Australia's TRS

For those who had been to Australia - have you heard of the TRS? As for me, I have been to Australia a few times in the past. Let me see, there was the 2007 APEC Finance Miinisters, 2005 Executive Development Program and the 2004 Stopover to Auckland. But not one of these times, have I heard the term TRS.

Yesterday, we managed to stop by a small store specialising in animal skins called the Skin Thing. My colleague bought something and by the time he was done his shopping cost a fair bit. The manager said since you are spending this much, you can try to get the tax back. Similarly at another shop nearby specialising in opals. There we discovered that there is a TRS leaflet and the minimum spending is $300 per receipt.

Back at the hotel, I read the leaflet through. I discovered the part about the bit about the products must be carried on board. But there was nothing in the leaflet about what to do with heavy or big items. In Singapore, there was a little customs post just before you check in and so you can show the purchases to the Custom and claim the refunds. I asked at the ticketing about the carry on rule. They just said go son in and so I did.

Inside the Brisane airport, we had to search for the counter. It was not that difficult. Eventually we found it just before you enter Gates 84 and above. However when we tried to claim, the officers won't let us. She said you must have the goods on you. We said, the sheepskin rugs came in big boxes and we can't carry it with us as hand carry. She said you should have gone down to the ground floor and show it to a custom officer. We said we didn't know. Even the leaflet didn't say. Besides departure was on Level 1 and not on ground floor. Besides even if we showed it to the Customs Officer, how would he know that I would checked it in. We even told them if in Singapore the Customs would be on the same level as the departure, We argued to and fro, ours is more frustration but the Aussie Customs won't give up ground. We clearly thought this is their fault for not being very clear. They clearly thought we were stupid.

So there, lesson for you guys. One, if you buy more than $300 in the same store in Australia, collect all the receipts and ask for a tax invoice. Bring that tax invoice to the airport. If you are going to check what you bought in and not a hand carry, find a customs officer and have the tax invoice chopped and the ggods verified by that officer. After check in, find the counter and have fun with the claims. The Customs apparently do not give out cash like in Singapore. They will return the balance via your credit card or they will give out cheques.

With all these hassles, I am just wondering why the Aussie customs bother with the policy when they are not making it very easy for you to get your tax back.

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