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Old 23.04.2019, 17:56
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Retail import rip-offs

A follow-up to the recent Swiss rip-offs thread.

What are the worst examples of rip-offs by retailers selling imports who bear next to no Swiss wage costs, and are just fleecing you because they can.

Note, I’m not challenging their right to charge what they want, just naming in the interests of pricing transparency.

I’ll start the ball rolling: made.com

They sell furniture all over Europe. Their prices vary by country. For one armchair I was looking at the Swiss price was CHF1,109. This represents a mark-up of between 60% (versus Sweden) and 115% (versus Spain).

Note they are pure mail order with no showrooms in Switzerland.
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Old 23.04.2019, 18:10
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

For a retailer the ‘perfect’ price for anything is what the punter is prepared to pay.

You don’t like the price? Don’t buy it.
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Old 23.04.2019, 18:37
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

Are you saying I shouldn’t call out a retailer who’s charging 80/90% markup over France/Germany in the complaints section of an online forum?

Some retailers have prices in Switzerland that are no different to elsewhere and that should be applauded. Eg Decathlon and Ikea appear priced more or less same here as anywhere else.


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Don’t buy it.
Errrrr ... I’m not.
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Old 23.04.2019, 20:26
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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Are you saying I shouldn’t call out a retailer who’s charging 80/90% markup over France/Germany in the complaints section of an online forum?
That list would be so long that EF would need a bigger server.
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Old 23.04.2019, 20:40
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

It is a fact of life that things cost more in Switzerland than elsewhere. Lots of reasons but one of the biggest one is that Swiss consumers are prepared to pay the higher prices.

Complaining on the EF may make you feel better, but it unlikely to be noticed outside of a small community.

If you really want to complain, then do so on the retailer’s facebook page. That might get some attention.
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Old 23.04.2019, 20:42
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

Would never buy something without looking at it first.
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Old 25.04.2019, 08:31
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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Are you saying I shouldn’t call out a retailer who’s charging 80/90% markup over France/Germany in the complaints section of an online forum?

Some retailers have prices in Switzerland that are no different to elsewhere and that should be applauded. Eg Decathlon and Ikea appear priced more or less same here as anywhere else.
All too often the main cause is the producer or IP owner. Not always of course but probably in the majority of cases. This is most evident with online shops where the identical product costs twice as much in the .ch domain than abroad, or with print products from abroad. Or consider BMW, who've been fined for forbidding their German garages to sell to Swiss residents. Swiss retailers who buy in bulk abroad (for instance Coca Cola), re-label and import them to sell cheaper than if they bought from the Swiss source. To name just a few cases.
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Old 25.04.2019, 09:30
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

In most cases it's not the producers or the retailers fault, it's often the importers and distributors.

There's been many times I've wanted to import food products from UK manufacturers and they've put me on to their sole Swiss distributor and it's their prices which are too high (but of course they look at their fixed costs and add on a margin to cover it and a small profit). The shops they sell to then add on their fair margin and that's the price they sell here, they don't bother looking at the retail price in the UK or elsewhere to see if it's reasonable. That's the price, if the end customer buys the products they will re-order from the importer who will in turn re-order from the producer abroad.

A lot of times I've had to "grey import" - buy the products I want from wholesalers in the UK, import myself and sometimes my retail price is the same or lower than the official importers trade price to me.

My GF was talking about clothes prices here this last weekend (often the clothes tickets have prices for multiple countries). She found that Zara is the most reasonable, only 5% or so above equivalent European retail prices. WE was about 10 - 15% above. Neither, IMO are over priced bearing in mind the much higher costs of running businesses here.
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Old 25.04.2019, 11:07
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

There is a new EU law for online sales that is supposed to stop retailers switching you to sites in different countries that have higher prices, Of course, Switzerland is not in the EU.
Nevertheless I have noticed some sites no longer switch you to a Swiss site.
Another possibility is to order in another country, have it delivered in that country.
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Old 25.04.2019, 11:44
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

One other thing I've noticed, slightly tangential to this, is how private people selling stuff will change their prices.


- how much does this cool stuff cost?
- 100 monies
- ok I'd like to buy it

- no problem. where should it be sent to?
- Address, Switzerland, Europe
- ooh, shipping will cost +50 monies, you know this my friend, right?
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Old 25.04.2019, 13:55
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

For decades I had been using a dental material made in the USA, bought from a retailer ("Dentaldepot" in German) in Switzerland at CHF 241.00 a bottle of about 15 milliliters. About 18 years ago I was told it was not available any more. I quickly found out that the stuff was still on the market in the USA, at USD 58.99 (!) a bottle of the same size. I contacted several dental retailers in the USA, where I was told that they mail only to practices in the USA.

Meanwhile the product was back on the Swiss dental market, still at CHF 241.00. The break had been caused by new regulations imposed by the EU (you know that Switzerland is the country that immediately introduces every new EU regulation, way quicker than any EU member....), and dealing with all the new red tape import stuff had caused a delay.

However, in view of the exorbitant price difference, I contacted the manufacturer during one of my first stays in the USA, a little company with a pompous name in Pennsylvania. There I was kindly told that they could mail their product to any address in the USA, at - wait for it - an export price of USD 7.85 a bottle. I got three bottles within two days, including an invoice for USD 29.xx incl. handling and shipping. On my way back to Switzerland I didn't even have to pay any customs dues because the price was way below the limit.

Guess where I ordered three bottles every times I was in the USA, until I sold my practice in 2017? Needless to say that nothing, but really nothing can justify the price difference between US and Swiss retail, other than the fact that the Swiss retailers (all them, no exceptions) obviously just mercilessly fathom the pain threshold of their Swiss customers. Swiss Customs dues for bulk import are less than CHF 1.00 per bottle.

