Australians Will Be Blocked From Amazon US From July 1

It was the move we all dreaded was coming: Australian shoppers will no longer be able to shop on Amazon's US site as the company shifts focus to its local offering. You have one more month to make your final overseas purchases.

From July 1, shoppers visiting Amazon.com (and other overseas Amazon sites) will be redirected to Amazon.com.au, which launched late last year. This coincides with changes to the Online Goods Tax that require online retailers to apply the 10 per cent GST to all online purchases shipped to Australia from overseas. (Currently, the rule only applies to purchased items that exceed $1000.)

"While we regret any inconvenience this may cause customers, we have had to assess the workability of the legislation as a global business with multiple international sites," Amazon said in a statement.

We speculated this might happen back when Amazon Australia was about to launch. In addition to allowing Amazon's US arm to bypass complicated GST obligations, it also forces more customers to use the Australian service, therefore boosting its sales performance.

This is obviously a bit of a blow for Aussie shoppers - the US version of the site has a vastly larger selection of goods available, many of which were cheaper even after factoring in shipping costs.

There's been no word on whether this will affect Amazon's other online shopping sites such as the Book Depository. We've contacted the company and will report back as soon as we know more.

One thing's for sure, eBay Plus is starting to look more attractive by the minute.

The 'Online Goods' Tax Has Been Postponed Until 2018

We have some good news and bad news for online shoppers. First, the good news. A proposed GST amendment - which will see GST extended to all goods bought overseas - has been delayed for another year.

Now for the bad news. It will almost certainly come into effect on July 1 2018, and the similar 'Netflix tax' kicks in at the end of this month. Better start stocking up on those streaming subscriptions and overseas goodies while the going's good.

Read more

This story is developing.

[Via SMH]


Comments

    OK, just finished screaming with my head in the freezer. Now that I'm cooled off, a proper post.

    Like others who have shopped at Amazon for years, this is both disheartening and at the same time a real slap in the face.

    I myself got the email with the $20 voucher to use on the Australia Amazon store.

    I would actually give Amazon some credit for this move. But then I saw the prices for their videos games.

    I guess the lure of the Australia Tax (the one put on us, not the one Amazon has to pay to the current government) proved to be too good of a temptress as a lot of the motivations that sent Australian consumers to the overseas stores are all there.

    I don't know if Amazon has fully realised what they have done. But I can safely say this will impact the current consumer base they have now on the local Australian site and will most likely have to shut it down due to it being untenable due to poor consumer turn around.

    Unless they realise their mistake and have the local Amazon act more like the mail forwarding services where overseas items can be purchased but the transaction happens here and thus is taxed appropriately.

    When boiled down, there have always been two main attributes of this problem: price and availability.

    Even if availability remained low, Amazon still could have pulled customers in base on price. And sadly they have failed on that count too.

    And yes, I know there is a political angle here. But many, including myself, and discussed that angle to the point there is nothing new to add at this point (other than if this GST change doesn't guarantee Labor a landslide win in the next election nothing will).

    Instead I'm keeping my focus on Amazon.

    Yes, they had a lot of valid claims (chief among them being Amazon et. al. should not be the ones to collect the tax).

    However, this "bat and ball" tactic will only cause Amazon to loose customers to other competitors (including those willing to co-operate).

    Given that the Amazon UK site will also be blocked (unless the backlash somehow makes Amazon change its mind), needless to say I have put in what I think will be my final order.

    Speaking for myself, I don't feel the Amazon Australia Web site is an Amazon site. It carries the Amazon name, but not (among other things) the price and availability attributes that kept healthy commerce with those overseas sites.

    Watch this space as I'll be surprised if Amazon Australia doesn't fold within a year.

      I don't feel the Amazon Australia Web site is an Amazon site.

      Yep. I'm right with you. I buy a particular brand of motorcycle brake pads from Amazon.com that are not at all available in Australia. I'll definitely be looking for a way to work around this situation. Until then, I am highly unlikely to be buying from Amazon Aus... nor will I voting for our LNP mates that started this mess - not that I would ever have done that either.

      A final though (and I promise to leave well-enough alone after this).

      If Amazon is planning to ban shipping to Australia, are they also going to ban shipping from Australia?

      If no to the latter (question of market aside), then it only further makes the ban unfair.

    This is bonkers. I have no idea why they would wilfully block off customers to services that they provide. I already buy things from Amazon Australia, but I also buy a bunch from Amazon UK and Amazon US. There are simply things that you can't get on the other versions of Amazon, and in turn, anywhere else (without paying an arm and a leg).

