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Old 04-06-2012, 09:39 PM   #46
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Even if they charged sales tax, they would still be cheaper and still offer better policies.
Not necessarily. I purchased a Kindle Fire (for a gift) from Walmart for two reasons. One, it was cheaper. Two, in case I needed to return it, the return would've also been cheaper and less of a hassle.

My preference is to avoid Amazon whenever possible.

Last edited by tubemonkey; 04-06-2012 at 09:53 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:45 PM   #47
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The system is in an unstable state right now. Brick and mortar shops providing free showrooms for lower cost online stores can't work over the long run. Sure, consumers are taking advantage of the battle, but it's not going to be better for them when this shakes out. In the end, you're going to have to rely on word of mouth for making blind online purchases, because online reviews are even less trustworthy than online wikis. If Best Buy's floor experience sucks, it's because they've cheaped out as much as possible to compete with the online vendors. Tech-savvy sales reps and friendly, knowledgeable advice isn't going to help their bottom line, but just make it easier for those who want good advice before shopping at Amazon. God knows where this goes when rising fuel prices put a damper on low-cost shipping. Probably massive central shipping depots where you line up to pick up your orders. I can't really think of anything cheaper than that.
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Old 04-07-2012, 12:33 AM   #48
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As much as I hate paying more money, it really isn't fair that Amazon continues to be tax-free.
This is a persistent myth. If one's jurisdiction levies a sales tax, that tax is owed on anything one may purchase from Amazon. And if that Amazon falls under that jurisdiction's power, then Amazon is also required to withhold those taxes at the time of purchase.

People think just because a country or American state doesn't have any power over Amazon, residents of that country or state are not required to pay required sales taxes. That's not true. They are still required to pay the taxes.

If we don't want foreign countries or states forcing us to be their agents when we do business with their residents, we can hardly pressure Amazon to.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:42 AM   #49
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They're not tax-free everywhere. They collect sales tax in several states; including mine. All of my purchases from Amazon have been taxed.
I get charged a sales tax too by Amazon. Unless it is an excuse to pocket more money, seems to me they have accepted that they need to pay sales taxes to the states of their customers.
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Old 04-07-2012, 02:57 AM   #50
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I get charged a sales tax too by Amazon. Unless it is an excuse to pocket more money, seems to me they have accepted that they need to pay sales taxes to the states of their customers.
I don't get charged. It is a state by state thing...some states have pushed hard for it.
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:15 AM   #51
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I don't get charged. It is a state by state thing...some states have pushed hard for it.
Your state has a sales tax, but are not requiring Amazon to honor it? Is that what you are saying?
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:54 AM   #52
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Amazon doesn't ever pay the sales tax--the buyers do. Some states have jurisdiction over Amazon (either because of a physical presence there or by negotiation or court order) and are able to require Amazon to collect that tax from the buyers for them at the time of sale, rather than waiting for the buyers to pay it when they file their tax returns.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:19 AM   #53
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Your state has a sales tax, but are not requiring Amazon to honor it? Is that what you are saying?
Correct. Some states with no physical presence of whatever retailer have forced the issue with online sales and others haven't.
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:37 AM   #54
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The system is in an unstable state right now. Brick and mortar shops providing free showrooms for lower cost online stores can't work over the long run. Sure, consumers are taking advantage of the battle, but it's not going to be better for them when this shakes out. In the end, you're going to have to rely on word of mouth for making blind online purchases, because online reviews are even less trustworthy than online wikis. If Best Buy's floor experience sucks, it's because they've cheaped out as much as possible to compete with the online vendors. Tech-savvy sales reps and friendly, knowledgeable advice isn't going to help their bottom line, but just make it easier for those who want good advice before shopping at Amazon. God knows where this goes when rising fuel prices put a damper on low-cost shipping. Probably massive central shipping depots where you line up to pick up your orders. I can't really think of anything cheaper than that.
I wonder if the Apple Store model is an alternative. They do really well.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:06 PM   #55
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I wonder if the Apple Store model is an alternative. They do really well.
The Apple store sells a very small range of devices, all from one company; they can afford to stock the store with experts in those devices. They can have a functional sample of almost every device they sell on display.

A store selling wide-screen TVs from multiple manufacturers might not have space (or money!) to display one of everything, and has no access to training to explain fine nuances of differences between them.

Desktop copier/printer/scanners are another problem. They take up a lot of table space, need to connect to a computer, and often have multiple options--TWAIN vs ISIS drivers for scanning; different print drivers for PCL or PS; single- or double-sided copying; collated or not; ink cartridge prices & availability; ADF or flatbed only; and so on. Most customers won't know these options exist, but some will, or know about at least some of them, which means the sales staff needs to know which options are relevant to which devices.

Small devices are even worse... why are some 4gb USB drives $15, and some are $35? Or rather: how would a sales person learn & explain that difference to a customer?