And still, on the average, dentistry in the USA usually is more expensive than in Switzerland.
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Old 25.04.2019, 14:57
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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There is a new EU law for online sales that is supposed to stop retailers switching you to sites in different countries that have higher prices, Of course, Switzerland is not in the EU.
Nevertheless I have noticed some sites no longer switch you to a Swiss site.
Another possibility is to order in another country, have it delivered in that country.
There is only a law that says that if they are willing to sell to you that when buying in the same store they must handle the same price for people inside the stores country as they do for people in other EU countries.

Big chains simply have multiple businesses and no law is telling them that they are obliged to sell towards foreign countries if a German company does not want to deliver to Switzerland than nobody can force them to do so. And there is nothing wrong with them redirecting you to their local company.
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Old 25.04.2019, 15:14
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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Needless to say that nothing, but really nothing can justify the price difference between US and Swiss retail, other than the fact that the Swiss retailers (all them, no exceptions) obviously just mercilessly fathom the pain threshold of their Swiss customers
I understand a bit of a mark up because of higher costs here. Perhaps even twice or three times the price but I consistently see items here for sale at perhaps five or ten times the price elsewhere.

Is it sheer greed on the part of suppliers here, simple market forces, or the stupidity/naivety of local buyers here which allows this price differential to happen?

I can appreciate the greed factor - businesses will try and maximise profits, and I can understand the market forces. at play.

Perhaps a local on this forum can explain the third reason?
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Old 25.04.2019, 15:27
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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I understand a bit of a mark up because of higher costs here. Perhaps even twice or three times the price but I consistently see items here for sale at perhaps five or ten times the price elsewhere.

Is it sheer greed on the part of suppliers here, simple market forces, or the stupidity/naivety of local buyers here which allows this price differential to happen?

I can appreciate the greed factor - businesses will try and maximise profits, and I can understand the market forces. at play.

Perhaps a local on this forum can explain the third reason?
Can you give an example of what is 10 times the price here? It might help to see why people are willing to fork out over the odds for it, and whether in fact it's locals paying for it or expats desperate for Shredded Wheat and brown sugar from expat shops.

If you are seeing it "consistently", maybe we can spot a pattern.
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Old 25.04.2019, 16:53
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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I understand a bit of a mark up because of higher costs here. Perhaps even twice or three times the price but I consistently see items here for sale at perhaps five or ten times the price elsewhere.

Is it sheer greed on the part of suppliers here, simple market forces, or the stupidity/naivety of local buyers here which allows this price differential to happen?
My name wouldn't be Captain Greybeard if I hadn't done quite a bit of additional research. Besides the example mentioned in my previous post I have a collection of hundreds of other examples of pure greed. A Swiss dental retailer will not hesitate to sell you a single panhead bolt M3x6, galvanized, at a price that gets you a box of 5000 of exactly the same bolts at the hardware store next door. No kidding. Over the counter, without a technician traveling to your practice, screwing it into your piece of dental equipment in two minutes etc..

As for my previous example with the little bottles, my research yielded the following figures: Buy 1000 of those bottles, pay $7850 (probably less, I'm sure they have bulk prices), pack them in a box and ship the box (total weight, say, 30 kg) to Switzerland, by snail mail, mind you. Even an ocean-going freighter will suffice and probably cost you less than 50 USD, plus 45 bucks for handling etc.. Swiss customs will charge you by weight (I kid you not!). The tariff is the same as, for instance, for ordinary transformers, car batteries, garden hoses and the like, in other words, maybe CHF 100 at the very most. Ok, let's be generous and say CHF 200. Total expenses so far: CHF / USD 8245. But now your box has a retail value of almost a quarter million. Granted, you have to provide space on a storage shelf, and actually selling it incl. expenses for administration etc. will slightly reduce that amount too, but the mark-up is still absolutely astronomical.

Besides this ruthless greed, the naivety of the buyer sure is an important factor too. The retailers get away with their practice because the Swiss dentist will never question a price. Never. I may have been the only exception in the last 45 years, and those companies hated my guts with all their heart.

The naivety is so deep-rooted, that if you think you could import such a product according to what I just outlined above (apart from possible legal issues because you are not a licensed dental retailer)and sell it cheaper than the usual channels, you would most like fail, miserably so. You run a wonderful advertisement campaign (ok, several grand too), trying to sell your product 10 % below the market price. Swiss dentists will say to themselves, "Now wait a minute. That can't be the same stuff. I'm not buying that." I have many documented examples of that phenomenon too. Hard to believe but true. I could write a book on this topic, but I'm afraid no dentist would buy, let alone read, it because they don't really care, even my best friends.
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Old 03.05.2019, 13:46
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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In most cases it's not the producers or the retailers fault, it's often the importers and distributors.
It depends.

Migros is (temporarily?) removing all Nivea products from the shelves because the producer "demands higher big bulk prices than what many sell for abroad".
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Old 06.05.2019, 12:54
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Re: Retail import rip-offs

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I’ll start the ball rolling: made.com

They sell furniture all over Europe. Their prices vary by country. For one armchair I was looking at the Swiss price was CHF1,109. This represents a mark-up of between 60% (versus Sweden) and 115% (versus Spain).

Note they are pure mail order with no showrooms in Switzerland.
Looks like you dodged a bullet anyway... https://www.reviews.co.uk/company-re...e/www-made-com

Internet shopping represents a real challenge to Swiss retailers... some have adapted... some haven't. Being in Basel means, outside of electronics, I always look first at French / German sites to see if I can have stuff delivered to friends over the border. (and of course I declare it !!!)
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