This one can now be 'put to bed' as eBay have now stopped this ridiculous practice allowing VAT to be added at checkout AFTER purchase............
Where charging excessive or seemingly excess postage charges to enhance the real selling price, or circumvent eBay fees, or both is unfortunately commonplace, the latest 'scam' to hit eBay seems to be in the ultra-competitive video games market, whereas many sellers are taking advantage in a 'loophole in the law' and eBay rules to advertise prices excluding VAT, to give themselves the edge over other sellers, who show their prices inclusive of taxes (or aren't VAT registered and don't need to anyway). Clearly this is unfair, that there is not a level playing field for the customer, who has to compare the same item, both inclusive of VAT and exclusive.
In every case I have encountered so far, the seller who is advertising prices exclusive of VAT, is asking for immediate payment on a 'buy it now' listing, and the bit about VAT being added to the total price at checkout, is 'somewhere a long way down the page'. So if the buyer does not read every bit of the listing in full, but just clicks on the the 'buy it now' button at the top thinking that they have a bargain, then they have a nasty shock to come at the checkout!
Let's clear up any misunderstanding here, whilst postage stamps do not attract VAT, charging Postage and Packing does, because it is a service that the seller is offering and VAT-able. So not only is VAT added to the price of the item, but to the P&P as well. With these sellers asking on average £3.99 to £5.99 for P&P, the actual P&P once VAT is added is £4.69 to £7.04!!
For example, a game being offered at £14.99 with £3.99 P&P, by one of these sellers is actually more expensive than a game being offered at £18.99 with £2.99 P&P by another seller who doesn't add VAT at the checkout, but how many buyers actually realise this?? Not many, from what I've seen so far!
So where do we go from here? Will more buyers take more care and time in reading listings fully (with a calculator at hand to compute the real total costs), driving away this unpleasant little game, or will more sellers jump on the bandwagon until the playing field is level and everyone advertises their prices exclusive of VAT??!!