One woman’s Top Shop protest

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I loved the initiative in this by Bryony Evens:

While big businesses like Philip Green’s Arcadia Group or Vodafone are able to avoid paying their full share of tax on profits made in the UK (either by means of legal loopholes or by negotiation with HM Customs & Revenue), the coalition government is busy cutting public services and benefits, making life a whole lot harder for many sectors of British society. The idea behind UK Uncut’s campaign is that reclaiming the tax which ought to have been paid by big business could fund the government initiatives being axed and help out many of those affected.

I decided to take action in my own small way, and prepared two flyers to try to use in Top Shop (http://bryony.posterous.com/top-shop-vat-protest-4th-december). The first one I visited was the brand new branch in Wandsworth’s Southside shopping centre. I chose a Breton top costing £20 and did my sums (divide by 1.175 to get the cost excluding VAT). I then filled in my flyers and approached the counter. I waited until the top had been rung up, and £20 asked for, then politely explained that I would not be able to pay the £2.98 VAT and would only be able to give them £17.02.

A manager was swiftly called and I repeated my assertion, explaining that since Philip Green and his wife cannot be trusted to pay the tax that was owed by moral duty to this government, I could not trust them to pay the VAT to HMRC, and therefore undertook to do this myself. The manager was very nice about it and said that it would not be possible to do that, so I pulled out the second flyer and asked her to sign on behalf of Top Shop to guarantee that the VAT would be paid on to the revenue. Unsurprisingly she was not willing to do that either. I asked if she could check with head office and she willingly agreed.

While she was away, I apologised politely to the person behind me in the queue and explained what I was doing. She hadn’t heard of the protests but hopefully she went home and googled Top Shop. The person behind her in the queue turned out to work for Top Shop head office, so knew all about the protest already, and kept saying No Comment, which was quite amusing! The manager returned saying she had been unable to reach customer services but did offer to pass on my form to head office. She seemed quite pleased that someone had come to protest as they’d been keeping tabs on the other demos and appeared to be disappointed that no-one had come to them! I thanked her and her colleague for allowing me to protest and gave them a packet of Minstrels – it’s not their fault after all.

Read the rest here.

And send your VAT cheque to HM Revenue & Customs @ 100 parliament Street London SW1A 2BQ with a covering explanation, if you get away with it!