    I'm curious to see whether a VPN will effect this issue, or whether it will be something that's decided at the checkout?

    The worst thing is that this is something that will be staying forever. Given the issues that UK folks have with import taxes - and how expensive items are when they receive them -, I can only imagine that this will be a major headache for Australians. I can't see Labor removing this at all when they next get in.

      The linked SMH article says that they'll block shipping to Australia from the US site, so a VPN alone isn't going to help for physical products. You'd also need to use one of those parcel forwarding companies that lets you provide a US shipping address.

    There's so much missing from the Australian Amazon site at the moment: it doesn't even let you maintain a wishlist like the US and UK sites do.

    If this change is paired up with them adding the missing features to the site, and maybe populating the store with items from the US with the GST and shipping added to the price, then fine. It'd help if they were a bit more clear about their plans, since it is looking a lot more like a massive reduction in product range.

      I think it is shaping up to be just "what's there is there" and "access denied" for the overseas stores.

      The Global Store they keep mentioning in their emails is nothing new and was introduced some years ago.

      It was basically a way of shipping without the annoyance of getting to the item page and seeing "Does not ship" or (as often happened to me), only learning the item won't ship when one reaches the payment page.

      So I'm not convince this is a new portal to still purchase goods in the US - it is just their bookmarks (for want of a better term) that better spell out if an item will ship internationally or not.

        We can always hope the mark up isn't quite as extreme as my most recent purchase... $50 AUD including shipping from the US site and $200 from the Australian site. Same seller.

      I emailed amazon today about the wishlist issue.
      It's actually one of my biggest concerns considering I have many books in my list.

    So when is the next election?

      Early next year, or just far enough away to create dramas over this that will take years to undo.

    The email I just got from Amazon about it seems to indicate that the Australian store will be part of Amazon Global, and that certain items only available in the US site will be available on the Australian site. Hopefully that includes amazon exclusive games stuff (eg state of decay 2 pre-order bonuses), and various books that are on Kindle US but not Australian store.

    Here's the relevent parts of the email:
    As a result of changes to Australian GST law, on 1 July 2018 Amazon’s international shopping options for Australian customers will change.

    While we regret any inconvenience this may cause, from 1 July we will be redirecting Australian customers from our international Amazon sites to amazon.com.au where you can shop for products sold by Amazon US on the new Amazon Global Store, available today. We have taken this step to provide our customers with continued access to international selection and allow us to remain compliant with the law which requires us to collect and remit GST on products sold on Amazon sites that are shipped from overseas.

    Amazon Global Store will allow Australian customers to shop on amazon.com.au for over four million items that were previously only accessible on amazon.com. This selection is in addition to the more than 60 million products that are already available on amazon.com.au across 23 categories, including books, fashion, toys, and electronics.

    I'm annoyed about this since I still have Gift Card credit left on the site as I often redeem gift cards on there to get books that would cost twice as much here. I know they are sending out a $20 voucher as an incentive, but I'd like my credit balance transferred (and converted from USD to AUD) as well. Instead I'm left with a voucher that'll probably expire in 3 months and have lost out my credit balance... All because the Australian Liberal Government are intent of isolating Australia from the rest of the world.

    This is a shame, and resurrects a whole lot of issues regarding online shopping in Australia.

    However, this is going to be a cinch to get around - there's no stopping Australia's savvy consumers.

    I think the Australian Government and outlets like Amazon will look back at this time in a couple of years and wonder what they were thinking, and what was the point of it all.

      However, this is going to be a cinch to get around - there's no stopping Australia's savvy consumers.

      A cinch to get to the website, sure. But they're going to be blocking postage to Australia, so you'd need to then pay for a mail forwarding service to send it to a US address, then send it out to Australia.

      Not as easy, more expensive and most people simply just won't bother with Amazon.

        Was going to say similar. This isn't some DNS block that takes 30 seconds to get around, this is an active effort on their part, in protest of the excessive administration being forced on them.

    Big Australian retailers = Win, because they get reduced competition.
    Amazon = Win, because they have a reason to force Australians onto their Aus store and not take full blame for it.
    Govt = Win they've patted their super-rich lobbyists on the back so they'll get whatever their end of the deal was (read: bribe).
    Australian consumer = Lose. F*cked again by the Govt, their wealthy mates (I mean lobbyists) and overseas suppliers who look at Australia and see dollar signs.

