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back to article Apple blocks cheaper UK iPod sales

Apple is threatening legal action against 11 UK e-tailers unless they stop selling iPods imported from outside the UK. The computer giant has complained to a number of well-known online retailers which were buying iPods in the US – where they sell for £15 less than the UK– and then selling them at a knocked-down price to …

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Ironic now that CWH and O2 have run out of 8GB iPhones...

This nicely ironic after O2 and CWH slashed the price of the iPhone by £100 as a result they have run out...

Apple have always adopted a strange business model - which is why most of us are typing comments on a PC - probably running Windows or maybe Linux though unlikely.

I once challenged Adobe at an education show about their pricing policy in the UK, after much opening and shutting of mouth by the lovely saleslady, I was asked to leave the stand (once I had removed as many of their promotional items as possible).

Face it guys rip-off Britain is here to stay, and while we are subserviant to the EU (and I like the EU mostly), this will continue. Maybe we should be more like the French who seem to ignore the bits they don't like, strike about the bits they hate and take on board the bits they like...

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Price parity

Before you can compare prices in the USA and the UK, you have to level the playing field. I'm am surprised that people here are only looking at the bottom line.

First of all, there is import duty. Okay, you can avoid paying import duty by sneaking things in. Blame UK for this, not the manufacturer.

VAT at 17.5%. This varies from one EU country to another - why, I can't explain, but it is not charged the USA. Not the fault of the manufacturer.

Warranty. In the USA, it is 90 days. In the UK, it is one year by law. Again not the fault of the manufacturer.

Advertising and marketing. It is more efficient to do this in a big country than a smaller one.

Sales volume. Higher volume (USA) means cheaper prices.

When you take all these things into consideration, the price difference is not so great. Expecting price parity in the UK and USA is unrealistic.

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iTard

They know they can get away with it because of all the iTards out there. iTards will buy it even if they are making 20% more in their region because they need to have the status symbol. Instead of them complaining with their mouths complain with your wallets and then Stevy will hear you. They've become the MS of the music player biz...

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I wonder

what happened to Levi's sales after the Tesco thing. I bet they dropped, what with much cheaper decent jeans available from convenient outlets like supermarkets.

Same will happen to Apple to, here's hoping the cunt shot itself in the foot.

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We used to have this here in the USA

It was called "fair trade". The manufacturer set "minimum price" that something could be sold at. Several states had a corresponding law. Of course some states didn't, and in those states things (I remember Sony TVs at one point) were cheaper there. Then we had a lawyer involved. It went all the way to the Supremes in DC. Law overturned. No free trade. Now we just have "minimum advertised price", which you see sometimes. Then places like Amazon have "click here for best price", which gets around this (ask for the good price then it isn't advertised!).

So, there will always be ways to get around "restrictions". When there is a will, there is always a way!

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Sony did the same thing with PSP importers

I don't understand how it is legal but it appears to be a government supported behavior.

http://www.lik-sang.com/

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Coat

Undertakings

Bit disappointing, this. Still, it's typical of rip-off Britain. Remember Tesco selling Levis jeans at American prices? They soon put a stop to that...

One other thing – hate to nitpick, but an undertaking is a guarantee, not, say, an injunction or some other demand to cease doing something, so Messrs Bird & Bird can't be issuing undertakings demanding these retailers stop selling "grey iPods".

I'll get my coat. For being the local pe'dant (sic).

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Stop

CD-WOW was also stung by this crap

Which is where it all gets silly - you could buy legitimately from their Hong Kong site (not the UK site) but they were still done under the trade laws for grey imports - although the goods were legal in the place of purchase, paid for "at" that location (at least, that's where card payments were taken) and available for purchase via the internet from other territories.

These silly restrictions only appear to apply to large vendors though - I can still buy DVDs from dddhouse.com (albeit typically region 3 only) for buttons.

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@Eponymous Howard

Yes "restrictive practice" is a pretty big word, isn't it?

Didn't stop the French and German courts from jumping all over Stevie's idea of fair trade. Cue irrelevant remarks about UK leaders prepared to do anything the US wishes...

Now, get with it you fuckwit! ;-)

@Joey: two years' warranty in the EU but "your statutory rights are not affected". If you buy from any retailer in the EU then you get two years' warranty and the seller is liable. Although, in reality after the first six months' statutory guarantee it is usually pretty hard to prove defects. Says the man who recently had to get the fan in his not-yet-two-years-old McBook replaced at his own expense. I love Mac OS X but wish they would bring back the clones so those of us who want to get some work done don't have to pay as much as the fashion victims: Asus EEEEEEEEEE with Mac OS X, anyone?

@everyone: Of course, the real story is that we're no longer buying the iMplants (like what I did there?) in droves so Stevie is out to maximise his profits and not piss off his partners more than he already has (T-Mobile, o2, etc. will not be paying *that* much for exclusivity again).

@El Reg: you can't rely on me for the vitriol. Bring back King Otto!!!

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@Phill Holland

"I was recently shopping for a new MP3 player, and you visit all the high street shops and chains only too discover that the same model of ipod costs the same in any shop. I think the price fixing accusation is valid. If you are capable of providing the same product for cheaper you should be allowed to do so, the competition is heathly and natural for any business"

Since every one likes using son as an example lets continue.