Apple can absorb the cost of training sales staff into their overall business model; a third-party store doesn't get to push those costs back to the manufacturer.
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Old 04-07-2012, 03:12 PM   #56
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Your state has a sales tax, but are not requiring Amazon to honor it? Is that what you are saying?
Strictly speaking, states can't charge sales tax on out-of-state purchases; they can and do charge a *use tax* on the consumers, who are supposed to pay it when filing their income taxes. Once a company has a physical "presence" in the state, then the state can require them to collect an actual sales tax on its residents.

It is a subtle distinction but one big enough to drive through literally tons of merchandise. Entrenched powers in most states have tried to force out-of-state vendors to collect state taxes but it's pretty solidly established at the federal level that they can't. There has long been an effort to establish a nationwide sales tax on internet sales which would be uniform and relatively cheap to implement and Amazon has stated they would be happy to comply with that one.
If it ever gets passed.
Nobody is holding their breaths, though.
"National sales tax" is just a bit *less* popular than "Health care death panels".
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:14 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by cHex View Post
This is a persistent myth. If one's jurisdiction levies a sales tax, that tax is owed on anything one may purchase from Amazon. And if that Amazon falls under that jurisdiction's power, then Amazon is also required to withhold those taxes at the time of purchase.

People think just because a country or American state doesn't have any power over Amazon, residents of that country or state are not required to pay required sales taxes. That's not true. They are still required to pay the taxes.

If we don't want foreign countries or states forcing us to be their agents when we do business with their residents, we can hardly pressure Amazon to.
You are wrong. Currently, Companies like Amazon, wine Vineyards or more broadly, alcohol distributors, etc are required by law to collect sales taxes in any jurisdiction in which they physically operate. States where they have no physical presence have no jurisdiction over them and also have no jurisdiction over customers who choose to purchase from out-of-state vendors, whatever their business model.

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I get charged a sales tax too by Amazon. Unless it is an excuse to pocket more money, seems to me they have accepted that they need to pay sales taxes to the states of their customers.
There is nothing whatsoever to do with a company's preferences. It has everything to do with what they are legally required to do. If you live in a state where Amazon operates a business location (sales-oriented or not), you will have to pay tax for your purchase.

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Amazon doesn't ever pay the sales tax--the buyers do. Some states have jurisdiction over Amazon (either because of a physical presence there or by negotiation or court order) and are able to require Amazon to collect that tax from the buyers for them at the time of sale, rather than waiting for the buyers to pay it when they file their tax returns.
True about all businesses which are required by law to levy taxes at time of purchase. I have never heard about negotiation or court order applying, but that is probably just my knowledge base lacking. I'm just not sure how a court order would have legal power over how taxes get applied or levied.

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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
Strictly speaking, states can't charge sales tax on out-of-state purchases; they can and do charge a *use tax* on the consumers, who are supposed to pay it when filing their income taxes. Once a company has a physical "presence" in the state, then the state can require them to collect an actual sales tax on its residents.

It is a subtle distinction but one big enough to drive through literally tons of merchandise. Entrenched powers in most states have tried to force out-of-state vendors to collect state taxes but it's pretty solidly established at the federal level that they can't. There has long been an effort to establish a nationwide sales tax on internet sales which would be uniform and relatively cheap to implement and Amazon has stated they would be happy to comply with that one.
If it ever gets passed.
Nobody is holding their breaths, though.
"National sales tax" is just a bit *less* popular than "Health care death panels".
I'm curious to know how exactly a state would have either the knowledge of what the customer/state resident is using let alone the ability to estimate revenue based on a use tax applied to an internet (or out of state) vendor. Use taxes as far as I know are generally applied to things that are already being regulated in another way, eg something which gets licensed by the state could also accrue a use tax even if purchased out of state. something which does not get licensed (a book, a pair of pants, a widescreen tv) they would have purview over exactly how?

On another note, not related to any one person's post, when I lived in the NY/NJ/CT metropolitan area, NY City vendors were constantly peppering the airwaves with their low prices and the fact that out-of-state or even up-state folk who wanted to purchase their wares could benefit from a tourist trip by adding on savings of not having to pay any sales tax on their purchases from the trip. It was a BIG, repetitive major marketing endeavor which must have been successful because it was as ubiquitous as used car commercials. At a later time, iirc, the no-sales-tax became a promotional rather than full-time thing. Where the city would tax people most but not all of the time, having sales-tax vacations (my word) where for that weekend only, people from the greater area would want to come in to take advantage of the no tax.

