back to article Apple blocks cheaper UK iPod sales

Apple is threatening legal action against 11 UK e-tailers unless they stop selling iPods imported from outside the UK. The computer giant has complained to a number of well-known online retailers which were buying iPods in the US – where they sell for £15 less than the UK– and then selling them at a knocked-down price to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just charge the same price for the same product in each market instead of trying to rip consumers off.

  2. Bob

    Ownership Rights

    It's a longstanding legal principle that if you buy something, you now own it and can resell it. I find it hard to believe that Apple could actually prevail in court in this battle. Even if they do, they won't stop the million-and-one iPond resellers on eBay.

    It would seem a more likely outcome would be for Apple to cut off these retailers from its official distribution network. Or maybe they'll find a way to design iPods that don't work on iTunes running from Europe.

  3. Andy

    For once, I agree

    I'm an Apple "fanboy" (retarded word).

    Apple aren't exactly alone in this - every company under the sun does it - but I am of the strongly-held belief that customers should not ever be charged a premium for imported goods, over the bare costs involved in transportation and duties.

    We are constantly told that duty and transport etc. are the reason for the differences, but this has time and time again been shown to be simply a lie - particularly, the advent of the internet and purely digital sales demonstrates this, for example in the music world (which I think stems mainly from record companies' greed, and only secondarily from that of retailers).

    There is little consumers can do against, essentially, an unwritten agreement between all vendors, and we should be protected by our governments. There can be no excuse for prices which are consistently higher in particular countries, both measured by exchange rates and percentage of average post-tax annual income.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    @Charlie - Will it stand up in court

    I agree with you, but I can't see it as a valid legal defence.

    "I put it to you, m'lud, that the accused is in fact a c**t."

    Never saw that on an episode of Crown Court.

  5. g e

    Yeah Charlie

    They are. Greedy c**ts at that too. If you get the ist of the Apple-related press over the last year it's all about releasing overpriced stuff, raping the early adopters and then dropping the prices; then there's the substandard 'true colour' displays and their browbeating of anyone doing anything they don't approve of.

    In fact Apple seem more and more like scientologists with each passing day...

  6. Jamie Cole


    So let me get this straight... Companies love globalisation and having huge cross border businesses, but when the consumer attempts to reap the benefits they are told they can't?

    It seems Apple want to have their cake and eat it too: benefit from cheap staff and human rights abuses to get products made cheaply, but also to artificially raise prices in some territories for the sake of profit.

    What gives?! Stuff like this really makes my blood boil.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about eBay?

    There's usually plenty of cheap iPods on there, are they going to do anything about the big companies or just jump on the small e-tailers?

  8. Steve Kay
    Thumb Down

    @Charlie Clark

    Gotta say, sir - your subject line is most succinct, and I can't help but agree with you.

  9. Aodhhan

    Good business

    Isn't it just good business to find the middle man with the lowest prices so you can increase your profits?

    Apple... get over yourself. A sale is a sale. All those who purchase these gray Ipods are bound to end up purchasing songs on Itunes (until they learn how to beat DRM and hit P2P sites).

    If someone isn't allowed to purchase these items from a middle man in the USA, then why should any company in the UK be able to purchase any product from the USA? Making a big deal about the 3rd person is just stupid.

  10. Edwin

    "price-fixing the market"?

    Of course apple is price-fixing the market.

    The problem is that they want a highly-desirable product (well, to some people anyway) and they want to earn a ton of cash on it by fixing prices.

    The iPhone uses a stupid business model (does that make Apple modeltards?) but Apple has enough fans that people will buy anyway (Stevetards? Iphonetards? Appletards? Apple tarts?), but that doesn't mean they're willing to play the game by Apple's marketing concept...

    €1 says there'll be an apple fanbois on shortly to defend Steve

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    App£€ in money-grabbing corporate scumbag shocker!, who'd have thunk it?

    *boo-hoo* How could you do it to us Stevie? *sob* We thought u was our kewlest bestest fwend.... *waaaaahhhhhh*


  12. vincent himpe

    @andy ( and others )

    Yes there is a solution. Ok, you can not complain if the difference would be 2 or 3 pounds. but 15 pounds ? i NOBODY buys one simply because o fthis price difference then apple will have to drop its prices. It's as simple as that.

    Besides . these ipods , iphone and other things are like crack.. you buy one , 6 mopnths later a new model comes along and you buy that one , and then you also want a shuffle or mini ...

    i don't have one and i'm not the least tempted to buy one either. if i listen to music it's through a roku soundbridge. I can listen to music from over 5000 stations. all for free.

    My favorite song would have been 'the sound of silence' .. The title seemed atttractive and then i found out that someone is actually siging and making noise.. that was a bummer...

    I prefer listen to the birds singing every morning instead of blasting my ears with what seems to me like someone milking a cat using pliers or someone with a speech impediment

  13. Magnus

    Should be the benefits of globalisation at work

    But no, if it is good for consumers rather than companies...

    Companies have gotten too used to being able to isolate individual countries and maximise their profits by doing so. They should get used to the fact that customers won't let them get away with that for much longer.

