes Australian GST? Or do I need to pay that in addition to the $1441.99 price as quoted?
The response was:
Hi there Keith,
Thank you for your interest.
The current price is inclusive of any GST/customs related fees.
– Pretty definitive. In the meantime, direct communications with the customer service person on the BuyMobile Australia website delivered more detailed information:
Hi. Does this price ($1075.95) for the Panasonic GH4 include GST? If not, do I need to pay GST in addition?
All prices include fees and charges to Australia bar shipping. We take care of applicable payments during transit.
I have an ABN as a business and would want to claim back the GST component. Does your invoice include a GST component that I can claim back?
Sorry No. Whilst we can supply an invoice the GST component would be zero. There are no additional customs or import charges for shipments to any parts of Australia as these are already factored into the product pricing.
Ok. Still a good price. As I understand it, goods over $1000 attract GST when they come from overseas. I would be liable to pay that or will it be delivered without that extra cost?
These are already factored into the product pricing. We take care of applicable payments during transit.
It will be delivered without extra cost to you.
That’s great…But I did notice you have the same camera for sale on Amazon.au for $1112 or something like that. Why the difference in price?
There are few factors that causing price difference, that’s including promotions we provide to each of the sites we have.
– So this, apparently, is the new retailing model introduced by BuyMobile – ship from overseas and charge GST. It would probably be defamatory and certainly contrary to the information supplied by BuyMobile to imply anything else is happening. Still – with an Australian ABN and an Australian Stock Exchange-listed parent, you would think BuyMobile would be sufficiently engaged with the Australian economy to be able to issue a tax invoice!
This may be all a bit academic with the elimination of the GST loophole for offshore sales, but then again, it could also be a sign of things to come: What hope does the ATO have of enforcing the new GST obligations of some 3000 overseas retailers when administration of the current law – GST to be paid on goods over $1000 – seems to be quite lax?
Amazon is quite hostile to the notion of collecting GST on behalf of its Amazon Marketplace clients – which the new legislation categorically requires it to do in its role as an Electronic Distribution Platform – and made this point in a submission to the Productivity Commission: The Legislated Model is virtually impossible to enforce because it depends on voluntary compliance from many thousands of offshore vendors and marketplaces that are difficult to identify and are not subject to Australian jurisdiction.
It further argues that its unfair to impose GST on some offshore vendors – its customers, for instance – when others are slipping through the net.
Ebay is even more hostile, arguing that it doesn’t even have a marketplace like Amazon, and nor does it warehouse goods or accept direct payments.
‘Regrettably, the government’s legislation may force eBay to prevent Australians from buying from foreign sellers,’ threatened Jooman Park, eBay’s vice president and managing director for Australia and New Zealand, in a submission to the Federal Government.
‘No tax would be paid to Australia and none would be owed. It would raise no revenue, deny Australians access to choice and lessen price competition. This solution would not even represent a win for bricks and mortar retailers, because Australians would still find ways to buy online.
‘They would do so direct via dotcoms without paying GST and they would lose the confidence they current enjoy buying from eBay with the advantage of its trusted seller ratings. This appears to be the most likely outcome at present.’
– It’s not beyond conjecture that we may see some kind of Mexican stand-off between the Australian Government and the likes of Amazon and Ebay come July 1.