Increasing reports of illegal business practices on The Hut Group’s Zavvi sales platform

As many may know, since the 1st of July, a lot of countries in the EU have started charging extra customs fees on shipments from outside of the current EU zone. This mainly affects businesses in the UK, China, and of course, the US. Many companies have swapped to charging these fees beforehand, to avoid high fines for their clients when their package(s) arrive. If a company does not adhere to the new rules and regulations, the client ends up paying a standard handling fee, as well as taxes on said fee and the value of the item that has been bought. In some cases, these costs then double the price of the purchased item. Zavvi, however, takes it a few steps further, as they ship all their items separately, without following the current rules. This results in a fine, per item, for their loyal customers. What are they currently doing about it? Nothing.

Many know Zavvi for their promotions, and often cheaper prices for official merchandise than many other (online) stores. This has been deemed common knowledge for movie buffs and collectors for the last few years. Many purchased their items on their country’s version of Zavvi, and often promptly had their item shipped to them. These shipments came from all over the place, but mainly from the UK or the US. In case an item went missing, most customers would simply get it replaced. When the rules for shipments to the EU were announced, Zavvi immediately stated in their terms and conditions for EU buyers that they would not be charged any extra customs fees. This remained true (for UK shipments) until the 1st of July. After the 1st of July, however, Zavvi changed their terms and conditions, without informing clients who made a purchase prior to the 1st of July. Now, for the past month, many shipments have been coming in for Belgian and Dutch clients, who are forced to pay ridiculous import fees for their items, as Zavvi does not fill in the required formalities. Not only is changing a sales agreement with certain terms and conditions midway the waiting period frowned upon, in many cases, but it’s also downright illegal, as then it counts as selling under false pretenses.

Those customers who file complaints to recuperate the extra costs, will not get any clear replies from the support team. Even though the platform has a Dutch storefront, which promises Dutch support, many clients do not even get replies in Dutch back from the support team. It even gets so ludicrous that clients who are promised to be paid back the fine (not the taxes, even though these are also calculated on the fine), simply do not hear anything after waiting much longer than the promised payback period. It even gets to the point, when asking for an update for the reimbursement, that Zavvi suddenly requests to receive a PayPal account, instead of paying it back to the customer via their original payment method. Then the customer is once again promised a certain payback date, to never actually receive their money. We have received several mailings from members of different collectors groups, which highlight the aforementioned business practices. Order cancellations are also currently not being processed within the promised payback times.

We have reached out to Zavvi several times for a statement, only to be answered by a totally different team member for every message, never actually replying to our request for a statement.

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