I have given a tremendous amount of thought to how I can keep my business running without breaking the law once this EU VAT nightmare kicks in. I can't stop selling PDF patterns as some others are doing because the patterns form such a large part of how I make my living, and I can't sell through another platform because my margins are already too tight, but I am equally unable to comply with the ridiculous new legislation when I work on such a small scale. Therefore I have hit upon a compromise which will, I hope, cause the least disruption for the most people. It is worth noting for the record, however, that I am not at all happy about it, because it will make things more difficult for me and for a fair few of you too. I'm really sorry about that. I am hoping that eventually the EU will adapt the legislation to protect the smallest sellers like me, and our buyers in the EU, but at least for the short term this is how I need to do things:
From 1st January 2015 anybody based in any EU member state other than the UK will not be able to use my automatic delivery system when ordering PDF patterns. My EU customers will still be able to buy any of my PDF patterns, but I will need to deliver them manually (either as an attachment in an email or by using a file transfer system, depending on the number and size of the patterns you order). The exact set-up has still to be confirmed, but it will likely include EU-specific pattern listings in my shop; the regular ones will only allow you to checkout if you are outside of the EU. This obviously means that for those of you in the EU, delivery times will be significantly slower as I will essentially need to treat PDF patterns just like physical products, with delivery times being up to 2 working days (though often sooner if I am free), and delivery will not be available when I am away or on holiday or if the shop is closed for any other reason.
This change is necessary because, stupidly, the new rules cover any patterns delivered to customers in the EU by an automatic system, but not patterns delivered manually by me personally. Even though the products are identical. Ridiculous? I know. The rules were made by an ignorant bunch of buffoons who appear never to have bought anything online, especially from an independent seller.
For my customers in the UK and in any other non-EU country, business will continue as usual, with PDF patterns being delivered immediately after checkout by my automatic delivery system.
Orders for any physical products (books, kits, etc.) are not affected, so you can continue to order those from anywhere (including the EU) as usual.
I am truly sorry to make things slower and clunkier for my EU customers, especially when some of you have been my biggest supporters right from the start. It makes me angry every time I think about it because the EU is meant to encourage free trade, but this legislation has ended up doing completely the opposite.
This temporary measure will only work for as long as the new rules apply solely to digital products (or until I can't keep up with sending all of my EU orders out individually any more). Once the Government spreads the net to include physical products too, which they are planning to do as soon as 2016, then we are all stuffed.
If you are unhappy about these changes (as I am... can you tell?), then please help us to try and overturn the decision. There is a petition that you can sign, a Twitterstorm planned for tomorrow (Tuesday 16th December 2014) and any letters that you can write to your local MPs and MEPs will be a huge help. All of the information you need can be found through the links below. We especially need people in other EU member states besides the UK to kick up a fuss, because currently it is pretty much just us in the UK fighting against the ruling, and on our own we have no hope of overturning it. Therefore may I offer a heartfelt plea to any of my lovely EU customers who will be affected by this: please, please get involved and help us to protect this amazing circle of independent makers and buyers who could be flattened by this legislation.
#EUVAT Twitterstorm Essential Info: http://euvataction.org/2014/12/14/twitterstorm-essential-info/
EU VAT Action Website: http://euvataction.org/
Thank you so much for your patience in putting up with all of this nonsense. I hope very soon to return to spending my time creating spangly new things for you instead of getting tangled up in red tape!
If I don't make it back here beforehand, I wish you all the most wonderful Christmas and look forward to enjoying a spectacular 2015 with you!