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Go West

Sales TaxYes, I know I promised no more Pet Shop Boys song titles, but this one was just to good to resist.

Two things:

  1. I discovered yesterday when buying songs off of the US store of iTunes that when the total appears at the bottom, you get a message that you don’t get on the UK version that says “+ applicable sales tax” which I found quite novel.
  2. The equivalent of the ‘123’ talking clock in the states is to dial 324-1234. Anyone else know what numbers to dial for the talking clock in other countries?

Oh, and there’s a third thing – I’m just popping over t’other side of the pond for a wee while. I’ll be back at some point …

… probably.

Heading West

48 responses to “Go West”

  1. Jono says:

    Take it easy, and try grits, if only once, just so you can say you have.

  2. Chris says:

    Well I’ve just got back from t’other side of the pond.

    It’s cold – wrap up warm!


  3. geofftech says:

    I’ve already got some Grits here! (at home) But they remain, as yet unopen …

  4. Dunce says:

    (1) In the US, the basic sales tax rate is set by the state (although there are a few states with no sales tax); in some states, certain counties and/or cities impose additional sales taxes. It’s further complicated because different classes of products are taxed at different rates (or exempt) in different areas. It’s probably because of this that prices displayed in the US do not include tax.

    But wait, there’s more (the “applicable tax” bit). If you are a US resident buying a product from an out-of-state business, if that vendor does not have a physical location in your state, they are not required to collect sales taxes from you. But in many states, residents are meant to keep records, and pay sales tax on their out-of-state purchases when they file their annual state income tax returns. I imagine that very few people do this, though.

    (2) Sadly the US talking clock number you found isn’t a national number but only local. Most places I’ve lived in the US (Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin) also have local numbers for time & temperature, but they’re all different.

  5. Yeah, that sales tax will catch you out when you’re there. You’ll pay an almost inpenetrably complicated and random extra amount on top of the price they advertise for anything. Bank on about 10%.

  6. Raf says:

    Hey Geoff, for what it’s worth: here in Belgium we have to call 1200 for the talking clock 🙂

  7. I won’t even try to explain Hawaii’s excise tax, which is 4%, but is a tax on everything, (goods and services) and because it is so broad and low, is considered regressive and a real hardship on all us workin’ types>. Their thinking is that visitors to the state pay most of it, but they have figured out if you had an equivalent sales tax, they would have to charge 20% to earn the revenue they get for excise. Pirates. STILL, even considering all the taxes you may encounter stateside, it’s not nearly as expensive in sum total, as jolly ole England.

    How did you buy off another country’s Music Store? They would not allow me to buy tunes off the UK Music Store.

  8. Be careful, have fun and look out for the fat people! (America is full of them!)

  9. Scott B says:

    Oh, are you coming to see me then?

    If it’s Canada you’re visiting, you can count on a 7% goods and
    services tax (GST) and an additional 8% provincial sales tax —
    unless you come to my home province (Alberta) which has none.

    Yes, many Americans are fat, but Canadians are ALL slim, fit and
    extremely attractive.

  10. Big Dave says:

    “Yes, many Americans are fat, but Canadians are ALL slim, fit and extremely attractive.”

    *Cough* And Gay *Cough* :p

    I’d like a big mac and large fries. Yeh, why not, SUPERSIZE ME!

    Geoff, do you think you can do something about George Bush, maybe confuse him by telling him the lines of the tube or something?

    Ave a good one!

  11. If the man (George Bush) can lie, spy, start wars over nothing, play dirty tricks on enemies, reward corporate & oil cronies, gut the US economy, steal elections, etc. etc., etc., and yet still remain in office, there is simply no hope for the world.

  12. Laura says:

    What a rude thing to say Paul! 😮

    Have a wonderful time Geoff!

  13. geofftech says:

    #9 Scott … I’m afraid I won’t be making it to the 51st state of the US of A that is known as ‘Canada’ 🙂 maybe next time…? we’ll see. You don’t mention what you have to dial for the talking clock though!

    #7 Kris … ditto! What do you dial to get the time in HI? And and as for the US iTunes store – errr … I wasn’t using my iTunes account, think about it!

    #12 Laura … I’ll slap Paul for you next time I see him. How rude indeed! Tsk.

