Time for tech giants to face the music on international price discrimination

Dirty deeds far from dirt cheap for Australian music fans

 CHOICE is calling on the Federal Parliamentary Committee investigating digital prices to make international tech giants front up and explain the high prices paid by Australians.

 It has been six months since the inquiry began, and CHOICE says stonewalling from Apple, Adobe and Microsoft is a snub to millions of Australians who pay higher prices for their digital products.

 “CHOICE has provided evidence showing Australians pay around 50 per cent more than US consumers for identical music, software, games and hardware,” says Matt Levey, CHOICE Head of Campaigns.1

 “With the industry unwilling to volunteer any detailed or public response, it’s time for the Committee to use the full powers of the Parliament and compel these businesses to front up and explain why they think it’s alright for Australians to pay higher prices.”2

 While CHOICE has welcomed the Committee’s attempts to shine a light on IT price discrimination, the consumer groups says the inquiry must go beyond rehearsing a list of rip-offs and create real pressure for lower prices.

 “Just last week, AC/DC finally hit iTunes with a 54% difference,  that’s $80 difference,  between the local and US prices for the ‘complete collection’,” says Mr Levey.3

 “Unfortunately for those about to rock, this is far from an isolated example, and it is one reason why some music fans have taken to setting up US iTunes accounts to access legitimate, cheaper music.”

 CHOICE has released a guide for consumers to navigate around international price discrimination, but says ultimately the industry should be held to account to start charging fairer prices locally.

 “We are calling on the Government to investigate whether measures used to sustain international price discrimination, like geo-blocking, are anti-competitive, and an important step towards that is for this inquiry to call the industry’s bluff on their pricing excuses.”

 Media contact:

Matt Levey, CHOICE Head of Campaigns – 0488 214 066

 To read more on CHOICE tests, reviews and campaigns, go to choice.com.au

  1. CHOICE found significant price differences across a range of IT hardware and software products in our submission to the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications Inquiry into IT Pricing.
  2. According to Committee Chair Mr Nick Champion MP, “[t]o one degree or another, there has been a real unwillingness to submit evidence in public or to appear before the committee on the part of both industry associations and major companies in the area of IT.” Statement from October 29, 2012
  3. The AC/DC ‘Complete Collection’ was released on iTunes last week, retailing for $229.99 in the Australian store and $149.99 in the US store. Assuming parity exchange rate (AUD $1= US$1). 

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