    If duties or transport was the issue than all these resellers would not be able to make any money...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    > Ownership Rights

    Thats true over buying and selling something - the makers usually win by claiming the copyright on the name.

    So you can legally sell an iPod in the UK but not use the name iPod.

    That's how levi got Asda to stop selling jeans cheap.

  15. Darren Lovell
    Jobs Horns

    I'm sure Apple will get their way...

    ...not that I agree with it.

    Didn't Sony get that injunction against European importers buying in Japanese/North American PS3s when they were first released about 4 months before the PAL-spec PS3 would be released?

    I think Sony's argument was on grounds of Europeans "not getting adequate quality" with grey imports.

    Apple will probably come up with some other bullshit argument and win the injunction.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rip off Britain, not an EU problem

    It's a UK only problem, you can import goods into the EU freely, however the UK uses copyright law to say that importing goods in parallel to an official distributor is a copyright violation (I'm not making this up, Blair was smoozed by the music industry and so he put this idiocy into law).

    Also a trade mark ruling prevented Tescos from importing cheap levis from outside the EU because Levi's UK said it infringed their trademark. (Again not kidding, a Judge decided it made sense that the UK should pay more for everything than everyone in the rest of the world because it would affect Levi UK profit margins).

    So the problem is in the UK. EU Court of justice has said it cannot interfere because it's not a dispute between EEA countries, the goods came from outside the EU.

    However, if you imported goods from outside the EU into another EU Country, then sold them across Europe, including the UK, at that point the EU Court of Justice could strike down the UK Blair barrier to free trade. Can't just be a trick to get around the UK, you'd have to sell it across Europe, a genuine multi-eu-state business.

    But really the fix is for the UK to fix it's own laws. It makes no sense to force UK to pay more for goods by barring parallel imports. It's just rip off Britain. You pay more, it makes you less competitive, you fall behind.

  17. Bleak Outlook

    Best Comment Ever

    @ Charlie Clark

    Everything that needed saying has been said

  18. Darren Hubbard

    Levi's all over again

    They probably will win on the basis they can control sale of their trademark... Levi's managed this when they went up against the collective might of Asda (Walmart) and Tesco...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Apple - Greedy Bas****s

    Apple make quality kit but there is no need for this kind of behaviour from a multi-million dollar corporation. Somple message really if your going to buy an Ipod, buy it from the states and import it yourself!

  20. Alex

    Tesco / Levi

    Unfortunately they'll get away with this -

  21. Mectron

    Qho buy this junk in the 1st place?

    iPod is very low quality (as reported on the net) junk mp3 player, even with at reduce price, it is still overprice. But Apple business model is based on ripping of consumers, so no suprise here that Apple want to protect the only cash cow keeping it alive,

  22. Henry Cobb

    Pity the EU isn't a free market

    If only you chaps would have a free market in the EU then other vendors could move in with competitive products and undercut Apple's prices in any walled off market until the prices in each market were equal.

    But the iPod is not sold as a MP3 player, it is sold as an iTunes access device and Apple does not allow any other companies to make such.

    All I can do is appeal to that good European, St Columba: Patron Saint of File-Sharing to save us from poisoned apples.


    I still buy all of my music on CDs and no, it isn't yet time for a love revolution it seems...

  23. angela edwards

    price fixing again in the uk NO NEVER!!

    here we go again charged 20% more for exact same product in the uk. Are the people in china paid any more for making the ones destined for the uk market DOUBT THAT VERY MUCH so whats the difference apple?

  24. Aditya Krishnan
    Paris Hilton


    What transport charges? The back of my Shuffle says it was made in China (designed by Apple in California, it seems). Last time i checked, ol' Blighty was a damn sight closer to China than to the USA.. it should cost LESS here..

    Paris, cos I wouldn't mind paying her transport charges...

    Why can't we have a dual iHate/Paris icon?

  25. Eponymous Howard


    Yes, yes, you are very grown up. We are all very impressed.

    @ bob - this isn't about buying stuff, but selling it. Look up Levi Strauss vs Tesco.

  26. Jared Earle

    Grey Market

    Ah, Grey Markets. What fun they are.

    Apple are far from alone in this as everyone does it, but I am getting tired of every company charging a You-live-in-the-UK tax.

    The usual way companies deal with this is by refusing to honour out-of-region warranties based on serial numbers, which is why you'll see grey Omegas and Rolexes in the US sold brand new with filed-down serials. It's a laugh, innit.

  27. J
    Black Helicopters


    Only 15 quid less? Given other examples I usually see at this site, I'd think it would be way more...

    While we're at it, as someone said above, Apple is not alone in fixing prices, it seems to me. I'm looking for a PS3 to take home to a cousin, and they ask $399 for it *everywhere* (Googling for it shows a bunch of cheaper prices from completely unknown "store"... given the situation I've seen when shopping for photo equipment, I wouldn't consider those as legit). Where's the competition? Predatory capitalism at its best, no? Or are these guys' margins so slim that nobody can lower the price (I doubt that, but who knows)?

    Anyway, justice is not about what's just, it's about who can pay for their favorite outcome, so I'm afraid this one is not gonna end well for the little guys...