    Anyway – look, I’ve got and made a nice new logo for whilst I’m on my travels. Ah, how pretty …

    iBlog USA

  14. *Hangs his head in shame*

    I’ve been told off, sorry to offend anyone! As with the comment about Canadians being good looking, I can second this. My friend’s wife is from Vancouver, and she is a bit of all right! 😉

  15. Alan Perks says:

    Yes Paul, you are a very naughty boy! My cousin is from Canada and is certainly NOT ugly. Quite the reverse actually.

  16. Hey that flag artwork looks like it’s swiped from *my* “202 in the UK” logo. (See the iBlog from May 1, 05) Sigh, I suppose I have been replaced. 😉

    Hawaii Time can be called at 808-961-0212.

    #15: Wasn’t “Paul AKA” dissing fat Americans, not Canadians ? But he is sadly correct..many Americans are waaaay too fat. I must say when I was in England and Italy I saw very very few obese people. Your diets are just better I think. Especially in Italy.

    Safe travels, Mr. G, and be sure to charge up that iPod!!

  17. geofftech says:

    Video iPod: Check.
    Laptop: Check.
    Mobile: Check.
    Digital Camera: Check.
    Chargers for each of these items: Check

    I’m amazed I had space for anything else!

    #16 – Nah, I just google image’d for “US Flag”, and a nice big shiny one popped up. Cropped it down, faded it out a little and plonked my text on top of it. Not stolen from you Kris, honest!

  18. Chris says:


    How about Travel Adaptor?

  19. So I *haven’t* been replaced?? 😉

    Also, don’t forget UK-to-US ADAPTers!! You can actually buy them reasonably at Heathrow…if I recall. Leave the [CELL] phone home! Too pricey to use there. Maybe someone will get you a temporary cell to use in the US, as “someone” so kindly did for me, when I visited England… back when, *sniff** “I” was #1 American. (Kidding, have a great time!!)

  20. I don’t think we’ve had full disclosure of what you’re actually doing in America.

    Also, when you’re going to America, they will hand you forms asking if you
    a) have ever been on a farm
    b) intend to kill the president
    c) are a terrorist or a spy
    d) have ever been convicted of moral turpitude (They do not provide a dictionary)
    e) were involved in nazi atrocities.
    The correct answer is, I believe, “No”.

    It will also ask you where you intend to be staying. So remember to make a note of that.

  21. Chris says:

    And thy send you to the back of the queue if you make a spelling istake on the form – so don’t!

  22. geofftech says:

    Are you kidding? I’ve just got a spanking new Nokia N70 which has got tri-band!

    So the ‘tech’ in me is dying to take it just to see how much functionality it has actually got when overseas – Wap? 3G? Video calls? etc.. Should be fun. Plus I want to see if I can do email from it – i’m getting quite hooked on taking a photo and emailing it off instantly to someone.

    Converter: Check

    Non-public-disclosure to the reason for going: Check

  23. #20: What an unfriendly welcome to the U.S. I have already warned him about not judging all Americans by the few bad Bush-apples he may encounter.

    When you come to Hawaii, it’s even more strict…you have to fill out a form to indicate if you have any plants or animals with you. They’ll confiscate them when you de-plane. That’s partly how bad critters got to Hawaii and got established. We have no snakes and want to keep it that way, although a few brown tree snakes have made their way into Hawaii-bound airline holds. (They are wreaking havoc in Guam where they have no predators.)

    #22: You’ll love how cheap electronics are Stateside.

  24. Chris says:

    Wap in New York was ok, not that it helps much! – Good for checking footie scores!

  25. geofftech says:

    #22: You’ll love how cheap electronics are Stateside.

    I’m quite worried about this actually … if I see a Nikon D50 for anything less that what it would cost me in £££ equivalant, I’m going to have a really hard time keeping my credit card in my pocket!

  26. If you don’t already have the lenses, that D50 is going to be a very expensive purchase.

  27. geofftech says:

    D50+ lens kit here in Jessops is £460. That’s currently US$800. So anything less than that and I will be tempted!

  28. geofftech says:

    Uh oh … appear to be selling it for $669.95 which is ‘only’ £383 …

  29. Yeah. But you won’t just need the kit lens. I have about 3 times the value of my camera body in lenses…. If you just get the kit lens, you’re wasting a fine piece of kit and would be better off with a pro-sumer camera.

