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CHOICE says the Australia Tax is in fashion

Identical items cost more in Australia than the US

22 April 2014

A CHOICE review of some popular clothing items has found Australians are paying up to 60% more than U.S. consumers for exactly the same products.

"Whether it's IT products, cosmetics or clothes, it's never been easier for Aussie consumers to compare prices between Australia and overseas stores and it's not pretty viewing," says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.

"It seems the 'Australia tax' is the new black in the rag trade, with major international manufacturers and distributors working to block Australians from getting a better deal."

As an example, Levi's 510 skinny fit jeans are priced at $A119.95 at Myer. On the US Levi's website they are $A74.85. This represents a mark-up of 60% for Australian consumers.

"We're comparing online stores with online stores so there should be no reason Australians are being forced to pay more. This has nothing to do with higher costs of doing business in Australia, and everything to do with slugging us with the 'Australia tax'," Godfrey says.

CHOICE compared five different produces from Levi's, Coach, Mango, The North Face and UNIQLO.

"Whether it's jeans, stoles, dresses, hoodies and jackets, the big brands love to slug you with a mark-up if you are Australian."  

"We know price discrimination is a major issue for Aussie consumers across a range of products and we hope the Competition Policy Review this year will help address this issue."

Last year CHOICE made a submission to the Federal Parliament's IT pricing inquiry and queried why Australians are often charged more than consumers overseas for a variety of computer, software, and gaming products.

"While the IT pricing Inquiry recommended the government take action to end geo-blocking, Australians are still waiting for fair go when it comes to accessing affordable products online."

"Our advice is that if you're being blocked by an international retailer from getting the best deal, don't get angry, get savvy. Consumers using a virtual private network and a third party delivery service that is happy to estimate shipping costs can navigate around the geo-blocks."

Tips for avoid the 'Australia tax':
  • Use a VPN service provider.
  • Use a third-party delivery service such as MyUS and Australian-based company Price USA. 
  • Use a US-based Domain Name System (DNS) server, such as unblock-us.com.

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