  28. Paul Hatch

    Blame the EU

    Sadly Apple has the weight of EU law behind them, remember the cheap Levis in tesco?

    EU law actually protects company distribution rights etc. Under EU law it is ok for a retailer to source goods from elsewhere within the EU but not parallel import from outside the EU.

    Companies will say that it is to protect their regional licensing deals and they do exploit the situ by charging the maximum each market will bear.

    The EU on the other hand seems happy to go along with it as they milk the consumer too, as their high taxes (vat, fuel, imcome taxes and import duties, property taxes etc) make EU retail prices uncompetitive anyway and so the EU governments put their snouts in the same corporate trough to protect their own tax revenue streams. The only loser is the consumer.

  29. jai

    what's the difference?

    isn't this exactly what Sony did when they stopped the places like lik-sang from exporting games and consoles from hong kong to the uk

    we, the customers, may not like it, but in a capitalist society, the corporations will get their way

  30. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Not unique to Apple

    >As long as duty is paid on the items there is nothing to prevent this. Hope Apple get >done for restrictive practice.

    Court cases have been held over other grey import cases such as Levis. Levis won and proved that grey imports are illegal.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Levis versus Tescos

    ITs true that since they got Tesco's and Asda, you can no longer buy cheaper Brand Name jeans in these supermarkets.

    But you can now buy a pair of jeans for about £5-£10 in these establishments so you never have to walk the high street and be tempted into buying a pair of expensive jeans. Fifty quid for a pair of jeans - why bother when you can pick them up with your weekly shop and it doesn't matter if the cat slepes on them.

  32. Steven Pepperell

    @Ownership Rights

    should'nt that be iPawned

  33. Phill Holland

    its what they do

    Apple have always charged a premium for their products. I remember a simular story about top end cars, the price was reduced and they wern't selling anymore because nobody believed you could get a good quaility product for that price. It didn't even matter if the cars were any good anyway, what mattered was the perceived value by the consumer.

    You do pay a premium for the "design" of Apples stuff, even if you ignore the added importation fees they put on top of their products into the UK. Quite frankly some of their stuff is overpriced and can be made cheaper and better by other manufacturers; well ignoring certain patents ;-)

    I was recently shopping for a new MP3 player, and you visit all the high street shops and chains only too discover that the same model of ipod costs the same in any shop. I think the price fixing accusation is valid. If you are capable of providing the same product for cheaper you should be allowed to do so, the competition is heathly and natural for any business.

    and another thing, don't get on the pricing model for the iphone. thats a bloody rip-off in any language no matter how you add the numbers up.

  34. Andy

    Ok, commenters - where do you get off...

    ... making this all about Apple? This is a specific example an industry-wide problem that needs dealing with. It's the kind of petty, small-minded idiocy that's being displayed here that prevents the system being fixed.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    UK legislation is as bent as a nine bob bit! It's that simple. These grey importing rules allow nothing more than price fixing, as is clear by virtue of the fact that the prices *can* be made cheaper.

    No doubt they'll be using the same legislation Sony ended up bumming Lik Sang with in the high court.

    That this legislation exists is nothing short of a disgrace, and is only used as an excuse to maintain overly high prices.

    Once again, EU customers get a bum deal... exactly what are all these euro-politicians doing again?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Charlie Clark

    It'll be the same legislation re:parallel importing used by Sony to give Lik Sang a good shagging. Apple will win, without doubt.

    It does raise the question of why this legislation exists in the first place, it's only purpose is to allow price fixing within the EU.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rip off Britain, not an EU problem (Tesco/Levi)

    It was an EU Court decision so it's EU wide, and trademark not copyright law.

    Still wrong though, free the trade.

    The thing to do here, is to boycott Apple until they get their act together, I know I will.

  38. Steve Skipper
    Gates Halo

    Hope they FAIL

    They move their manufacturing operation to China, a market that plays by different rules to the West but they Don't like it when the consumer does a similar thing by exploiting different markets.

    BTW top comment by Charlie Clark.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Start a petition?

    we should start an e-petition at downing street about it

  40. TranceMist

    Thanks for the publicity, Apple

    Now more people will know that they can be had for less.

  41. Anonymous Coward

    It's true that it's not Apple that are to blame

    It's the UK. The UK has a 'premium' that you don't get in Europe, that you don't get most other countries. It's crazy, the international prices on 95% of popular electronic appliances, computers, or computer peripherals even when converted from Euros/USD/etc to GBP are almost always anywhere from partially to significantly lower. Apple is just doing the same as what every other major company in the UK who has anything to sell is doing, it's just business. Grey Market stuff never the less still seems to be quite readily available from Tottenham Crt Rd / Oxford St stores though!

  42. Tom Kelsall

    I'll not be buying another iPod anyway...

    I don't want to "Sync" my music with my computer, or buy it through iTunes... I just want to select a bunch of MP3's from my PC (HOWEVER I obtained them), drag them onto my player, and go. I don't need software; I just need an OS and a USB storage driver.

    iPod is shit and I'm afraid I learnt that the hard way.

