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Saturday, July 08, 2006

To VAT, or not to VAT?

That is today's poll question! I'll be adding a new mini-poll shortly targeted at my EU buyers, who surely have more experience with the pros and cons of buying pipes from the USA than I do. With the recent decision to begin selling the majority of my pipes via Pipe & Pint's website (Still in construction as of this writing), I've gotten lots of inquiries about whether I would still be selling any pipes direct or not.

The short answer is, as few as possible. I'm perfectly happy to sell pipes direct to buyers in and around France, but the situation becomes much more difficult when people buy from further afield because then we must contend with France's notoriously unreliable international shipping (I say unreliable not because packages go missing - They never have, to date - but because the service is expensive and transit times are all over the map... One box will reach the US in 6 working days, another will take five weeks). After a few years of answering shipping inquiries on nearly every single box sent to the US ("It's been four weeks, where is my pipe?" And all I can answer is, "The tracking site says the box is 'In their system'"), I will happily turn shipping over to P&P, from whom buyers can purchase and see their pipes in a few days instead of weeks.

But, this brings up the question of today's poll - What would EU buyers prefer? If they purchase direct from me, their pipe will arrive pretty promptly, but they can buy just as easily from Pipe & Pint and save 20% on VAT. This could be a big difference on a 500 euro pipe! However, it does introduce the potential of customs charges, which seem to be random the world over, as near as I can tell. If EU buyers overwhelmingly prefer to buy direct, I will keep my site catalogs operating, albeit at a reduced level. I'll be curious to see what the votes show.


Today's photos show a few new pipes that are also slotted to go to Pipe & Pint, probably early next week. This piece in the close-up is my "Fantasy Bulldog" - I'm working on several Talbert Briar bulldogs all at once, and most of them are fairly traditional, so I had to have at least one that was rather surreal. I drew on the standard bulldog's general proportions but offset the entire bowl to the right, with a curvy sweep to the shank and stem. For once, it isn't a huge pipe, so it should please those folks who want Talbert Briars that are closer to flake-style sizes. Here's another pic of it from a different angle. I do not envy Larry having to try to take multiple photos of this thing to give a decent feel for it, as it's hard to capture in two dimensions.



This pipe has one rare distinction - It may have my best-ever hand signature and stamping alignment! ;) Not that this is saying much.....