Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Shopping in Paris/Rome and my VAT refund experience

**Update** I had my refund back to my credit card 6 weeks later
As promised – today, I am going to briefly talk about my shopping adventure in Europe as well as getting my tax refund at FCO airport. A couple of months prior to the trip, I sold my Chanel jumbo flap because it wasn't a good fit for me. My plan was to get a medium size as a replacement and loved the idea of getting one at Rue Cambon. 3 weeks prior to the trip, I contacted the Rue Cambon boutique as well as the Avenue Montaigne boutique but had no luck. Due to the rumors about Chanel price increase, classic flaps sell out very quickly. Rumors turned out to be true. Chanel boy flaps, classic flaps and Chanel WOC's have gone up 20% across Europe as of 04/08. I checked back with both boutiques regularly and still had no luck. I then settled for a pre-owned one and couldn't be more thrilled. BTW, I have the contact email of both boutiques and am happy to share them with anyone interested.

Although the hunt for my replacement was over, I still wanted to visit the Chanel flagship boutique just for the experience. On the other hand, my sister in law was interested in getting her first Chanel bag and has asked me to look for one. We went to the Rue Cambon boutique and there wasn't a classic bag in sight (only seasonal styles/colors were available). I waited 15 minutes for a sales associate. She showed me a few bags but they were not even close to what my sister was looking for. We left the store empty-handed. We then walked around the area and stumbled upon another Chanel boutique on Rue Royal which isn't very far from the 1st one. This one is significant smaller than the original boutique. I caught a glimpse of a black bag out of the corner of my eye and decided to go in. I quickly realized that this bag is pretty close to what my sister was looking for. A sales associate greeted us and started gushing over the bag. She said this is a cross between a classic flap and a boy flap and suitable for a petite. Perfect! I took a few pictures and sent them to my sister. However, after 3 tries, they didn't go through and I finally gave up. My husband and I had a brief discussion and decided to purchase the bag anyway. We both love it so much and were confident that she would love it too. As soon as we got back to the hotel, I tried again and finally got a text from her saying that she loves the bag (style code A90810). Whew! You can buy the bigger size here in red. The bag is available in black/beige/gray and made out of calfskin. As you can tell from the side by side comparison, these two sizes are incredibly similar. The bag is truly perfect on her. Mission accomplished if you ask me =)


My SA was very kind and helpful. There is also a dedicated cashier who helped me with my VAT refund (value added tax). This is when you have to decide between cash (10.5%) or credit card (13%) refund. I decided to have my refund back to my credit card. You can learn more about how to claim VAT refunds here. I did tons of research before the trip because I wanted to thoroughly understand the process. In general, you would claim your refund in the last Europe country on your itinerary. For us, that would be Rome. We woke up super early and headed to the airport in preparation for the long line. We arrived at the airport 3 hours prior to our departure. After getting our boarding passes, I asked the attendant where to get my form stamped. He said go to the right to get my form stamped then go to the left to drop the form off. I don't know if I am lucky or not but there was absolutely no line at either of the stations. The whole process literally took less than 5 minutes. I showed the attendant the bag (still wrapped up in tissue paper) and she didn't even look at it. She flipped it around once and said OK, you're good! My husband and I laughed so hard because we were overly prepared


We now had almost 3 hours to kill at the airport and decided to walk around the shops at the airport. It’s dangerous I know! I stopped by Hermes, Dior and a few other stores but didn't purchase anything. I originally wanted a Chanel brooch as a souvenir but didn't find anything that worth buying. As we walked around, I saw a Valentino boutique and decided to pop in. I have always wanted a pair but couldn't bring myself to pay the price tag for something so trendy. I was curious about the different in price and couldn't believe my ears when he said €583. Due to euro being so weak, it's like getting these shoes for almost half off. For reference, the Noir version (as seen here) is €583 vs $1095. The classic version is $525 vs $995. Note: If you make a purchase inside the terminal, they'll take the tax off automatically.


As we continued to walk about, my husband also found a wallet for himself. He’s been looking for a new wallet for months and thought this wallet fit exactly what he was looking for. My husband is someone who appreciates well-made items but not necessarily into designer labels. This wallet is his very first designer item. Along with a subtle logo, the wallet itself is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship. Sorry for a super long post but I hope you find it somewhat entertaining. I am in no way, shape or form bragging or showing off. As someone who is interested in luxury items, I find this kind of stuff interesting, fascinating and helpful. Before the trip, I spent a decent amount of time on the Purse Forum and really appreciate the information they posted. I hope to provide a bit of useful information to those who share the same interest.


Anonymous said...

I find your posts about this Europe trip are very helpful since I'm planning for mine in a few months. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for such a helpful post! I'll be heading to Paris at the end of May, so I'm bummed about the price increase. I was debating if it was worth it give the stores a call first, as I heard that they can't put items on hold anyway. It would be fun to hit up all of the Chanels anyway!

Unknown said...

these accessories are all match early.....

gbridal - women blog

Ms Tran said...

Nice shoes! Did you have to pay duty when you came back to the US? Btw, like you i was hunting down a chanel classic flap in Paris in early April and failed miserably because of the price harmonization, all classic bags were all sold out months before i got there.

Sydney's Fashion Diary said...

@Ms Tran Hi there, I didn't have to pay duty when I came back to the US. At this rate, you might want to look into some preowned options =)