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Old 02-15-2013, 06:36 PM   #1
bluefoggyday
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Cool Check the tax on your TiVo receipt

I was sitting here doing my taxes and pulled out my TiVo XL4 receipt from September. The tax looked odd to me so I got out my calculator to figure it out. Here's what my receipt says:

TiVo Product Lifetime $399.99 tax $49.00 Total $448.99
TiVo Premiere XL4 $349.99 tax $0.00 Total $349.99
Wireless G Adapter $0.00 tax $0.00 Total $0.00
TiVo P. E w/Service letter $0.00 tax $0.00 Total $0.00

Sub Total $749.98
Shipping $0.00
Tax $49.00
Order Total $798.98

Now in L.A. tax was 8.75% at the time. So, $399.99 x 8.75% = 34.99

Not $49.00

So I called TiVo and was on the phone for over an hour while they tried to figure it out. They sort of came up with the idea that I was charged tax on the MSRP of $499.99 for the XL4 and $59.99 for the Wireless G. Well, that would work, but that's not what my receipt says, AND the Wireless G was supposed to be free.

So they put me through to a supervisor named Raymond, who was a total jerk. He told me I was wrong several times. He told me that tax in L.A. was 9% (it is now, but wasn't then). He told me that tax on $399.99 was $49.00, it's not, it's $34.99. He kept insisting he was right and I was wrong. I finally asked for his superior and he told me that HE was the supervisor and he didn't answer to anyone else. After dogging him more, he said he would have someone call me back. I hate that. No, unacceptable. So I finally got the number for corporate.

Before I called them, I called the California Board of Equalization, told them the story and they basically said that TiVo is wrong and I should file a complaint. They said that a consumer MUST be able to extrapolate the tax they paid from the amounts listed on the receipt. So if the tax is based on the MSRP, that price needs to be on the receipt. They also verified that they can't charge tax on "free" items.

So then I called corporate, got a really nice guy named David. He told me the same thing, that the tax is on the MSRP for the XL4 and the G adapter. He said because it's a "bundled" package, they can do that...not unlike a cell phone package.

Well, the guy at the BOE told me that the only "bundle" that can do that, is a cellphone, not any other equipment.

So now they're looking into the matter and will supposedly get back to me on Tuesday.

If I'm right and they're wrong, they're going to have to do a lot of refunding to customers. So check your receipts and see what you paid and if it makes sense to you...make sure the tax is right according to the price listed on the receipt.

I'd be interested to hear if others have the same problem.
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Old 02-15-2013, 06:52 PM   #2
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Was $15 really worth an hour of your time and all this hassle? Not saying they aren't wrong, but at some point you reach a point of diminishing returns.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:01 PM   #3
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It's not about the money, it's the principle. If they are doing that to hundreds of customers, they're screwing a lot of people. Further, I wouldn't know ahead of time that it would take an hour.

I don't believe in businesses breaking the law and getting away with it at the customer's expense.

I never reached diminishing returns, the investigation is in full swing. I call that progress.
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Old 02-15-2013, 07:19 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by bluefoggyday View Post
It's not about the money, it's the principle. If they are doing that to hundreds of customers, they're screwing a lot of people. Further, I wouldn't know ahead of time that it would take an hour.

I don't believe in businesses breaking the law and getting away with it at the customer's expense.

I never reached diminishing returns, the investigation is in full swing. I call that progress.
Nice job
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Old 02-15-2013, 08:20 PM   #5
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I usually check out the "Bundle" pricing when TiVo has a special offer, and add the items to my cart just to see what the taxes are. And the taxes are always wrong, and for every instance I have checked on a Bundle I can never figure out how they get to the figure for the tax.

One Bundle I checked TiVo was also charging tax on the Lifetime service.
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bluefoggyday View Post
Now in L.A. tax was 8.75% at the time. So, $399.99 x 8.75% = 34.99

Not $49.00
This does NOT answer your question, but there are various times (yes I'm weasling, it very well may be ALWAYS) where places are required to charge tax on the ENTIRE price, pre-rebate.

Your $399.99 lifetime is discounted from $499.99, right? (Because of MSD.) Again, that does NOT answer the entire question, because tax on that would be $43.75..

However, that may be part of the puzzle.
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Old 02-16-2013, 12:58 AM   #7
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It was very likely just a mistake. Their system probably got notice that the LA tax rate was going up to 9% and simply put it into effect a little early. I seriously doubt it was an intentional plan to screw you, or anyone else, out of an extra $15. And the guys you talk to on the phone probably didn't actually know what happened so they were just looking for a viable explanation in an effort to appease you and get you to let it go.

