Monday, 18 August 2014

'Which' Tobacco Leaf Companies?

We've been promising to do this for some time now but finally we have got round to it. We found a number of 'companies' selling tobacco whole leaf. Of all the companies we looked at, only one is listed as a Limited Company, VAT Registered and a registered Tobacco Broker with HMRC. That is TL4U (Tobacco Leaf 4 U). Given that invariably you have to be VAT registered to purchase direct from source within the EU then none VAT registered companies would have to purchase from Tobacco Brokers such as TL4U or similar.That would explain why TL4U are selling retail Tobacco Leaf cheaper than the rest.

Another reason is TL4U dont sell USA/Canadian leaf like the other companies do. You can purchase from USA/Canada without a VAT number but you have to pay import duties on it because it is outside the EU. Couple that with shipment costs and you then understand why the USA/Canadian etc leaf is so expensive when compared to EU leaf.

Difference in the quality of leaf from EU and USA/Canada etc? Well, we've seen tonnes and tonnes of leaf all packaged in C48 boxes in EU Leaf Distributors all earmarked for such as  ... Imperial Tobacco. l think that answers the question. ln the end it's just down to personal choice.

Some UK leaf suppliers we looked at were clearly a rip-off and subsequently disappeared very quickly. Don't be fooled by offers too good to be true because invariably they are too good to be true! You'll end up out of pocket for sure.

So, let's have a look at some of the companies that are trading and continue to do so.

1. Whole Leaf

Owned by Paul Redmond and in Bolton, Lancs. Paul has good reputation and it's well deserved. He sells EU/USA/CAN leaf along with shredders and flavourings. Recently added WorldPay payment gateway so can accept card payment. Payment gateways are difficult to get because tobacco leaf is discriminated against by most gateway providers so kudos to Paul for getting it.

Paul sells his leaf in llb amounts which works out as 453g whereas some others sell in Metric of 500g. It's worth noting this when purchasing leaf. Look at amounts they sell the leaf in.

Average purchase price incl p&p £24.98 for 454g (1 lb)   = £2.77 per 50g

2. Buy Tobacco Leaf

An odd one this.They only sell in bulk but what worries us about Buy Tobacco Leaf is that they want all your personal details incl a copy of your passport or driving licence AND a utility bill BEFORE they will accept any orders from you.. Take a look. We really don't like this at all ... so we'll leave it at that.

3. PureLeaf

Pureleaf have had their trials and tribulations ... we wrote about them here.  What the outcome was we have not learned. PureLeaf site was down for quite a while and then they came back but with a much reduced USA/CAN stock and frequently out of stock. They don't sell EU leaf. The site used to sell shredders etc but they seem to have been removed. What has also been recently removed is PureLeaf having a go at other Leaf suppliers and saying that their leaf is poor quality. That in our view was uncalled for.

Saying that, the owner Joe Tunnicliffe of Bournemouth, did have a good reputation with his customers.

Average purchase price incl p&p £24.98 for 450g (1 lb)   = £2.77 per 50g

UPDATED ... Thanks to Blocked Dwarf we see that Joe at PureLeaf is still slagging off the competition.We are not impressed at such tactics when we know for certain such claims are patently untrue.

4. Whole Leaf Tobacco Only

Belfast Company that's been around for quite some time. Doesn't sell EU leaf  and sticks to USA/CAN etc. Sells a big range including accessories. We are reliably informed that prices have been steadily rising but recently they have changed from selling in llbs to 500g instead so that's a positive. They are still the most expensive though.

Average purchase price incl p&p £30.49 for 500g   = £3.05 per 50g

5. TL4U Ltd (Tobacco Leaf 4 U)

Came to prominence in the last year. Only sell quality EU leaf and at really good prices. Reliably informed that their service and customer service are excellent.They are registered Tobacco Brokers with HMRC and a VAT registered Limited Company from Hull/Sheffield. They are to increase their selection of leaf when the new crops are released in late Sept/Oct 2014. That has to be good news.We also like the idea that postage & packing is at a flat rate of only 4.95 regardless of the quantity ordered.

Average purchase price incl p&p £19.95 for 500g   = £1.90 per 50g

6. Miss Virginia Burley

A lady no less! Relatively new and filling a niche market. Concentrates on smaller 250g sales for those with tight budgets. Her current leaf is excellent Burley Butted (15cm of stalk removed) and Virginia Strips (no stalks at all!). We think she should change the currency she trades in though ... from Euro to Sterling.

