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US verses UK Prices - What's Going On?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Lord Henry, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. This seems to apply equally to pedals, amps, etc. but I'm looking to by a bass so I thought I would put this thread here.

    Reading around TB most of the prices are quoted in US$. The thing is that when I convert that into UK£ they tend not to match up with the prices that I see here in London. A couple of examples:

    Ibanez SR900TK
    US = $675.00, UK = £549.00 ($960.00)

    Fender Highway 1 Jazz Bass
    US = $699.99, UK = £599.00 ($1045.00)

    So what's going on? Am I looking in the wrong places or is gear really just more expensive here in the old world? If it is then would I be better off buying online in the US and having stuff shipped over?

    Advice from either side of the pond would be greatly welcomed.
  2. largo


    Nov 19, 2004
    I live in the UK.
    By the time you've added VAT & excise duty to a bass coming into the UK it increases the value by 20% or so.

    Your $675 bass is now $800'ish
    Your $700 bass is now $850'ish

    Then you add the rip-off Britain factor and things all work out about even !

  3. This is rip-off Britain mate; stuff is always more expensive here what with all the tax we pay on it. Example - Kustom Groovebass1200 in the US is around £300, here its more like £600.

    I think I will emigrate...
  4. Hi.
    I live in Canada. The prices are usually 20 to 30% cheaper in the States, so I have order a few times of e_bay stores new equipment. What usually ends up happening is buy the time I pay for shipping and duty it ends up costing the same if I would have bought it in Canada in the first place. It is usually the duty charge when the item goes through customes that kills you.However with that being said your discrepency is higher than the 20 to 30 % difference I experience so it just might be worth it to buy in the USA.
  5. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    This gets brought up frequently.

    For the Highway 1 jazz, it didn't take too long to find one going for £499 at www.gak.co.uk

    Shipping it over at $699.99 would work out more expensive...

    price $699.99
    shipping $100.00 (that's a low estimate)
    subtotal $799.99
    Converted at current exchange rate:
    £0.57284 £458.26
    3.9% duty £17.87
    subtotal £476.14
    17.5% VAT £83.32
    Total price £559.46

    There are other problems such as dealership contracts which prohibit US dealers selling overseas (not always enforced, not sure how strict Fender are on that). On top of that, you wind up voiding your warranty.
  6. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Also, since the dollar is crap compared to the Euro and Pound, when a US dealer gets a chance to sell overseas, he'll tack on a pence or 2. I've been told this by several dealers.
  7. If you've got your eye on buying a few things from the US, it's cheaper to book yourself on a flight to New York to go guitar shopping and make a weekend out of it than to actually order stuff from the US and get it shipped over! In my experience, you never have to declare your stuff at customs and pay VAT on it (not that I'm advocating breaking the law or anything, but, y'know, in my experience... :cool: ).

    Tip for this though - don't buy stuff actually in NYC - the sales tax in NY is pretty high, and most of the places on 48th St aren't exactly flexible on price - think Denmark St in London. Jump on a train from Penn Station down to New Jersey and go to somewhere there - the Guitar Center in East Brunswick is good (ask for Aaron, and say Russ sent you - he'll sort you out), as is the NJ Guitar & Bass Center in Metuchen (loads of great high-end stuff there, and Jay, the owner, is a nice guy, knowledgeable and always up for a deal if it's in cash. :D ).
  8. Oh, as an addendum... if it makes you feel better, in the UK we pay less for the likes of Warwick basses, Trace Elliot amps and Dr. Marten boots... :D
  9. If you are going to the US - buy the equipment on line and have it shipped to your hotel or wherever you are staying. That way, you might even save on the sales tax. If you are buying enough stuff, your savings could pay for the trip.
  10. Stox


    Mar 18, 2005
    London UK
    Virtually all US basses sold in their domestic market go from the factory direct to retail outlet. This is certainly the case with Fender and Musicman.
    In the UK we have a UK dealer/distributer who buys the product from the US factory, pays the shipping, has a premises, upholds the manufacturers guarantees and has to hold large stocks to supply the UK dealer/retail outlet. They add a margin as they have to make a profit (like any business). The retailer then adds a margin and VAT at 17.5% and you arrive at UK selling prices. Not rip off Britain, just sound commercial practice.

