“We’re not doing anything illegal!” cries Starbucks. No, but you are completely immoral!
This isn’t about “protectionism”, it’s about fairness. A quintessentially British value like playing by the rules or sportsmanship.
Paying rents equivalent to 25% of your turnover is immoral if it means you don’t pay any tax here. Do you know why it’s such a high proportion of your turnover? It’s because you don’t make enough turnover you immoral bastards.
Who in their right minds would deliberately pay such a high proportion of turnover? It’s almost like you thought you might sell more coffee! But you didn’t, did you? You didn’t want to pay any tax, so you immorally signed for leases that you knew were going to destroy your profit margins.
So then you think you can pretend that your brand is worth paying for? Of course it isn’t. Why would you want to compensate the owners of the business for a globally recognisable brand.
To prove the point, I’m going to open a coffee shop called Costa (I’m not stupid, I don’t want a bunch of ignorant oiks trying to intimidate me if I name it Starbucks), and let them sue me. I will admit guilt and let the judge decide the level of damages.
If I’m more than a tenner out of pocket, I’ll be amazed.
That’s because brands are worthless. What, do you think we’re all stupid and just go into somewhere because we know what to expect? No, we like uncertainty when it comes to paying with our cash.
When I want something to drink, I walk into the nearest shop and demand a drink. If they can satisfy my request, I pay them whatever they want.
I do it with everything.
I was once served a ham sandwich in a jewellers, for which they charged me fifty pounds. I have tried to avoid getting hungry near that jewellers ever since.
That’s what real people are like, Starbucks. They don’t trust a brand in the same way that people don’t blindly trust their political party or follow a football club all their lives.
People don’t behave in a tribal mob like fashion, simply following the crowd. I mean, look at all the people telling you that’s not what happens. How can you disagree?
So, even though we shouldn’t pick you out from every other business that pays for “intellectual property”, we’re going to. Yes, pretty much every multi national business does it, and even those who don’t, have to consider whether they should under transfer pricing rules (well, the UK does have a lower tax rate than other countries – foreign tax authorities aren’t going to let that one slide).
But you, Starbucks, have the audacity to make a loss. We don’t care about McDonalds or Burger King doing it because they make a profit and pay a bit of tax. And Wimpy was shit!
(Though I did like the ice cream thing with a doughnut in it. That was good.)
It may be immoral to pick out one company and attack them for the laws not behaving like we thought they did, but it’s not illegal. And you’re not from round here.