  43. Steve

    Waaa Waaa

    Get a grip, just buy something else!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @Aditya Krishnan

    "Last time i checked, ol' Blighty was a damn sight closer to China than to the USA.. it should cost LESS here.."

    you need to check your globe.... remember Columbus? he proved the world is round!

    traveling east to west, yeah, the UK is closer, but there is no reason why you cant travel east from china and get to the usa that way.... its a lot shorter !!!

  45. Dave Harris


    Sounds like this is made for Creative to jump all over, maybe do some corrective work for their name after their recent fuckup (proud and happy owner of a Zen for 4 years).

    Donds for Charlie Clark

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Price fixing

    It's price fixing and it should be illegal.

    Companies are allowed to exploit cheap labour and resources to keep prices down.

    They are allowed to sell the products cheapily in one country and then expensively in another but consumers arn't allowed to source goods from these cheaper regions - and neither are enterprising individuals who run "grey" market businesses (back in the day I'm pretty sure it was called a free market - but whatever.)

    It's just plain faced price fixing, and they all do it.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Next Apple Takeover

    Maybe the next little Tech business Apple should buy is one that makes airport scanners. I'm off to the States in May and how's Beardy Steve going to stop me from filling my suitcase?

    Does he know that those little boxes the Nano comes in (that are too small to get a power adapter or software in) are just ideal for mass trans-atlantic transport?

    I'll stop the boxes getting scratched by wrapping them in my new Levis or tucking them inside my new Nike trainers.

    £200 gets you over the Atlantic. They must think we're f***ing idiots. They're probably right.

  48. Daniel B.

    Pricing over borders

    Isn't this basically what happens worldwide? Try passing to Mexico from the US border, there are random checks in place, not checking for guns, ammo or drugs but ... grey imports. Despite the Mexican economy being of lower income/expense than the US, usually tech stuff is 2x or 3x higher up the US retail price. When the PS3 came out, the price tag was MXN$ 13,000 (about 1250 USD) which made Mexico the country where the PS3 had the highest price tag WORLDWIDE. Yes, even more than Blighty or Denmark. Ow.

    Point in case: the iPhone's being announced with a MXN 7,700 price tag (USD 700) so go figure. Grey imports, locally known as "fayuca" are highly profitable because of this, and MercadoLibre (the Latin American eBay) is basically full of these imports.

    Of course, the big businesses don't like this border-crossing trade and always will try to shut it down; hence the DVD and BD regions which nicely cut off convenient areas: Region 1 is "North America" but it excludes Mexico, which is pegged in Region 4. Of course, region-free and/or Region 1 players became commonplace, and business returned to usual.

    Apple isn't alone in this, its the entire goods industry!

  49. Jonathan Lancaster

    @Paul Hatch

    "they do exploit the situ by charging the maximum each market will bear."

    Indeed- and this is the trouble we face- in spite of how much it pisses us all off, enough people go out and buy this crap all the same for it to make sense for them to charge so much extra.

    Just to counterpoint the comments annoyed at parallel import/price differentiation, there are some plus sides to the rules, too (although I don't see how they apply in the case of iPods and Levi jeans). HIV drugs are often a lot cheaper in developing nations than in the west- the price disparity is not pure profit for the GSK; the western price reflects the millions (billions?) of dollars spent on research. Developing nations couldn't afford that price, so it benefits everyone to lower it for them (GSK get some extra income, Africans get HIV drugs). This is price differentiation that benefits society as a whole- I certainly wouldn't want a situation that effectively forced drug companies from supplying discounted drugs to these countries because they'd just get sold on to profit hungry HMOs in the west.

  50. Julian Whitehead
    Thumb Down

    Ironic now that CWH and O2 have run out of 8GB iPhones...

    This nicely ironic after O2 and CWH slashed the price of the iPhone by £100 as a result they have run out...

    Apple have always adopted a strange business model - which is why most of us are typing comments on a PC - probably running Windows or maybe Linux though unlikely.

    I once challenged Adobe at an education show about their pricing policy in the UK, after much opening and shutting of mouth by the lovely saleslady, I was asked to leave the stand (once I had removed as many of their promotional items as possible).

    Face it guys rip-off Britain is here to stay, and while we are subserviant to the EU (and I like the EU mostly), this will continue. Maybe we should be more like the French who seem to ignore the bits they don't like, strike about the bits they hate and take on board the bits they like...

  51. Joey

    Price parity

    Before you can compare prices in the USA and the UK, you have to level the playing field. I'm am surprised that people here are only looking at the bottom line.

    First of all, there is import duty. Okay, you can avoid paying import duty by sneaking things in. Blame UK for this, not the manufacturer.

    VAT at 17.5%. This varies from one EU country to another - why, I can't explain, but it is not charged the USA. Not the fault of the manufacturer.

    Warranty. In the USA, it is 90 days. In the UK, it is one year by law. Again not the fault of the manufacturer.

    Advertising and marketing. It is more efficient to do this in a big country than a smaller one.

    Sales volume. Higher volume (USA) means cheaper prices.

    When you take all these things into consideration, the price difference is not so great. Expecting price parity in the UK and USA is unrealistic.

  52. Roland Newmark


    They know they can get away with it because of all the iTards out there. iTards will buy it even if they are making 20% more in their region because they need to have the status symbol. Instead of them complaining with their mouths complain with your wallets and then Stevy will hear you. They've become the MS of the music player biz...