You just bought an $800 TiVo is $15 really going to make or break the purchase for you?

Honestly if it were me I never would have even noticed. When I buy something and they charge me tax I just assume it's right and pay it. I never double check their math. As long as I'm OK with the final price then who cares really?
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Old 02-16-2013, 06:24 AM   #8
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Of course the extra tax money might not be ending up in Tivo's pockets.....but being sent right along. Ooops!
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Old 02-16-2013, 06:49 AM   #9
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Of course the extra tax money might not be ending up in Tivo's pockets.....but being sent right along. Ooops!
Better for TiVo if that's true than if they were collecting it and not sending it in, because that would require some intentional cooking of the books.
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Old 02-16-2013, 04:08 PM   #10
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It was very likely just a mistake. Their system probably got notice that the LA tax rate was going up to 9% and simply put it into effect a little early. I seriously doubt it was an intentional plan to screw you, or anyone else, out of an extra $15. And the guys you talk to on the phone probably didn't actually know what happened so they were just looking for a viable explanation in an effort to appease you and get you to let it go.

You just bought an $800 TiVo is $15 really going to make or break the purchase for you?

Honestly if it were me I never would have even noticed. When I buy something and they charge me tax I just assume it's right and pay it. I never double check their math. As long as I'm OK with the final price then who cares really?
Good for you, but thankfully, not everyone has such an apathetic attitude toward being taken advantage of.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:30 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by CoxInPHX View Post
I usually check out the "Bundle" pricing when TiVo has a special offer, and add the items to my cart just to see what the taxes are. And the taxes are always wrong, and for every instance I have checked on a Bundle I can never figure out how they get to the figure for the tax.

One Bundle I checked TiVo was also charging tax on the Lifetime service.
I do the same thing and sometimes there is a glitch in the Tivo.com checkout. When they had them in the Clearance Center, I would put a Tivo XL in the checkout and the sales tax was always wrong. Often 4 times what it should have been. But if I put in a Premiere 320gb in the system first, then the XL would have the right amount applied. The 320gb model never had this glitch and adding the 320gb model second wouldn't change the wrong amount on the XL.

Yes, I've seen those bundles where sales tax was also applied to the lifetime service. It's particularly galling to me since where I live (MIchigan) there is no sales tax on services.
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Old 02-19-2013, 01:58 PM   #12
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I'm certainly going to keep tracking this. I remember complaining about being billed a non-Illinois tax rate a few years ago from Tivo. I complained, but the deal was pretty good so it did not make sense for me to sit arguing for an extended period. I would have been a pain "just because" if the deal was not so good.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:03 PM   #13
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I know that with Cell phones for example you are Taxed on the Full retail.
For example, If retail is 499 but the carrier discounts in to 99 because you sign a contract you are taxed on the 499 and not the 99.

Wonder if there is something similiar going on here.
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Old 02-19-2013, 04:22 PM   #14
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According to my billing history on tivo.com, I was charged sales tax for my 3 lifetime services (6.6%).
I obviously paid sales tax on the Tivos, all bought retail.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:01 PM   #15
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I know that with Cell phones for example you are Taxed on the Full retail.
For example, If retail is 499 but the carrier discounts in to 99 because you sign a contract you are taxed on the 499 and not the 99.
I already mentioned that, and that wouldn't answer the full story, at least with the #s given.
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:28 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by bluefoggyday View Post

TiVo Product Lifetime $399.99 tax $49.00 Total $448.99
TiVo Premiere XL4 $349.99 tax $0.00 Total $349.99
Wireless G Adapter $0.00 tax $0.00 Total $0.00
TiVo P. E w/Service letter $0.00 tax $0.00 Total $0.00

Sub Total $749.98
Shipping $0.00
Tax $49.00
Order Total $798.98
That receipt is weird. You were charged 12.25% on the lifetime service and no tax on anything else?


Quote:
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You just bought an $800 TiVo is $15 really going to make or break the purchase for you?
I was overcharged sales tax by $315 on a $20.5k vehicle purchase several years ago. That's close to the same % difference as the example here. Did I complain about it? You bet your booty I did.

