back to article Vendors responsible for ‘Aussie Tax’: Choice

Australian consumer group Choice has pointed the bone at vendors for the infamous “Aussie tax”, in a submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into IT Pricing. Having studied the price of software, hardware, downloads and games in the Australian market, Choice has noted that Microsoft seems to want Australian developers to call …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Adding insult -

    this is despite Aussie Dollar strengthening against the greenback too

    1. Veldan
      Thumb Down

      Re: Adding insult -

      Checking it yesterday we were at 1 Aussie to 1.10 US. I somehow doubt prices have changed to reflect this since we were back at 1 Aussie to 0.80 US

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is obscene

    I wanted to buy Civ 5 on Steam, it was $70 if you are an Aussie.

    If you then route via a U.S. based proxy server Steam is suddenly happy to sell you the exact same game for $30.

    Needless to say that I didn't pay 70 bucks but most folk don't have the ability to bypass idiotic pricing rorts in this manner.

    1. streaky

      Re: It is obscene

      When this stuff happens my usual think is to pay nobody. You're obviously not going to pay the 70 and the 30 can die just for the price difference.

      If every consumer behaved like me the world would so much be a better place.

  3. secret goldfish

    Rental retail costs and their use for online pricing

    "Choice tested the widespread argument that Australian retail rents account for the price difference by looking at the differentials for software products, and found that the price differentials for online stores with no shopfronts (48 percent) were nearly identical to the recommended retail price differences for the physical products (49 percent). ®"

    That doesn't amount to rental cost NOT affecting the actual price though, all it amounts to is retailers thinking "we can get away with ripping off at the storefront based on rental costs so we may as well try it on with the online model as well" Doesn't actually matter if there is no rental cost when consumers have become so accustomed to paying for it as a part of overpriced purchases already.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Rental retail costs and their use for online pricing

      Vendors won't undercut the channel once they've set the price.

      I don't believe property is more expensive in Melbourne than London.

      Lying toads.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the problem with digital online distribution

    I have refused to buy most digital content online when it is priced the way it is and is restricted the way it currently is.

    Why anyone would buy a movie on say the PSN network (which has higher compression, is DRM protected to only play on your one brand of device as well as costs you your own bandwidth to download) instead of spending LESS money and buying a physical Blu-ray disc (which isn't as compressed, which you can take and use anywhere as well as actually re-selling it when you're finished with it) surprises me as the only current advantage to "digital-online" seems to be the "speed of delivery" which in itself requires you to be already paying a decent monthly sum for your internet connection.

    It is a shame because all this online digital delivery could have benefitted both the sellers AND the end customers but the way the sellers decided to price things the only one who it really ends up helping is the seller. The end customer is often actually worse-off buying digitally online especially when you consider DRM and the second hand re-sale market completely disappearing/not even an option for goods bought digitally.

    It is also a shame because the digital download model DOES actually work in many cases, I have bought plenty of software online, direct from the developers (usually smaller developers) who are more than happy to charge me the same price as their US customers, I'm glad that I'm not being ripped off for simply being 'outside' of the US, but I'm even gladder to see 100% of my money go direct to the developer and not some middleman retailer who adds nothing to the product outside of controlling its availability.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: the problem with digital online distribution

      I wrote a stinking email to bethesda noting that I won't buy any of their games until they stop the practice. Even though I could get skyrim from the UK easily.

      Savvy buyers going via the US/UK is a "no-lose" scenario for the vendors which encourages the gouging in Oz.

      It isn't just IT. Coles sells Ambrosia Rice Pudding for £1.65 which makes their own brand look cheap at £1 for 400g of rice and milk.

  5. Veldan

    I import directly from America for almost everything.

    I have a US address (thanks and even accounting for the shipping price it is still drastically cheaper for a lot of items.

    The big ticket ones being Visual Studio 2010 licences, Ice hockey gear (it's quite popular in Oz) and almost electronic good you can think of.

    I can at least understand the price differences for a lot of things as the Oz government charges ridiculous amounts of tax on imports but for software (as the above Steam example shows) it is ridiculous to be paying over double, you're better off using Hotspot shield to fake an American IP and buy it all for 30% of the Oz price.

    1. Stephen 10

      What's import duties (tax) are you talking about?