  53. b166er

    I wonder

    what happened to Levi's sales after the Tesco thing. I bet they dropped, what with much cheaper decent jeans available from convenient outlets like supermarkets.

    Same will happen to Apple to, here's hoping the cunt shot itself in the foot.

  54. Herby

    We used to have this here in the USA

    It was called "fair trade". The manufacturer set "minimum price" that something could be sold at. Several states had a corresponding law. Of course some states didn't, and in those states things (I remember Sony TVs at one point) were cheaper there. Then we had a lawyer involved. It went all the way to the Supremes in DC. Law overturned. No free trade. Now we just have "minimum advertised price", which you see sometimes. Then places like Amazon have "click here for best price", which gets around this (ask for the good price then it isn't advertised!).

    So, there will always be ways to get around "restrictions". When there is a will, there is always a way!

  55. Mad Hacker

    Sony did the same thing with PSP importers

    I don't understand how it is legal but it appears to be a government supported behavior.

  56. Gareth Potter


    Bit disappointing, this. Still, it's typical of rip-off Britain. Remember Tesco selling Levis jeans at American prices? They soon put a stop to that...

    One other thing – hate to nitpick, but an undertaking is a guarantee, not, say, an injunction or some other demand to cease doing something, so Messrs Bird & Bird can't be issuing undertakings demanding these retailers stop selling "grey iPods".

    I'll get my coat. For being the local pe'dant (sic).

  57. Colin Wilson

    CD-WOW was also stung by this crap

    Which is where it all gets silly - you could buy legitimately from their Hong Kong site (not the UK site) but they were still done under the trade laws for grey imports - although the goods were legal in the place of purchase, paid for "at" that location (at least, that's where card payments were taken) and available for purchase via the internet from other territories.

    These silly restrictions only appear to apply to large vendors though - I can still buy DVDs from (albeit typically region 3 only) for buttons.

  58. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    @Eponymous Howard

    Yes "restrictive practice" is a pretty big word, isn't it?

    Didn't stop the French and German courts from jumping all over Stevie's idea of fair trade. Cue irrelevant remarks about UK leaders prepared to do anything the US wishes...

    Now, get with it you fuckwit! ;-)

    @Joey: two years' warranty in the EU but "your statutory rights are not affected". If you buy from any retailer in the EU then you get two years' warranty and the seller is liable. Although, in reality after the first six months' statutory guarantee it is usually pretty hard to prove defects. Says the man who recently had to get the fan in his not-yet-two-years-old McBook replaced at his own expense. I love Mac OS X but wish they would bring back the clones so those of us who want to get some work done don't have to pay as much as the fashion victims: Asus EEEEEEEEEE with Mac OS X, anyone?

    @everyone: Of course, the real story is that we're no longer buying the iMplants (like what I did there?) in droves so Stevie is out to maximise his profits and not piss off his partners more than he already has (T-Mobile, o2, etc. will not be paying *that* much for exclusivity again).

    @El Reg: you can't rely on me for the vitriol. Bring back King Otto!!!

  59. kain preacher

    @Phill Holland

    "I was recently shopping for a new MP3 player, and you visit all the high street shops and chains only too discover that the same model of ipod costs the same in any shop. I think the price fixing accusation is valid. If you are capable of providing the same product for cheaper you should be allowed to do so, the competition is heathly and natural for any business"

    Since every one likes using son as an example lets continue.

    Here in the States sony has an MSR. Any company that sells below MSR will find thier sony shipments slow, and a huge lag time between other retailers when new products ship.

  60. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    In another country

    In another country , in a sun burnt land called Oz , that is defined as illegal trade restrictions and the courts have duly defined it thus !

    It makes you wonder why Oz is slated to get the first legally unlocked Iphoney with 3g no less from a infamous company that appropriated another logo to call it their own and is known to empty the fan boys wallet and credit at the same time ?

    Some people are just not as thick or act like brainless sheep as others of the one in twenty five minority do although given the new mobile phone sales volumes it would be extremely lucky to hit one in ten thousand !

  61. Gordon
    Jobs Horns

    iPods are cheaper in the UK than the rest of the EU!

    My younger sister is looking to by an iPod, we found the 80GB ones being sold on the UK store for £159. Converting this to € it comes out at €201.

    Apple, however, won't allow non-UK residents to purchase from the UK store so instead we have to get stung for the IE price of €229.

    Which is a price difference of €28, at today's rates that's £22

    So no, it's not rip-off Britain because they're cheaper in Blighty than anywhere else in the EU. The problem is solely down to Apple being allowed to regionalise their selling (even in the EU, which is supposed to be a single market).

  62. marc

    Tesco's did this with Livi Jeans

    Can't remember who won, although I haven't see any Livi's in a tesco store for a long time!

    Maybe we should thank Apple for not doing what the Sony and Microsoft's of this world do... region encode their devices.

    All regional price fixing should be illegal, unless, as in the case of cars for example, they need to be re-engineered

    I got my iPod touch in the US, and after Tax was added the difference in price was about £10.

