View Full Version : Online shopping in Europe - hindered by lots of obsticles

04-06-11, 16:53
It's been a rough experience shopping online in Europe. I'm tempted to not spend any more time with online shopping, but I wonder if I'm missing something. Is online shopping as dysfunctional for others as it seems to be for me? These are the issues:

Merchants often do not ask for VAT number. At some point during the order, they should ask for a VAT number, and if you provide one as well as a foreign billing address, they should not charge VAT. I often struggle through multiple order form pages in a language I don't speak, only to find at the last step that the merchant is not really VAT-aware.
Order forms often cannot handle billing addresses that are outside of the shipping region. I can see why a shipping region is restricted, as they might only feel comfortable doing business in a subset of EU jurisdictions, but a limitation on billing address seems senseless. I suspect it's an oversight by the programmers not realizing that expats might be shopping locally, but using an overseas credit card.
Credit cards are only accepted by a fraction of shops, it seems. This puts consumers at substantial risk, having to trust that the shop will do everything right... ship on time, ship the right thing, and that it's not DOA. It also requires consumers to have a means for whatever obscure local payment form is being asked for (which may be somewhat standard for the country, but non-standard from the standpoint of a global web).
No transparency. EU web shops don't have a <s>visa</s> with a big strike-through to show credit card non-acceptance, thus prolonging the time it takes a foreigner to realize the site won't work for them. For VAT, shops must legally state whether prices reflect VAT, but they don't state whether they can remove VAT if it's a business purchase, or if they can add it if it's a personal purchase.
Not many meta-stores to sort out these dead-ends. There's not many meta-stores to begin with. I've found only one meta-store search engine that can filter on form of payment: toppreise.ch. But that site doesn't cover much of Europe.. mainly Switzerland and Germany, and cannot filter on VAT requirements. google.de/products mainly just finds german merchants, and is unaware of payment limitations and VAT.

It's very frustrating. All these problems could be solved with a good metastore. If I could query on a product, billing and shipping countries, vat needs, and payment method, and get back a list of stores that will work, that would make online shopping in Europe practical.

15-05-14, 11:42
Thanks for the information actually i have some experience of online shopping so your suggestion will be very help for to me. These payment methods are really frustrating sometimes, but it's for our safety.

25-06-14, 16:52
well, I am using paypal, why using expensive credit cards after all, they should integrate the European paying systems (like ideal in NL) more so that we don't rely on some weird payment system from the US.


17-04-17, 16:36
The infamous 22 euro rule if you shop for anything outside of the EU.