Not sure how welcome/well-received those advertisements would have been from a non-NY state perspective, or viable even, if the reductions in bottom-of-the-bill purchase prices would have been if everyone were expected legally to go home and calculate the tax they would have paid and then send a separate check for the tax to their home state.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:18 PM   #58
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The system is in an unstable state right now. Brick and mortar shops providing free showrooms for lower cost online stores can't work over the long run. Sure, consumers are taking advantage of the battle, but it's not going to be better for them when this shakes out.
I don't believe that B&M shops like BB are really providing free showrooms for Amazon. I bought two HDTVs through Amazon, and for both of them I relied on reviews, both from enthusiast sites and from Amazon itself. These are a lot more reliable IMO than looking at a screen calibrated to look good in a showroom for 10 minutes.
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In the end, you're going to have to rely on word of mouth for making blind online purchases, because online reviews are even less trustworthy than online wikis.
Some online reviews are very reliable; I'm not sure why you think they aren't. Or that you can make up for a detailed review by asking the BB employee a question.
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If Best Buy's floor experience sucks, it's because they've cheaped out as much as possible to compete with the online vendors. Tech-savvy sales reps and friendly, knowledgeable advice isn't going to help their bottom line, but just make it easier for those who want good advice before shopping at Amazon.
No. BB's floor experience has always sucked. That's their whole business model and it always has been. Because BB succeeded by outcompeting specialty electronics dealers (who actually did have knowledgeable sales people on staff, although at the cost of a 40% upcharge). BB beat out specialty retailers through low prices, wide selection, and no knowledgeable customer service. BB is suffering because Amazon is doing the same thing that BB did, only better.

And probably the biggest advantage to Amazon is that you really can get what you want. One of the frustrations of going to a place like BB with the intention of purchasing a particular model that you read a great review of is that they don't have that particular model in stock. (Although they often, conveniently, have the next model up in stock.) Shopping online means you can get exactly what you want. Even if you live in the sticks.

And it also means that you can get an HDMI cable for $5 instead of $30.
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God knows where this goes when rising fuel prices put a damper on low-cost shipping. Probably massive central shipping depots where you line up to pick up your orders. I can't really think of anything cheaper than that.
I'm not sure that's any more efficient. In the end, the product has to come to your house, and it's probably more efficient for it to come via the UPS truck (which is delivering three other products to your street and 20 other products to your neighborhood) than for the 20 people in your neighborhood to all make separate trips to wherever they are going.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:32 PM   #59
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I don't believe that B&M shops like BB are really providing free showrooms for Amazon. I bought two HDTVs through Amazon, and for both of them I relied on reviews, both from enthusiast sites and from Amazon itself. These are a lot more reliable IMO than looking at a screen calibrated to look good in a showroom for 10 minutes.
I've seen many messages from people here on MR who test-drove readers at a physical store before buying online. I think this is especially true for technology they've never used before.

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Some online reviews are very reliable; I'm not sure why you think they aren't. Or that you can make up for a detailed review by asking the BB employee a question.

No. BB's floor experience has always sucked. That's their whole business model and it always has been. Because BB succeeded by outcompeting specialty electronics dealers (who actually did have knowledgeable sales people on staff, although at the cost of a 40% upcharge). BB beat out specialty retailers through low prices, wide selection, and no knowledgeable customer service. BB is suffering because Amazon is doing the same thing that BB did, only better.
I guess I wasn't being very clear, because what you said is what I was trying to say. I am in complete agreement with your assessment here.

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And probably the biggest advantage to Amazon is that you really can get what you want. One of the frustrations of going to a place like BB with the intention of purchasing a particular model that you read a great review of is that they don't have that particular model in stock. (Although they often, conveniently, have the next model up in stock.) Shopping online means you can get exactly what you want. Even if you live in the sticks.


And it also means that you can get an HDMI cable for $5 instead of $30.


I'm not sure that's any more efficient. In the end, the product has to come to your house, and it's probably more efficient for it to come via the UPS truck (which is delivering three other products to your street and 20 other products to your neighborhood) than for the 20 people in your neighborhood to all make separate trips to wherever they are going.
Yes, but that cost is offloaded to the consumer, who probably won't factor it into what they pay. Many people are just looking for an excuse to drive somewhere, and won't be bothered at all about going out to pick something up.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:47 PM   #60
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I don't believe that B&M shops like BB are really providing free showrooms for Amazon. I bought two HDTVs through Amazon, and for both of them I relied on reviews, both from enthusiast sites and from Amazon itself. These are a lot more reliable IMO than looking at a screen calibrated to look good in a showroom for 10 minutes.
This maybe specific to you, AH. I know that I am reluctant to purchase a large, expensive electronic device unless I go to see it in person. I think most customers are where I am now, although that may change over time .

On a related note, many independent booksellers complain about customers asking their staff for recommendations then announcing that they are going home to buy the books on their Kindle. I think the showroom effect is real, for electronics and for books-to the greater glory of Amazon.

I agree with you about the sucktitude of BB's customer service. When I go to a BB, I usually can never find a salesperson to answer my questions.
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Specialty Stores vs. Mega Stores anamardoll General Discussions 18 08-20-2011 01:24 AM
Touch Kobo Touch now available in Best Buy stores in Dallas/Fort Worth area jswinden Kobo Reader 8 08-11-2011 12:44 AM
Danish book stores to sell ebooks in physical stores Ea News 12 04-20-2011 10:44 AM
PRS 700 available to buy in Sony Stores Liviu_5 Sony Reader 17 04-01-2009 06:44 PM
Good stores (internet or otherwise) to buy PRS-700? thibaulthalpern Sony Reader 8 03-01-2009 02:48 AM


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