  63. sleepy

    Exchange rates

    Apple hates to change the price of anything. If it's £99, it's £99. Recently the dollar has weakened against sterling, and sterling has weakened against the Euro. Combined with VAT and duty, this accounts for a large part of the price difference. The rest is just the world standard - everything has to be cheaper in the USA.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Global free trade

    Yep, doesn't exist, not as far as the consumer is concerned.

    But as said, it's not exclusive to Apple. Most big companies are at it. Market segments and all that and attempt to protect those markets wherever they can (i.e. protect the maximum amount of income they can get).

    Laws in countries like the UK allow them to stop grey imports to aid their market protection.

    That combined with (alleged) price fixing between themselves, distributors and retailers in markets and forcing retailers not to export (cd-wow for example), makes it almost akin to a criminal protection racket.

    Thankfully within the EU this practice is outlawed, but the world isn't the EU unfortunately, and the result is companies treat the EU as a premium market to ensure they milk the most out of it as a whole.

    And yet you are legally allowed to buy an iPod in the USA and bring it home with you on the plane.

  65. Danny

    Law in general

    This is the problem with law, and the world in general...its not a case of rights or wrongs, its about who has the most money, the most power and the most influence.

  66. Solomon Grundy

    Consumer Protection

    A major reason for the increased price of electronics in the UK is because of your consumer protection laws. A longer than factory warranty and liability for the merchant has to cost someone because as a product grows older it becomes more expensive to repair or replace, and even though the merchant is responsible to you, the manufacturer is responsible to the merchant (at least reputable manufacturers).

    You people want everything but think it's going to be free. Sorry chaps it doesn't work that way, every law you pass or take part in to "protect yourselves" against merchants only drives your costs up more.

  67. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    @ Columbus proved theworld was round

    he did no such thing! The ancient greeks proved it was round thousands of years ago.

    What Columbus did was try to find a western route to the far east, noone laughed at him for thinking it was round, they laughed at him because he thought the world was less than half the size it is.

    He's damn lucky America was in the way, because he had nowhere near enough food for the trip if it weren't there.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It sucks - but...

    On electronic goods the additional mark-up is largely down to the longer warranties in the EU.

  69. Anonymous Coward

    Folks, get a grip- and a life

    I've purchased several MP3 players for myself and mine and not once have I realistically considered an Apple iPod. They are way too overpriced and quite frankly, the cult just isn't appealing.

    I don't agree with this law but the law of trademarks exists for a reason and that's the way it is until those in the European Union grow some balls.

    Coat, because if I have to travel outside and abroad to save a quid or three, I absolutely will.

  70. Jimbo


    All i can say is stuff them and there crappy practises :D

  71. Ivan Headache

    @ Various

    @ Marc - Levi won.

    @ Gordon - that's probably more to do with recent currency fluctuations than regionalistion.

    @ Heystoopid - I presume (because you don't specify) that you are referring to the logo of a certain record label. If so, please look at said record label and see if it bears any resemblance to a certain computer company's logo (both past and present). It's a fruit - the same fruit - but unfortunately, not the same logo. I presume that you last para refers to the brainless sheep running Oz.

    @ Roland Newmark - have you ever stopped to wonder why it is that the iPod is so successful? - Obviously not as you refer to the owners of the 141,000,000 ipods sold as "iTards" . I presume you must be a zuneTard.

    @ general.. I've just been visiting Hong Kong and comparing prices there with prices here in UK. The 16G Touch is about £200 there compared to £229 here (before VAT) (at current X rates) in the US it's about £201 before tax. I wouldn't say that Britain was a cheaper place to buy - although Costco is now selling the 16G touch at £207 before VAT.

  72. Tim Blair
    Jobs Horns


    with buggyrama clunky itunes and unstable stupid ipods i'll never buy another

  73. Anonymous Coward


    Everyone moans about corporations benefiting from this aspect of capitalism.

    I'm not defending Apple here, but nobody HAS to buy an ipod. If it seems too expensive, don't buy it. Then the price will fall. And I speak as the owner of three ipods.

    It's a bit like an argument I heard from a fireman recently. He was talking about speed cameras and people moaning about them. He gave a justification which is very simple. "If you don't speed, you won't get caught". Simple and infuriatingly true. You might not agree with the cameras, but the law's the law; if you want to drive faster without consequence, elect a politician who'll change things for you.

    The same principle applies here. You only have yourself to blame if what you're buying costs you too much. (If you spend beyond what you can afford, you're an idiot, and good luck getting a mortgage any time soon.)

    Christ, getting older really is ageing me.

  74. Rajib Ghosh
    Jobs Horns

    Anti-Trust Cometh

    Seems Apple is going M$ way. Attempting to maintain absolute monopoly, controlling the free-fair market, forcing retailers to sell products with monopolistic pricing ... ...

    I think the retailers should swallow Apple's arrogance for now and wait for a class-action lawsuit or Anti-Trust Committee investigation. They can make their killing then.

    Best to unite to fight the Goliath; little Davids.

    (You could also try and promote non-apple alternatives).