    I've come to the conclusion over the years that buying a bass sub $1200 US dollars and importing into the UK is a pointless exercise.
    Once you've paid shipping at $150, import tax at 3.9% and VAT at 17.5% the difference is negligable. You might as well buy the bass here, you can try it, hold it, make sure its OK and if its new you get a guarantee from the retailer.
  11. Sorry, I didn't realise this was a regular topic. And thanks for all the advice. A trip to the US would be a little beyond me at the moment, but worth bearing in mind for a couple of years time.

    Out of interest, has anyone tried buying in Europe? The Eurostar is about twenty minutes away from where I'm sitting right now, and import tax shouldn't be a problem. Does anyone know if that works out cheeper? I quite like weekends in Paris anyway.
  12. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    I've bought online from Thomann in Germany before, you might make a small saving...


    The differences between UK and european prices are likely in most cases to be less than the price of travel and subsistence.
  13. Stox


    Mar 18, 2005
    London UK
    Europe can work out slightly cheaper as the Euro is strong against the dollar but its really not a lot. The difference mainly being in the amount of domestic sales tax levied by the individual EC countries which is usually lower than the UK. However, in France it is 20.6%!

    There is no import tax as we are in the EC, as long you pay the sales tax in the European country..
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I bought a Double Bass cover from Thomann and it was a lot cheaper - but I think this is generally down to their vast warehouse buying rather than anything else - and I'm not sure a vast warehouse in industrial Germany, would make a good holiday destination!! ;)
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think the point is that everything is cheaper in the US than the UK - my sister has been over to NY to do her Christmas shopping and all the things she bought were about half the price they are in Britain.

    Combination of strong pound against dollar and the fact that they levy less tax .. ?

    On the last point - customs do random checks and while they generally are not interested in tourists - something as big as a bass might attract attention ...and do you want to risk getting a criminal record - I'd lose my job instantly and any savings I made, would never be worth that risk...?:meh:
  16. Why do you think we liberated ourselves from you guys back in the day? TAXES!:eyebrow:

    EDIT: I'll throw in a good ole YEE HAWW! for good measure... I know you guys like that stuff.;)
  17. westland


    Oct 8, 2004
    Hong Kong
    Taxes are one part of the added cost; but I think the bigger part just has to do with scale economies. There are certain overhead costs and administration that are the same whether your potential market is 100 or 100,000 -- customs, tax, shipping paperwork, stock tracking, etc. Places like UK, Oz, NZ lack scale, plus have the taxes. So a stocking retailer is going to raise the price because inventory will stay around longer, and is costlier per unit to obtain in the first place. You can't beat the US's scale and logistics.

    We face that with books in Hong Kong ... books are sold at British prices, which is about 2 to 3 times the US cost. Everyone here just orders from Amazon in the US. No one likes to shop at the local bookstores.

    I think China is going to get there within the decade; retailing is still a bit primitive, but scaling up fast. No other country though can match the US.
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    What we like is that healthcare is free - so if I break my leg in an accident, for example - I won't pay a penny no matter how long I stay in hospital and don't have to worry about my health insurance running out. :)
  19. Shiveringbass


    Aug 21, 2005
    Just to bring an other aspect to that interesting subject, it must be said that sometimes, distributer exagerates their marging, taking profit of the good old "Made in USA".

    I will just give an exemple that had killed me... realy, I couldn't beleive it.

    Euphonic Audio are distributed in Europe since last year by a famous luthier that, by respect, I won't name.

    Well this guy proudly gives me a price of 1690 € for a NL210... can you beleive it... 1690 € for a 2x10" cab !

    For your better understanding, 1690 € = 2036 $
    A NL210 new in US is I think around 800/900 $
    Even with shipping, taxes and duties, it would have coast me far less money to buy from US. Absolutly crazy prices sometimes.

  20. Stox


    Mar 18, 2005
    London UK
    Healthcare free? :eyebrow: We as nation are led to believe its free. However, it's not as we pay National Insurance Contributions, we tend to forget that. Our employers collect it on behalf of the government by automatically docking it from our pay every month.

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