    In the wider business world Australian is known as Treasure Island as companies can slap a massive Australia tax on their goods and us poor suckers have no choice but to cough up if we want it. What's worse is our public servants are in on the act, and basically pimp us out to get shafted by business after business, be it retail, mining, entertainment, you name it they line up and the Govt cashes the cheques as we get done over. (edit: almost forgot the NBN!).
    Remeber this when you vote people. The Govt see us as nothing but whores that they can exploit for their own personal gain.

    Last edited 31/05/18 2:24 pm

    This is sooooo BS - there are so many things i get from amazon US and UK i just cant get elswhere and those parcel redirection services are a rip off.

    I wont be able to get overseas collectors editions of games anymore, and wont be able to get products from manufacturers that dont operate in Australia - this is total BS.

    Let's be honest the GST is am excuse, several countries have sales tax, even in the US some states have sales tax. Amazon and so many other retailers deal with it just fine. This is an excuse to push shoppers to there under performing Australian arm.

      I wouldn't call it an excuse. From my understanding, it's less of a problem that we are introducing a sales tax, it's how the government is requesting companies pay the sales tax, meaning that it's going to cost Amazon money and resources to comply with the government. Coupling that with how much Amazon US actually makes from Australia (I know a lot of people here buy from Amazon, but these message boards don't represent the country as a whole), it's not that surprising that paying the GST would get thrown into the "higher effort than reward" basket.

      But you are right. On top of all that, there's the elephant in the room that Amazon US would have to be cannibalizing Amazon AU's sales (Amazon Australia is always going to struggle to be both good value and profitable due to our low population density).

      Don't get me wrong, it sucks that we are the one's worse off with this, but that's the thing to remember about capitalism (I'm not a marxist, I promise), a company's purpose isn't to benefit the consumer, it's to make the most amount of money.

    Urgh, I can get around this with mail forwarding but all that is going to do is drive up the price for me on goods I can't buy in Australia. Awesome.

      What do u mean? Scott Morrissons office said this was a win for us! Now local shops have an even playing field!

      I nean now harvey norman can step in and sell all those stuff thats onlynavailable in us and that wouldnt be stocked/supplied in australia.... oh wait thats right the reason i buy from amazon is because ITS NOT AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA so explain to me how the heck "local shops" are supposed to take over?

    I do wonder how Amazon handles the UK's similar laws here:

    https://www.gov.uk/guidance/vat-what-to-do-if-youre-an-overseas-business-selling-goods-in-the-uk

    Do they block UK residents from purchasing from the French of German Amazon sites? Since the UK laws look like they'd require those sites to collect VAT on purchases similar to Australia's laws.

      I don't recall having any issues with Amazon UK.

      But truth be told I only ever shopped there a couple of times to get some of the old Cosgrove-Hall cartoons I could not find here.

      I literally just finished shopping there just now, making all the original Red Dwarf DVDs effectively my last ever Amazon order.

      Not to get to far off topic, the reason I've gone for that version of the DVDs and not the boxset is (as the boxset announces on the packaging), the newer boxsets have just the shows and none of the special features.

      Seriously, BBC. It's Red Dwarf. Even the blooper reel is just as important as the show itself. Or as it's aptly called - the Smeg Ups!

        I'm not talking about Australians purchasing from Amazon UK. The linked article is about European companies distance selling to UK residents, requiring the them to collect VAT if their revenue reaches a certain level.

        This would seem to require the amazon.fr and amazon.de websites to collect UK VAT when someone in England makes a purchase. It seems like an almost identical situation to Australia's new laws, so I'm wondering how Amazon solved it then.

        If they managed to do it without geoblocking UK residents from those other sites (and I don't know if they managed that), then why is it more difficult to do it this time?

          Sorry, I was thinking of VAT in general and completely mis-read your post.

          And that last post of mine is a clear sign I need to walk away from this as I'm becoming a man-obsessed with it.

      Amazon UK performs better than Amazon AU. They handle it fine so does every one else. This is just to push the AU storefront.

    I don't often watch ABC News (given how the balance it once had is long gone), but while flipping though the channels I saw News 24 was covering Amazon's plan block.

    And who did they interview? Gerry Harvey.

    Usually I have something comedic, but not this time. His behaviour can only be described as pityful.

    For the most part, he tried very hard (and very loudly) to say this measures are about getting Amazon to pay its fair share of tax and for 10 years Amazon has had a free ride. He even went as far to say the measure is 10 years too late.

    When the conversation turned to how local retail could be more competitive and how he could lower his own prices, his actions (to be polite) went very childish.