I absolutely love my TiVo. I don't want TiVo to go out of business. But if they're not collecting the sales tax correctly, something needs to be done to change that. I applaud your efforts to being an informed and engaged consumer.
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:33 AM   #17
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Dont forget about special taxing districts. Just because city wide its one number, doesn't mean there may not be special taxing districts that are higher in certain areas. By me, the tax rate is 7.5%, but right down the street at the mall, the tax rate is over 10%, same city limits.
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:00 PM   #18
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I don't know if this is how it is in California, but when I lived elsewhere the local sales tax was not charged on internet orders. Only the state sales tax (that way there was no need to deal with local tax variations). I think I read that in California, the sales tax is broken out as 6.5% state, 1% uniform local, and special local (1.5% in LA's case). The $49 tax is suspiciously close to ($399.99 + $349.99) * 6.5% = $48.75.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:28 PM   #19
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I bought PLS last June. No tax. I added the 3 year extended warranty in late September and was charged $2.60 in tax on the $39.99 warranty; which is 6.5%.

I live in Ohio.

I don't care about the tax I paid, but why would anyone that doesn't live in California be charged tax on any tivo.com order? TiVo has no retail presence in any state to my knowledge; I thought that is what determines whether an online retailer will charge you tax or not.

I would expect California residents that bought items on tivo.com after mid-September 2012 to be charged tax. CA law changed at that time.
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Old 02-21-2013, 07:55 AM   #20
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I don't care about the tax I paid, but why would anyone that doesn't live in California be charged tax on any tivo.com order? TiVo has no retail presence in any state to my knowledge; I thought that is what determines whether an online retailer will charge you tax or not.
Retail presence doesn't matter. Business presence does. They have affiliated marketing and sales offices all over the place. (This is why many states have pushed back on Amazon. They have affiliates in just about every state. Amazon has tried to argue that controlled entities aren't a business presence via narrow definitional differences.)
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:01 PM   #21
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Retail presence doesn't matter. Business presence does. They have affiliated marketing and sales offices all over the place. (This is why many states have pushed back on Amazon. They have affiliates in just about every state. Amazon has tried to argue that controlled entities aren't a business presence via narrow definitional differences.)
Also people don't purchase from TiVo to save tax as many people do on Amazon, TiVo charges a 1% tax on Lifetime Service in CT and the normal 6.35% tax on the hardware, for some reason TiVo does not charge tax in MA, so TiVo does not charge tax in all states with a sales tax. In September CT people will have to start paying tax from Amazon UGGGG. E-Bay looks like the last of the big sellers of stuff that mostly does not yet charge sale tax.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:31 PM   #22
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I don't know if this is how it is in California, but when I lived elsewhere the local sales tax was not charged on internet orders. Only the state sales tax (that way there was no need to deal with local tax variations). I think I read that in California, the sales tax is broken out as 6.5% state, 1% uniform local, and special local (1.5% in LA's case). The $49 tax is suspiciously close to ($399.99 + $349.99) * 6.5% = $48.75.
This is exactly what the calculation is, nice post. I work with financial spreadsheets and it's always satisfying to see calculations pan out correctly.

I'm now interested in why the OP didn't think it odd that he should only have been charged tax on his lifetime service but not the TiVo he purchased at the same time. At least he didn't describe it as the 'biggest scam ever' or threaten to cancel his service.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:30 PM   #23
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Some of you have entirely too much time on your hands. While it's not 'acceptable' to get overcharged $10 in sales tax, my time (and blood pressure) is far too valuable to spend an hour or more arguing about it on a six month old purchase.
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:20 PM   #24
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What does doing your taxes and a receipt for a TiVo have to do with each other? Are you somehow deducting the TiVo on your taxes?
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Old 02-21-2013, 05:47 PM   #25
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What does doing your taxes and a receipt for a TiVo have to do with each other? Are you somehow deducting the TiVo on your taxes?
I'm completely speculating, but I imagine that he's the kind of methodical individual who keeps all of his receipts and was going through them individually to see if they applied to his taxes.

Alternatively he might be subject to "use" tax, and he's actually willing to go through the trouble of adding up all of his purchases vs estimating it or taking a flat use tax hit.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:33 PM   #26
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Okay maybe, but recalculating the sales tax on that receipt seems overkill.

If you have that kind of spare time, get a part time job.
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Old 02-25-2013, 02:55 PM   #27
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You're being charged tax on the retail value of your TiVo DVR. See this link for more information:

http://support.tivo.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/31

Note that any discounted prece you paid ($349) is not the retail value of TiVo
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