"Coping With the Value Added Tax" by Peter Greenberg (June 15) was of special interest to me. How right Greenberg is. In the U.K., several places away from London didn't have the required forms and there wasn't any time to wait and wonder, so I wandered off, marking them as the usual losses in traveling.
It therefore came as a great surprise when, in a small town in Scotland, despite the shortage of time I found some delightful bargains in cashmeres. The needed VAT forms were immediately produced by a couple of gracious salesgirls, who helped me fill them out and deposited them for me for prompt handling. I received a substantial check just three months later, together with a note of thanks for my patronage.
In Munich I shopped in what is presumably a counterpart of Harrod's at the Marienplatz facing the Glockenspiel. The store gave me the forms, with detailed instructions on what to do at the airport and to contact them again if there were any problems. And there were. A customs official at the airport ordered me, in impeccable English, to produce the items purchased (which were in my suitcase) for him to examine. Rather than get involved in a prolonged argument, I wrote to the shop on my return home. The answer, addressed to Herr Terzian in German, requests the forms which I've already supplied. Next stop will be the German consulate or a German travel agency just to see what could be done at this point. I'm indebted to Greenberg's article for this reminder.