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UK travelers set to rebel against airport retailers' tax process

Retailers in British airports are facing a mini uprising at the tills with outraged customers refusing to show their boarding passes

Published: Updated:

Retailers in British airports are facing a mini uprising at the tills with outraged customers refusing to show their boarding passes after it was revealed that shops were making tax savings without passing on the benefit, British newspaper the Daily Telegraph has reported.

Anyone who has traveled to British airports and used the duty free shops will likely have been asked by the cashier to show their boarding pass. But this week the Telegraph revealed there was no requirement to show them and that shops were simply using the information to claim back VAT.

But now travelers have said they are going to refuse to provide the information – the Telegraph report added.

Retailers such as WHSmiths and Boots have said passengers traveling outside the EU are entitled to refuse to provide their travel documents when shopping in their stores.

The revelation comes after the newspaper surveyed more than 29,000 of its readers, revealing that 90 percent did not know they were not required to hand over travel documents to shops.

Ana Silva O’Reilly, a travel blogger at Mrs O Around the World, was cited as saying: “I personally felt I was providing too much information for no reason whatsoever.

“I find it very uncomfortable to be queuing for 10 minutes holding 5kgs of magazines and books and then when finally served (service has become quite awful at WHSmiths), having to find my boarding pass somewhere.

“Nowadays, with mobile boarding passes, I feel even more annoyed to have to hand over my phone. On a recent trip, I had finally had enough and asked the gentlemen manning the till why did he have to know where I was travelling when he was selling me a copy of Vanity Fair and Tatler. He said he needed it to be able to process the item as a sale and I simply refused to go ahead with the purchase.”

A WHSmith spokesman told the newspaper that the company did not retain the data when scanning boarding passes.

The spokesman added: “This information is limited to the IATA three digit destination airport codes, which form the basis of IATA’s worldwide airport database and does not give access to any personal data of WHSmith customers.”

Meanwhile the pharmacy chain, Boots have said it will not be changing its policy on asking for passengers to show their boarding passes.

A Boots spokesman said the company is “claiming back VAT on a proportion of purchases made by customers flying to non EU destinations in accordance with current VAT rules set by the HMRC.”