01.Feeling the gouge
A Parliamentary inquiry will look into the practices of technology companies who participate in geographic price discrimination.
Australians are often charged up to double the price of those shopping in the United States or Asia on a range of goods, including software, music downloads, electronic equipment and even ebooks.
Sydney MP Ed Husic, who has been lobbying in this area for over a year, hopes the inquiry (announced at the weekend) will bring an end to the unfair pricing burden placed on Australians.
Minister for Communications, Stephen Conroy, agrees with Husic and says businesses and households should have access to IT software and hardware that is fairly priced and relative to other jurisdictions.
CHOICE believes excuses used by multinational companies to justify higher prices, especially with regard to products downloaded from the internet, are largely unjustified.
We will welcome the opportunity to be involved in the inquiry and hope it will pressure importers, distributors and retailers to pass on some of the savings they are enjoying thanks to the strong Australian dollar.
A key recommendation that came from the Productivity Commission's retail inquiry last year suggested the government look further into the realm of price discrimination. You can read our submission here.
The inquiry will be conducted by the standing committee on infrastructure and communications and will begin later this year.
How much do we really pay?
For the Beatles No. 1 Album
$12.99 on US iTunes vs. $20.99 on our local iTunes store
For Microsoft office 2010 Professional
$349 online in the US vs. $849 online from an Australian IP address
For an Amazon Kindle
$79 for US residents vs. $109 for Australians
For more information about price discrimination and the rise of parallel imports being seen in Australian to counteract this practice, keep an eye out for a follow-up piece in June in our Shopping section.
For more news, see Consumer news.