Approx average purchase price incl free p&p £11.99 for 250g   = £2.39 per 50g

7. Fred the Shred

Fred doesn't sell leaf but what he does sell is shredders ... and he takes it seriously. You won't find better service and dedication anywhere. What we really like is his humour ... we think of him as Professor A.A. Dinwiddie, DM (7th), D.Thau., B.Occ., M.Coll aka the Bursar from the Unseen University (Pratchett's Discworld). Hope the dried frog pills are still working mate. :)


We haven't covered all the leaf suppliers so if you can recommend any OR tell us of ones you think should be avoided, then drop us a line or put it in the comments and we'll add them to the list.

Take care y'all :)

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Buying Tobacco Leaf ... Should You Be Worried?

Well, in a word ... NO!

Why should you be worried? Buying wholeleaf is 100% legal and there  is no duty or vat on it. What you do with it is up to you ... whether that be 1 kg of it or 10kg or virtually any amount when it comes to it.

You could sell it on ... again prefectly legal to do so. You could give it away, you could turn it into snuff or e-cig oil, you could turn it into pot-pourri, you could make perfume out of it .... the list goes on and on. None of this is the concern of HMRC.

Why is this? Well, despite all the rumours and myths there is NO HMRC laws and regs pertaining to the selling and purchasing wholeleaf tobacco. Got that? ...NONE!

Should they turn up (pigs might fly) on your doorstep asking questions about any purchases you've made .... simply ignore them . l wouldn't even open the door to them. They need a warrant to enter your premises and believe me they almost certainly won't have one! They rely on you consenting by saying such things as 'We need to ....' or 'Wed like to ...' blah blah blah. Their needs and likes are NONE of your concern..

Now should you process any of this wholeleaf into smoking tobacco then you are liable for Duty on this. lt is then up to you to inform HMRC that you owe them Duty. The thing is there seems to be no policy on when or how to do this. lf you make just 50g of smoking tobacco should you do it then? Maybe you only made half a dozen cigarettes ... should you do it then? Of course, commonsense tells you they haven't the manpower to check up on anyone buying wholeleaf and apart from that it just isn't practical or more to the point ... affordable.

As it stands, it;'s all academic anyway. We've been trying to talk to them for over 6 months on the issue of wholeleaf and they just will not respond! You can no longer just walk into one of their Customer Service Centres because they closed them all down! They've retired behind behind a wall of beaurocracy .... no direct e-mail addreses, no direct phone numbers ... just a helpline where the people manning them know bloody nothing! Sounds like Border Force doesn't it? ... well, it is just like that!

Wholeleaf Companies

We are going to do a report, survey on Wholeleaf Companies for you. There's some good ones and some that are not so good. There is one that wants your bank details, passport/driving licence, utility bills etc .... l kid you not! Anyone that deals with these needs their head testing in our opinion.

There is a company that is about to start trading from the EU. They say they will be doing smaller wholesale amounts than the usual 1000kg requirements. Some are a lower amount of 200kg but this still way too much for the home buyer. They've said they'll do 10-20kg upwards so it'll be interesting to see what they come up with.

ln the meantime we thoroughly recommend TL4U for your wholeleaf requirements and Rauchermann for your shredders. We'll add to our recommended list as we get them and should you be a Wholeleaf Company reading this ... contact us with who you are and we'll add you ... at our discretion of course! :)

Saturday, 22 March 2014

N2D Social Club Minibus now 'retired' ... with full honours.

We've now retired the N2D minibus from the Hull/Zeebrugge trips. We bought her in the summer of 2011 and then fitted her out with all the mod cons ... pride of which is the sound system . Then we added her 'colours' ... the smoking skulls (l'll add some pics later) along with various other rebel stickers such as the very large 'No Fear' stickers across the back doors. We announced to the then UKBA that we were going to do the baccy/alcohol runs from Hull to Zeebrugge. We even put up photos of our minibus on N2D website. This all was a direct challenge to UKBA (Border Force).

We've done 3 x 6 month 2 for 1 seasons along with a Eurotunnel trip. How many trips there have been in total is something l'd have to look up but needles to say ... there have been many. Our final trip ended today. Our passengers in all our trips have disregarded the guidelines with very few exceptions. The N2D minibus record is as follows :-

She has never been stopped and searched despite Border Force (UKBA) knowing her identity and for what purpose she was making the trips! Even today whilst waiting in line for passport control, the officers walking down the line looking in peoples vehicles avoided N2D minibus!