      I'm just wondering, as most items nowadays attract no import duties.

      IT Products - 0%

      Ice Hockey Gear - 0%

      Just GST on items over $1000.

  6. secret goldfish

    Adobe products the same price or cheaper in Australia!!!

    Man I'd love to know which ones, cause they're certainly not the ones I use and require on a daily basis. Those ones have a huge "Australia tax" on them locally.

    The only Adobe products I can think of which cost the same here as in the US are PDF reader and Flash player...cause they're both given away FREE like a virus.

    I'd guess the "cheaper here" Adobe products are probably something already cheap/simple like Lightroom, but for the most part, the actual products that Adobe make most of their "bread and Butter" on (CS packages) are vastly overpriced locally in comparison to the US no matter how Adobe PR or research firms like to spin it.

  7. shumbadrinker

    red tape

    100% agreed on the vendors being bloodsucking roaches. I recently asked a friend at The Economist why the price of the digital edition was higher in Australia than any other country on Earth, and his response was "because we can".

    I wonder if the survey took into account the ridiculous duties and tariffs imposed by the Australian government on imports. I imagine that is also a significant factor in the cost of things here. I have never heard a satisfactory response to the question "Why do we have to pay import duties?"

    There is only one way to fight this, and that is to get a my us account and buy overseas

  8. small and stupid

    They deserve it

    Its only fair. Australians are lazy and dumb and only rich off their stolen lands natural resources.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They deserve it...the lucky country

      That pretty closely resembles the original meaning behind the coined phrase 'the lucky country' despite how many Australians have convinced themselves that it means something more positive and nationalistic, so you might be onto something there!

      Just thought I'd point that out before you got too many down votes from other Australians who might get angry and take your comment personally. Then again many of those potential down voters will soon be too busy chanting "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi" at the Olympics, again missing the point behind the skinhead origins of the "Oi, Oi, Oi" chant.

      Yes I'm Australian and I got a good laugh from your comment, one of those silent nervous laughs when someone says something absurdly offensive which holds a harsh, hidden, home-truth, kinda like Karl Pilkington in the "An Idiot Abroad" series.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    I am the man who...

    Coined the phrase, "The Great Australian Gouge."

    Yes boys and girls - isn't it fun how so many members of AFAT and the DRM consortiums etc... Like Microsoft - for instance, are only too happy to scream loud and long about piracy etc.... but not the bit about them ripping people off with their regional pricing scams.

    The people who wrote the Choice report on the "Great Australian Gouge" - well Microsoft ranked pretty damed highly in being thieving pricks.

    I am only too happy to hack and crack and share all of Microsofts software - all around the planet, but except for the fact I hate their software and them - in fact I would not even compost all their CD's and DVD's under my terds, even if they were made of organic recyclable materials.

    In fact Microsoft and their conman bullshit, is just one more reason to use Linux and never go back.

  10. Cpt Blue Bear

    Taxes? What taxes?

    I see people above talking about tariffs and duties - please give details. As far as I'm aware there are no duties on software or hardware. Nor on electronics or books or DVDs. The only things I can think of off the of my head that attract duty are alcohol and tobacco. You can't blame the government for this one, no matter how much you'd like to.

    This is down to the importers, exclusive agency agreements and the fucked up nature of distribution and retail in the country. Do us all a favour - buy everything you can OS until these clowns either wise up or collapse under their own weight.

    Bah humbug.

    1. Stephen 10

      Re: Taxes? What taxes?

      A good example of the gouge by vendors was when last year, import duty on cars reduced from 10% to 5% on cars not a single imported car reduced price to reflect this.

      Australia has very low barriers for imports nowadays, after Labour reduced most of them in the early 90s then they were further reduced with the introduction of GST. It's interesting to see that people think they still high.

      It's not helped by people in shops making hand-wavey comments about taxes. It happened to me yesterday when I asked why an item was twice the US price: "Taxes, freight, handling..." even though the shop assistant admitted there was no tax on the item when I asked which tax.

  11. ifconfig

    The solution.

    Capitalism's pricing is 'what will the user pay'? Fine. But they can't be allowed to create an artificial supply monopoly, by (for example) refusing to offer warranty or service on items sourced via parallel imports. It should be illegal for them to do that.

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