The Australian Information Industry Association’s claim that customs duty contributes to high IT prices in this country has been flatly contradicted by the Australian Customs Service. Customs, whose submission to the IT price inquiry being conducted by the Australian parliament at the urging of MP Ed Husic has been published …
Gotta wonder about the 10% of non-infringing p2p piracy...
Should that segment be regarded as p2p privateering? Also, do you need a letter of marque to be a p2p privateer?
way too much 'Sid Meiers Pirates!' in my lifetime.
90% of P2P is infringing... well MAYBE if we could LEGALLY purchase the damn stuff it wouldn't be. Everything is geolocked, you want to buy an eBook? Not available in your country. Movie? Not available in your country. TV show? Not available in your country. Hell I tried to buy a tablet off Amazon ($300 cheaper!) and got told "nope, can't sell to you, you dirty Australian", but the Hong Kong eBay seller worked just fine...
About the only damn things that you can buy online without hassles are games (barring the few that get banned, but that shouldn't be a problem much longer, cross fingers), and even then depending on the publishers you've got the problem of them tacking on the 50-100% Australian tax that the rest of the article was talking about.
Steam is the worst for it, there are tons of ISPs that provide free Steam mirrors to their customers, at zero cost to Valve... Who I know don't set the prices (Ubisoft, EA I'm looking at you!), but the justification isn't there! Hell the prices are still in USD, so you're still getting bitten on the currency conversion fees!
Most people are perfectly okay with paying for goods, and don't mind mirror differences in price, but when you can't legally purchase something, and those that you can legally purchase are 100-200% more expensive based on a greed-based money grab, they get rightly pissed off and simply pirate it.
There is zero justifiable reason why digital goods and IT products should cost so damn much more in Australia, hell a lot of them are made closer to us then to other markets! And some are even made HERE, PS3 games for example are manufactured in Sydney and are three times the price...
Nice to see parts of the government
working FOR the people who they are supposed to be there to support, for a pleasant change!
As an Australian citizen I don't mind paying 10 to 20% more for products than my American / European brothers but the 100 to 300% I regularly see is a joke. The worst is when talking to the shop owner and their buy price is more than on-line inc shipping.
...they will take my parallel import out of my cold dead hands etc....
Local vs import
I used to be a custom software developer for the SME market in Oz, and as a service to my clients also quoted to supply and install various bits of hardware (new router, extra PC, etc).
The thing that used to really bug me was that as a low volume supplier, I could frequently get better prices for my clients by purchasing retail from some of the MSY/Umart type retailers than I could from the likes of TechPacific and Ingram who supposesly (at least according to their emails) had my best interests as a supplier/reseller at heart.
It seems to me that a lot of the 'Australian Tax' is wrapped up in middle men who do SFA.
NB This was a while ago before TechPacific lost total interest in anyone who wasn't prepared to spend $squillions per month through their account.
Last week I imported a silicone phone cover from HK for $2.50. Same thing at a local mobile store was $16.95. Huh?
But will it ship?
The key factor in pricing parity is whether you can ship it easily.
Anything under 2kg can be got from the UK easily - £26 shipping. Anything over 2kg skyrockets to well over £100 Shipping from the US is always a bit pricey. HK is your best bet.
Electronics are actually not too bad. Take a look at cars if you want to see massive price differences. I'm not sure what the tax is but I think the "Australian Safety Standards" are to blame - its difficult to get one passed. Yeah, because German safety standards just aren't good enough!
It does appear that many goods are priced at "Foreign Price + what it would cost if you shipped it personally".
I import on principle, to deprive the local pirates.
Re: But will it ship?
Re cars - importing cars is a nightmare aided by the collusion of the ATO. They've decided that you pay tax not on the price you pay but on what an equivalent car would retail for in Australia. Nice to see the gov engaging in price fixing to protect the wholesalers.
That said the duty has fallen from around 40% to 5% over the last 15 years, sadly this did not reduce the prices noticeably as the distributors pocketed the difference. Many cars here are 200-300% more expensive than they are in the US or UK and the used market is kept artificially inflated as well. This helps to explain why so many 20-40 year old cars are still rattling dangerously around Australian roads.
It would take major legislative reform to change this and there's absolutely no will to do this shown by the major parties as the industry and it's associated unions are political donators and lobbyists.
Just punch them back
I'm a frequent buyer of games on Steam (i have several hundred bought through their store). In the past i'd use a VPN (in America) to buy the games that had been marked up for Australia to get them at the USA price but lately i've changed tactics.
If the company that produced the game wants to charge me 50-100% more because i'm in Australia i just download it illegally. I do believe in paying companies for their work but my reasoning behind this is that by trying to charge me double they instead get nothing (exactly what greedy people should get). If they want to charge me a fair, standard price i'm happy to pay it.
No duty on IT? Really?
So why have Customs nailed me for duty and GST time and time again on consignments marked as "computer equipment" on the Customs declaration?
Good for the Customs Service
I've always found them helpful and very reasonable to deal with both for professional and personal imports.
The AIIA on the other hand, are a bunch of self serving cretins who are otherwise unemployable in the industry they claim to represent. The Computer Industry Association is just as hopeless. To dim to make it an industry? Don't worry, you can always work for an "industry body" instead. There's saying about piss ups and breweries that applies to both...
It's also long since time that the retail chain in this country got called on pricing. It is pure price gouging. if you look around you find plenty of examples where competition has forced the prices down to a world level so there is clearly nothing fundamental justifying it.
@Anonymous Coward 6:25: re: But will it ship? You're using the wrong vendor / shipper, mate. Last box from the UK was just under 6kg and cost ~£60 while 2kg from the same vendor would be ~£40. Freight costs go down per unit as the volume goes up as a rule, with a practical cap for airfreight at around 20kg.
@Timm66 re: No duty on IT? Really?: the letter you received told you what the justification was. I know, I've received enough of them (and NONE for any electronics). You did read the letter didn't you? My guess is you got charged duty because when they opened to package it turned out not to be "computer equipment"...
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