Dear Mr. ####,
I received a response to your query from the responsible person in the UK. I do apologize for the delay in our response:
Thank you for your email.
As you’ll be aware, in the European Union customers are permitted to buy tobacco products in a certain Member State for personal use and to bring these back to their home State without having to pay additional excise duty on them.
Indicative volumes exist for this. For the UK , the volumes are set at 3,200 cigarettes or 3kg of fine cut tobacco.
HMRC has been checking tobacco products that are brought into the UK from other Member States for some time and has observed that more products than these indicative volumes are often purchased.
Furthermore, it has noted that these are then sold on in the UK , which of course is not permitted.
Imperial Tobacco is totally opposed to illicit trade and has therefore made an agreement with HMRC for a number of years to cooperate on ending these illegal imports.
Fines of up to £5 million can be imposed on manufacturers if their products are seized by HMRC as a result of allegedly over-supplying the legitimate trade overseas.
Demand for Golden Virginia in Belgium , which is popular among English tourists, has recently increased sharply. Imperial Tobacco Belgium has thus decided to freeze the volumes that are sold to wholesalers at the average level in previous months.
We realise that these measures create a significant inconvenience for the Belgian traders who sell these products and legitimate cross-border shoppers. However, our quotas are determined as objectively as possible.
In addition, you make reference in your email to our prices across EU markets.
For the most part, maximum prices are set locally by manufacturers in each market depending on the level of taxation and the overall market conditions.
################PressereferentReemtsma Cigarettenfabriken GmbH An Imperial Tobacco Group CompanyKommunikation und Politik Max-Born-Straße 4 22761 Hamburg
thank you for your reply although it would have been nice to know who exactly was replying to me. My question about pricing in EU States was to find what your products sell for in various EU states. l find it incomprehensible that you say that you don't know.
Would you please forward the following reply to Mr/Mrs/Ms lncognito
l would like to draw your attention to some points.
Indicative limits are suggested limits and not statutory limits.I'm sure you can google the word 'indicative' if you are not sure. Whether indicative limits exist or not has no bearing whatsoever on EU law. Shoppers are allowed to purchase as much as they like for personal use. This is their right as an EU citizen. Simply because amounts are over this indicative limit does certainly not mean that they are smuggled. HMRC hope that by limiting the amounts shoppers purchase makes it not feasible or a substantial inconvenience to shoppers to make multiple trips.
Have you at all considered that your market has increased in the EU is because myself and others like me are telling UK shoppers their rights to shop within the EU so more and more are now doing this? Would it also surprise you that the amounts purchased by shoppers are not in container loads but merely a maximum of a years supply that fits into a suitcase? We are not tourists, we are shoppers. The tourist trade is completely different to the shopping trade which is increasing. Why can't you grasp the concept of this?
You say HMRC has noted that tobacco has been sold in the UK which has been bought in the EU? This beggars the question why haven't HMRC arrested and prosecuted these people instead of simply noting it?
You also state :-" Imperial Tobacco is totally opposed to illicit trade and has therefore made an agreement with HMRC for a number of years to cooperate on ending these illegal imports" and "Fines of up to £5 million can be imposed on manufacturers if their products are seized by HMRC as a result of allegedly over-supplying the legitimate trade overseas"
Made an agreement and co-operated? Surely you mean that you were blackmailed and caved into their threats of ..... "a fine up to £5 million can be imposed on manufacturers if their products are seized as a result of allegedly over-supplying the legitimate trade overseas" (you mean EU? overseas has a different meaning entirely)
l've highlighted the important words and any lawyer will tell you the significance of these words or rather insignificance. You see, us shoppers face these threats constantly by HMRC when we bring our legitimate purchases back to the UK. Added to these threats are intimidation, harassment and pure theft but unlike you we stand our ground and say 'No!'
(You omitted in your reply to comment about what shoppers have to suffer in order to purchase tobacco for their own personal legitimate use at the hands of HMRC. Maybe you could ask them about their unethical and unjust tactics used against your customers?)
As for the illegal trade ... are you or your new friends, the HMRC, incapable or incompetent of tracing large shipments like container and lorry loads delivered to your distributors? lt should be relatively simple to do.You say on your own website that you constantly monitor your distributors????
Except that isn't it, is it? The real reason of HMRC is to stop ALL UK brands being sold in the EU in the hope that UK shoppers will then buy their tobacco in the UK. It simply won't happen.... period. All that will happen is that UK smokers will change their preferred brand to a foreign brand and still not pay UK taxes because the amount saved runs into thousands of pounds. ln these hard times anyone that smokes that doesn't do this is plain stupid in my opinion or is physically/financially incapable of shopping abroad..
This will eventually hit your own sales and to be honest l hope it does quickly ... you deserve it in the way you have treat and ignored your loyal customer base. Smokers in the UK will transfer their loyalty to other foreign brands because it is obvious that you don't give a damn about the loyalty afforded to you by your customers over the years. l'm sure your shareholders will understand when they see their returns fall and you have to account for it. Best of luck with that.
l must leave it at that as l have to try and get something out of my back ... the knife your company stabbed me with.