    Not only did he say online stores didn't compete because they didn't pay any tax here, he (to paraphrase) furiously explained that the measure has nothing to do with pricing, it is about taxes.

    He's been quiet for so long. I wish he stayed that way.

    Just not worth the effort. Nor my patronage.

      Gerry Harvey's performance on ABC News has pretty much sealed it for me - I'm never spending money in his stores again.

    I was so pissed off when I saw this news this morning.

    I cannot understand how the LNP thought this "overseas tax" was a good idea. A complete slap in the face to importers and a tone deaf move. Gerry Harvey will be jumping for joy though! As always people will find a way around it. So many people use VPNs these days anyway. Supposedly the govt did this for local business and yet they neglected to address the issue that is Aussies selling on Amazon both locally and overseas. What are those people going to do? Oh yeah, go to the competition (ebay). Basically there's so much wrong with this that I'm having trouble sorting it all in my head. Amazon doesn't even pay any Tax in the USA, did you know that?

    I'm getting very sick and tired of the Government sticking its hand into everything and thinking they have a right to steal from businesses.

    Think of like this: the concept of government is that us slaves are forced to tick a suggestion box so that criminal A or criminal B can organise a set of people who have a moral obligation tor rule us. WE then have the moral obligation to obey. If we don't, men with guns will break down ours doors, kidnap us and throw us in a cage, then determine how long we should spend in said cage. To pretend otherwise is intellectually and factually dishonest. This is just another law (obligation written on a piece of paper) written to enable the rulers to steal more of the slaves hard earned money. As if they don't already steal and waste enough of it!

    Once you strip away all the fancy euphemisms, this is what you have left. Tax in and of itself is just protection money we must pay to Criminal gang A or Criminal gang B to ensure we don't get kidnapped and caged.

    Ask yourself: should anyone have a higher claim over your life and property than you? I'm tired of the "government" and we need to come up with a better system of living. No I'm not a snarky Anarchist, I'm just sick of legalised theft. The government can make determinations as to what we can and can't do, yet THEY are almost always NEVER affected by their own orders. Screw them. I'm have enough.

    This measure costs more to collect the GST revenue than the GST revenue itself. All it is doing is flipping off consumers while giving a thumbs up to Gerry Harvey. This government is absolute trash.

    Na fk that, there's sh*t I need!

    I mean how else am I going to get my board game supplies??? How I ask!?

    Last edited 31/05/18 7:38 pm

    What worries me the most (besides getting blocked off from a lot of precision metalworking items that amazon us had, vices, chucks, endmills etc), is how many other small US companies are going to follow suit?
    Is it going to be worth the bother for a company in the US that only sells say endmills (like a drillbit, $20-50 items) to go through all it has to to send an item to Aus, or are they just going to take amazon's route? A lot of these items are almost impossible to find here, many of the suppliers have no meaningful websites in Aus and many require you to use a local rep as a middleman. Not very practical for a small timer/startup like me.
    As a final note, I agree completely with the above comments on Gerry Harvey, everytime you see him he's harping on about gst on imports, when in actuallity all you have to do to see why Harvey Norman isn't doing as well is walk across the road to a JBHifi. While they arn't always great, they are a sight better, and guess what? Still local.

    Ok, so let me get this straight. Let's say I use NordVPN to access Amazon US or UK and use some parcel delivery service. Will that be enough to bypass this system? Do you know the costs of that? Because the local variety is kind of lackluster, to say the least.

    I already had an experience with "does not deliver to Australia". I ordered a book from Amazon.us which could not be delivered to Australia. It was a "one only left in stock" and to check Amazon.au which I did. Yes, it was available, "one only left in stock", so ordered it from Amazon.au. To my surprise I then received a message that the book was going to be delivered from the United States and that it may take up to four weeks for delivery! Yay! Of course, it cost about AUD 20.00 more too than if I had ordered it from overseas, which would still have been cheaper despite postage costs. We are going back to the bad old days when the all knowing middleman, in this case Amazon.au, has to order from overseas for their Australian customers and we have to be grateful to pay more for this service. Australia is too small a market and I fear that some small overseas retailers may not send to Australia anymore, that is, we could be left with outdated stock that needs to be sold before ordering the latest available stock, especially some electronics. I think most stuff probably can be ordered through Amazon.au, which then orders it from overseas. We may see the day when we can admire the latest gadgets that are not available in Australia on overseas visitors. Welcome to 'Down Under'. Frustrating. Mobilize your families overseas.

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