  75. Brooklyn

    Short Memories

    Loving the response of calling Apple, or Mr Jobs a c**t for his blocking of grey imports, but he;s not the first, and will surely not be the last. It was only two years ago that Sony did the same over sales of the PSP, didn't see anyone calling Ken Kutaragi (sp?) a c**t back then, so what makes this any different? Iirc, M$ have the same policy on software too... But then we all know that Bill Gates is a c**t anyway.

    On a side note, do we win some form of award here for the number of times c**t has been used in response to a reg article?

    /would grab coat, but it's been banned as a grey import :(

  76. David

    € (euro) and £ (sterling) prices

    You're also forgetting that the iPod price will have fluctuated significantly as the £ has plummeted in value against the Euro in recent months yet the price hasn't changed in the UK or Eurozone countries.

    The US$ has ABSOLUTELY noise dived in relation to the Euro in recent months, again the prices in the US haven't really reflected that nor have the EU prices.

    Often suppliers don't change their prices that quickly in response to currency fluctuations.

  77. Ishkandar
    Black Helicopters

    Mom's Apple pie with added cyanide

    @Gordon - So get a Brit friend to buy it for your sister as a prezzie. There is *NO* law against gifts from one person to another (yet ?? Santa had better check this situation carefully; just in case !!) I always gift my French friends with goods (electronic bits and parts) legally bought in UK and they gift me in return with goods (booze and fags) legally bought in France !! Anyone who tries to stop the giving of gifts is going to run into a lot more grief than they can possibly handle !!

    Mine's the one with a pair of Silkworm SAMs, black helicopters, for the downing of !!

  78. James Henstridge

    Re: It's true that it's not Apple that are to blame

    It may be true that UK law allows Apple to be arseholes, but that doesn't change the fact that they are being arseholes.

  79. Ascylto

    Take them to court

    Another Apple fanboy, Kool Aid drinker, whatever ... here.

    If you want to pick a fight with Apple take them to court over the price of the Apple TV ... now that IS a rip-off. The 160Gb has a price premium of more than 80% over the US price, and that's with a generous nominal loading of a 10% US sales tax.

    Such is the scale of thievery on the Apple TV that I will not buy one ... and I have most Apple products.

  80. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    R: Pah

    No, nobody has to buy an iPod. And nobody should be forbidden from selling their iPod no matter where it's been sourced.

    Corporations are quick to outsource our jobs citing a global market.

  81. Mark
    Jobs Horns

    Re: @Charlie - Will it stand up in court

    What if Charlie calls 'em a prick?

    And Levi did the same with Tesco buying foreign jeans. Tesco lost, but as Jamie Cole said and I said at the time, this is a global world and retailers and warehousers should be able to sell to the public grey imports.

    If they are worries that Apple UK won't get the sales and distort the revenues then I'd point them to the outsourcing of work to avoid H&S laws, the outsourcing of income to avoid tax and several similar options that they take upon themselves voluntarily that distort revenues.

  82. Mark
    IT Angle

    Re: Columbus proved theworld was round

    Don't know where this came from, but the arabs had worked it out thousands of years ago, the Mayans had worked that out thousands of years before that merely by looking at the shadow cast by the earth on the moon!

    Alternatively, since there are so many people still believing in the Flat Earth (gotta teach the controversy!), Columbus failed to prove it, otherwise everyone would be thinking it round (or would it be false because so many people believe it?)

  83. Mark

    @Eponymous Howard to bob

    Yes, we KNOW.

    Now, what says that you can not sell what you've bought onward? Nothing.

    So why are Apple telling retailers they cannot sell on iPods they purchased? A distribution license is just needed to sell as a business and the retailers aren't making iPods, so a manufacturing license isn't needed.


  84. Mark


    "Just to counterpoint the comments annoyed at parallel import/price differentiation, there are some plus sides to the rules, too (although I don't see how they apply in the case of iPods and Levi jeans). HIV drugs are often a lot cheaper in developing nations than in the west- the price disparity is not pure profit for the GSK;"

    Have you seen GSK's profit? That's AFTER more is spent on marketing than R&D. Heck, how hard do you have to sell to medicare in the US? To the NHS in the UK? Big purchasers.

    That isn't a counterpoint, it's a stark reveal of why grey imports MUST be allowed: India had to ignore the medical patent to get enough drugs to safeguard the lives of their people. Why? The monopoly price was too high.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Market forces

    As long as airheads, hairdressers, children and fanboys keep buying their stuff, they will keep selling it at whatever prices they want. If you don't like their price, buy something else.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Pah

    "Everyone moans about corporations benefiting from this aspect of capitalism."

    Actualy no, it is not part of capitalism. True capitalism removes all forms of protectonist restrictions.

    The same gose for your argument about Speed camaras. "He gave a justification which is very simple. "If you don't speed, you won't get caught".

    The problem is not the fines. I try not to speed, but I do make mistakes. Thinking it is a 40 limit etc. I made a mistake fine. The Police stop me, I get a telling off and a fine, and learn from that. The problem with Speed Camaras is I dont learn, I just get a letter in the post a week later.

    I got caught by a camara doing 36 in a 30 limit about 6 months back. The local Police offerd me a speed awareness course and no fine or points. It was very good, but I would have preferd a telling off from a Policeman and points though.