    (Also, £447 on Amazon, and Jessop’s will price match that)

  30. Geoff might seriously rack up some debt when he sees how cheap everything is compared to England.

    Also… electronics aren’t the only thing cheap Stateside. Wait until you see the prices at FCUK!! Down at the local mawwwwwwwwwl.

  31. Ian says:

    That is, of course, $669 + Applicable sales tax. And strictly speaking, you are liable for tax on any imported goods over £140….

    Also, Adorama aren’t, but beware of the “bait and switch” merchants offering prices too good to be true

  32. Mark Garth says:

    I would recommend an EOS 350D, but it’s personal choice at the end of the day 🙂

  33. Anthony says:

    I know two people with EOS 350Ds and, they’re bloody good. I would buy one if I had too much money.

  34. Mark Garth says:

    I think it’s a fantastic camera and there are some reasonable deals around at the moment that include an 18-55mm and a 55-200mm lens etc. Over the pond, It appears to be called the EOS Digital Rebel XT, but there is no accounting for taste 😉

  35. Yorkie says:

    Re #22:
    “Non-public-disclosure to the reason for going: Check”

    Is this intended to stimulate discussion?

  36. Indeed I was slagging off Fat Americans! Canadians are a different species … mmm friend’s wife from Vancouver!

  37. The Canon 18-55 and 55-200 are, IMHO, relatively speaking, poor lenses. Better than on most common or garden digicams but not as good as the slightly more expensive (ring) USM lenses like the 28-135 IS USM… This is a good article on such matters…

    Of course, it’s all moot, as Geoff seems somehow set on a Nikon.

  38. Mark Garth says:

    The 55-200 currently sold with the EOS 350D is a USM (or sep for about £200), so maybe they have upgraded it since the 300D series article was written? The IS lenses are hugely expensive (potentially thousands depending on model) due to their sensing and moving element that provides the image stabilisation. Although they are supposed to be very good if you have the cash!

  39. The 55-200 is not “proper” USM. It’s micro USM, which doesn’t allow you to tweak the auto-focus at will. The 28-135 IS is £375 at Jessops – i’m not advocating a white l-class lens in this situation! After someone’s talent and skill, the lens is going to have the single greatest effect on the resulting picture. I think that if you’re going to potentially spend hundreds on a camera, one should consider the balance of how you spend it, otherwise it’s like putting huge spoilers on a fiesta.

    Shall I bore everyone further, or have you all dozed off now?

    PS. If anyone’s feeling generous, I’d love a 70-200 DO IS USM canon lens… any offers?

  40. stroppycow says:

    Travel budget vs gadget budget… choices, choices, choices 🙂

  41. pixeldiva says:

    travel good but ephemeral.

    gadgets better 🙂

  42. Peter says:

    Yappy Hew Near everyone.

  43. Peter says:

    And Geoff, have a good time in Yank-land.

  44. geofftech says:

    I can’t believe I’ve provoked such a discussion about cameras! Love it though. I am though an Nikon junkie – always have been, always will be, It’s like me a Nokia mobile phones – wouldn’t use anything else now. I’m obviously getting old and set in my ways….

    Anyway. Immigrations were as pleasant as I expected them to be…

  45. The Americans let you in, then!
    (assuming your last comment wasn’t NokiaN70-ed from a holding cell round the back of the airport)

  46. I’m eternally sorry I got suckered into a Motorola and a two year contract with Cingular. I should have stuck with Nokia. I love my Nikon coolpix cam, and have been complimented many times on my blog photography, even though they are basically point-and-shoot.

    And you may not be that old compared to *some* of us but you are deffo set in your ways!!! And how!!!!

    Why not take some cell-photos and email them to a blog post you make from your mobile?

  47. Anthony says:

    geofftech Says: “… Immigrations …”


  48. Andrew(TM) says:

    Remember that Jessops stores will price-match to any bona-fide UK web-retailer price… I saved about 80 quid when I bought my Nikon Coolscan V ED (LS-50) slide/negative scanner 6months back. 4000dpi (around 21Mpix), plus the excellent dynamic range and aesthetics of film – love it!

    BTW: I’m trying to fill a room in a shared house in Horley (walking distance of Gatwick Airport/Station, £270pcm +bills)? Anyone interested? (or are you mostly central-Londoners?)

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