It’s about time someone pointed out that cross-border on-line trading in the EU is a farce; and thankfully it’s someone with a bit of clout: eBay. The article on the BBC today suggests eBay is most concerned with transatlantic trading, but the on-line restrictions whether imposed by the EU or by businesses themselves can make cross border shopping a minefield.

We came up against a wall of idiocy like this recently when we tried to buy a toilet seat (yes – a toilet seat, one of those kiddie friendly type ones) from the UK. Every distributor we approached refused to send us the item because we were based in France; and their distribution channel agreement prevented them from selling abroad. In that case, would they know where we could buy it in France then? Of course not!

Normally we only expect this sort of static because of the billing issues (few UK on-line stores give you the option of paying for an item with a UK bank card registered to a French address).

Of course taxation is the big issue, and until tax harmonisation comes in (which I feel it must), we Euro-consumers are going to be perpetually stiffed by nation states protecting their VAT revenues. At the moment, as a consumer, if you actually want to benefit from the cost savings that cross-border purchasing can offer you, then you have to physically cross that border; which if you ask me – seems to defeat the whole idea of the common market?