  87. Ben Fane

    Levis Jeans

    Dont forget Tesco actualy won the support of the UK government over scenario's like this!!

  88. Anonymous Coward

    Rubbish Consumer Protection

    "A major reason for the increased price of electronics in the UK is because of your consumer protection laws." A longer than factory warranty and liability for the merchant has to cost someone because as a product grows older it becomes more expensive to repair or replace, and even though the merchant is responsible to you, the manufacturer is responsible to the merchant (at least reputable manufacturers)."

    1. In the UK we have some of the worst consumer protection laws in the western world and we are the infamous laggards in the EU. Most EU countries AND several US states have a significant better consumer legislation (e.g. TWO years or more for electronic and electric products).

    2. When it comes to factury warranty (manufacturers warranty - as you refer to 'reputable manufacturers') this on many electronic products is between two and three years and many up to five years.

    3. So the logic goes that by having consumer protection laws in the UK which is below par with both many other countries AND below what reputable manufacturers already do anyway we expect things for free? Sorry but the way things are in the UK at the moment even with reputable manufacturers warranties in place many of the distributors and the retailers do not hesitate to 'forget' about manufacturers warranties and try to sell their customers worthless add on 'warranties'.... Not to mention those companies that conveniently have not noticed that warranties exist at all.

  89. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    IMO the law should be capable of investigating a blatant attempt to distort the market whenever a manufacturer tries to dictate / manipulate what happens to their product after they've sold it. It's a damn cheek, and always has been.

  90. Liam
    Thumb Down


    its an annoying fact that the UK gets screwed more ways than Paris Hilton. Look at the pricing on the adobe website. we wanted the latest creative suite master edition. the price in $$ was less than in ££ - this equated to the product being over double the price in the UK. when i contacted them they said that european releases needed all the language packs doing. my answer was that im english - the product is in english (well americanese anyway) so why the hell was i being charged £800 extra?

    surely something needs to be done. why the hell does the UK pay more for everything?!?!

  91. Trevor Watt

    You Fools!

    Everyone knows that in most cases companies consider £1 = $1 and €1 = $1 and £1 = €1

  92. TeeCee Gold badge
    Jobs Horns


    Er, the Silkworm is a sea-skimming anti-ship missile, not a SAM. You'll not hit any black helicopters with those unless they happen to be parked on a ship* at the time.

    I'm sure that if you have the receipts you can get your money back, unless they were grey imports** of course........

    * or flying very low over water.

    ** gratuitous relevance bit.

  93. Jon Floyd

    Too many precedences set

    Unfortunately the EU and our justice system support the right of manufacturers to restrict the sale of goods intended for one market outside the EU from unauthorised distribution in another. There have been a number of test case on this matter, one famously involving Levis and Tesco This concerned Levi jeans imported from Turkey as I recall.

    Of course this does not stop it being wrong and the only way to stop it is not to by products from manufacturers who adopt this practice, which is just about all...!

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    RE:Solomon Grundy

    A major reason for the increased price of electronics in the UK is because of your consumer protection laws. A longer than factory warranty and liability for the merchant has to cost someone because as a product grows older it becomes more expensive to repair or replace, and even though the merchant is responsible to you, the manufacturer is responsible to the merchant (at least reputable manufacturers).

    You people want everything but think it's going to be free. Sorry chaps it doesn't work that way, every law you pass or take part in to "protect yourselves" against merchants only drives your costs up more.

    So you think it is perfectly acceptable for an expensive item to only have an expected lifespan of 90 days? How does having a 12 month warranty cost the manufacturer any more. The warranty is only applicable to anything that fails due to crap manufacturing, not if you drop it etc. Nothing in the world should be manufactured with only a 3 month life expectancy. If you can't make a product that will last 12 months then you need to go back to the drawing board. No wonder American manufacturing has gone down the toilet.

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why not just buy a different mp3 player, you know the ones without hiss and lo-fi output, that you can copy any file to it without using itunes, and not designed to break in 1 year.

  96. Niall Campbell

    An undertaking...

    Only ever becomes legal if you actually agree and swear to it in a court of law. Until then, it is just another piece of paper. This should not be a bar on any of the 11 e-tailers continuing to trade until Apple actually takes them to court and wins. And that could be....'How long is a piece of string?'

    While I might be classed as a Fanboi, I have to disagree with Apple's stance on this one.

    But then again when the con (ned) sumer is shafted by all the corporations at evry turn, why shouldn't Apple try to bleed as mch as they can out of people?

    Mine's the one with the half-eaten Apple in the pocket

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    same ole same ole...

    Yet again it seems the 'free trade' all these US companies are so big on is NOT for consumers.

    Peter R.

  98. Anonymous Coward

    @ Niall Campbell

    'How long is a piece of string?'

    invariablely 27 inches, but what has that got to do with iPoo's?

  99. asdf

    problem is UK law not US

    Look not to defend Apple or any other US company but they are just playing by the current laws in the UK. If you don't like the laws quit voting for Labour. Its not like in the US where you have a large geographical region (the southeastern) who keep putting the same "pious" corrupt morons in charge. We should have just let them form their own country and accepted bordering two third world countries.

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