Further to this, not one of N2D's minibus many many passengers have had anything seized (passengers must disembark as foot passengers). Too be fair, we've abused the foot passenger ruling on numerous occassions too ...  with everbody disembarking with the minibus.

So, thanks to each and everyone of you who travelled with us at one time or another. You chose to stand up and counted and should be proud of yourselves. The N2D minibus was proud to have you but with that she is now retiring from active service ... with her honour intact!

We may see you ourselves on future trips but if we don't ... thanks, it's been fun!

lt was also fun when taking such as the Normandy Veterans, Submariners etc to many functions within the UK. We did this at cost to give something back to the ex-servicemen. l have to say that the Submariners are the craziest bunch l've ever come across ... and most of them are in their 70's and 80's.

There's also been trips top Rock Concerts, Rugby matches, shopping days etc etc for people of our community and it's always been at cost.

lt's been one hell of a ride ... laughter, music, drinking and yes, smoking have been the core of all the trips. You can smoke on our bus ... how's that for service? :) Alas, we have to move on :(

As l say, l'll put up some pics and if you see her on your travels ... touch your forelock to her ... she deserves it!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Smokers Happy Budget Day

Sounds strange doesn't it? ... 'Smokers Happy Budget Day' but for me it is. l've not bought any UK tobacco or cigarettes for over 20 years or so. All mine have been bought from the EU ... all duty paid but the UK Treasury gets sweet fa. l'm certainly not alone in doing this and despite the unethical tactics used by Border Force/UKBA/HMRC many thousands of people do exactly the same as me. That's many millions of pounds that the UK Treasury doesn't get it's  sweaty mitts on. What's more, people like me are invisible as smokers ... they've no way of counting us because they certainly can't use retail sales in the UK to get a figure. Most they can do is guess.

So yeah, let them put up the price of tobacco and cigarettes. Let them pontificate upon the effect this will have on smokers. Let them standardise the packaging, cover the packets with stupid images ... l couldn't care less! God knows how much money l've saved over the years by buying my smokes from the EU but it'll be a sizeable sum ... all money that l've spent on other pleasures in life.

We've taught many how to deal with Border Force in regards to briniging their own tobacco back into the UK. We even have a minibus that we take trips to purchase tobacco. Alas, that is to be no more ... we are now bringing that to close. There will be no more trips as we no longer have the time to do it. lt's been fun but that era has come to an end for us. The minibus is to be put up for sale along with it's ear deafening sound system and it's proud history. We'll miss her but l doubt Border Force will have the same sentiments :)

Oh, one more thing ... our alcohol come from the EU too. Happy Budget Day!

Thursday, 6 March 2014

1,000,000 Baby! ... Yeah!

Today our blog passed 1,000,000 pageviews. Remind me, what did Simon Clark once say about us? :)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Are You An Outlaw Yet?

When Nelson Mandela died, the high and mighty were not slow to try and grab hold of his coat tails in the hope it no doubt it would enhance their standing in the world. They fawned over his quotes and speeches but paid little heed to this one, did they?

One can understand why given it's they who have denied so many the right to live their life they want to. ln our case here in the UK it's been all 3 parties ... Labour, Lib Dems and Cons. lt's been never ending for years and still continues to this day ... and will be tomorrow, the day after that ... there's no end in sight. 

So, do you change the life you want to live or do you live it the way you want? 

We chose the latter ... what have you chosen?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

We're leaving ....

... very shortly for our annual Rock n Blues weekend. Preparation is everything and we do take it seriously ... as you can see below. The big boy is a 3 Litre ... nice!

What you see is mine and Zaphod's ... the  rest of the crew take their own. Before you ask ... of course the hip flasks are full ... why wouldn't they be? Wonder what the health fascists would make of this lot? Maybe they'd think it's for the year? They'd be wrong ... it's for Fri lunch to Mon morning :). When we party ... we party!

We'll be meeting up with old friends and other crews. We'll no doubt have more friends by the end of it ... we always do!

plus many many more!

ps. Trivia ... Zoot Money is Zaphod's uncle :)

p.s. lf we don't make it back ... don't say we died ... say we LIVED!