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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Bad maths and poor service: Abu Dhabi tax inspectors catch out stores during VAT visits

Department of Economic Development receives more than 350 complaints from customers in two weeks

A store cashier receives payment from a customer at a local convenience store in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
A store cashier receives payment from a customer at a local convenience store in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

Consumer protection teams caught out 27 retailers for failing to accurately implement VAT on goods in the two weeks since the 5 per cent tax came into effect.

Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development on Monday also said it has received more than 350 complaints from shoppers since January 1.

Whether it was failing to give an accurate receipt or calculating an amount that was "much higher" than the 5 per cent tax, retailers were found to have breached trading rules.

Ahmed Tarish Al Qubaisi, acting director of DED’s Commercial Protection Department, said some of the complaints were related to the increase in prices, while others complained that they were not given a bill after the purchase.

He said others said that the value of the tax was not calculated upon purchase, whereas others reported that the tax record number was missing in the bill. Some shops calculated an amount that was much higher than 5 per cent, while others said that the sellers did not return change to the consumer after the purchase.

Twenty of the 27 fines were for imposing additional fees on a customer.

Businesses that do not have a tax record number on their receipts have either failed to register yet or have not yet updated till systems.

The issue of giving accurate change has led the authorities to intervene in recent days.

DED initially said that VAT affected prices that now add up to small amounts of change could in Abu Dhabi be rounded up by 25 fils for simplification, but it overturned its announcement on Saturday.

Thanks to the latest decision, a Dh1 bottle of water that previously cost Dh1.25 after rounding up, will now be sold for Dh1.05. Naturally, the burden to come up with the change will fall on shops.

The recent change in policy was in response to complaints filed by consumers who claimed that they were being grossly overcharged.

On Sunday, shopkeepers that spoke to The National said they were willing to absorb small extra charges caused by VAT in the interests of keeping customers happy.

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