Here in the States sony has an MSR. Any company that sells below MSR will find thier sony shipments slow, and a huge lag time between other retailers when new products ship.

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Paris Hilton

In another country

In another country , in a sun burnt land called Oz , that is defined as illegal trade restrictions and the courts have duly defined it thus !

It makes you wonder why Oz is slated to get the first legally unlocked Iphoney with 3g no less from a infamous company that appropriated another logo to call it their own and is known to empty the fan boys wallet and credit at the same time ?

Some people are just not as thick or act like brainless sheep as others of the one in twenty five minority do although given the new mobile phone sales volumes it would be extremely lucky to hit one in ten thousand !

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Jobs Horns

iPods are cheaper in the UK than the rest of the EU!

My younger sister is looking to by an iPod, we found the 80GB ones being sold on the UK store for £159. Converting this to € it comes out at €201.

Apple, however, won't allow non-UK residents to purchase from the UK store so instead we have to get stung for the IE price of €229.

Which is a price difference of €28, at today's rates that's £22

So no, it's not rip-off Britain because they're cheaper in Blighty than anywhere else in the EU. The problem is solely down to Apple being allowed to regionalise their selling (even in the EU, which is supposed to be a single market).

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Tesco's did this with Livi Jeans

Can't remember who won, although I haven't see any Livi's in a tesco store for a long time!

Maybe we should thank Apple for not doing what the Sony and Microsoft's of this world do... region encode their devices.

All regional price fixing should be illegal, unless, as in the case of cars for example, they need to be re-engineered

I got my iPod touch in the US, and after Tax was added the difference in price was about £10.

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Exchange rates

Apple hates to change the price of anything. If it's £99, it's £99. Recently the dollar has weakened against sterling, and sterling has weakened against the Euro. Combined with VAT and duty, this accounts for a large part of the price difference. The rest is just the world standard - everything has to be cheaper in the USA.

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Global free trade

Yep, doesn't exist, not as far as the consumer is concerned.

But as said, it's not exclusive to Apple. Most big companies are at it. Market segments and all that and attempt to protect those markets wherever they can (i.e. protect the maximum amount of income they can get).

Laws in countries like the UK allow them to stop grey imports to aid their market protection.

That combined with (alleged) price fixing between themselves, distributors and retailers in markets and forcing retailers not to export (cd-wow for example), makes it almost akin to a criminal protection racket.

Thankfully within the EU this practice is outlawed, but the world isn't the EU unfortunately, and the result is companies treat the EU as a premium market to ensure they milk the most out of it as a whole.

And yet you are legally allowed to buy an iPod in the USA and bring it home with you on the plane.

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Law in general

This is the problem with law, and the world in general...its not a case of rights or wrongs, its about who has the most money, the most power and the most influence.

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Consumer Protection

A major reason for the increased price of electronics in the UK is because of your consumer protection laws. A longer than factory warranty and liability for the merchant has to cost someone because as a product grows older it becomes more expensive to repair or replace, and even though the merchant is responsible to you, the manufacturer is responsible to the merchant (at least reputable manufacturers).

You people want everything but think it's going to be free. Sorry chaps it doesn't work that way, every law you pass or take part in to "protect yourselves" against merchants only drives your costs up more.

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@ Columbus proved theworld was round

he did no such thing! The ancient greeks proved it was round thousands of years ago.

What Columbus did was try to find a western route to the far east, noone laughed at him for thinking it was round, they laughed at him because he thought the world was less than half the size it is.

He's damn lucky America was in the way, because he had nowhere near enough food for the trip if it weren't there.

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It sucks - but...

On electronic goods the additional mark-up is largely down to the longer warranties in the EU.

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Coat

Folks, get a grip- and a life

I've purchased several MP3 players for myself and mine and not once have I realistically considered an Apple iPod. They are way too overpriced and quite frankly, the cult just isn't appealing.

I don't agree with this law but the law of trademarks exists for a reason and that's the way it is until those in the European Union grow some balls.

Coat, because if I have to travel outside and abroad to save a quid or three, I absolutely will.

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STUFF APPLE

All i can say is stuff them and there crappy practises :D

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@ Various

@ Marc - Levi won.

@ Gordon - that's probably more to do with recent currency fluctuations than regionalistion.

@ Heystoopid - I presume (because you don't specify) that you are referring to the logo of a certain record label. If so, please look at said record label and see if it bears any resemblance to a certain computer company's logo (both past and present). It's a fruit - the same fruit - but unfortunately, not the same logo. I presume that you last para refers to the brainless sheep running Oz.

@ Roland Newmark - have you ever stopped to wonder why it is that the iPod is so successful? - Obviously not as you refer to the owners of the 141,000,000 ipods sold as "iTards" . I presume you must be a zuneTard.

@ general.. I've just been visiting Hong Kong and comparing prices there with prices here in UK. The 16G Touch is about £200 there compared to £229 here (before VAT) (at current X rates) in the US it's about £201 before tax. I wouldn't say that Britain was a cheaper place to buy - although Costco is now selling the 16G touch at £207 before VAT.

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Jobs Horns

fekum

with buggyrama clunky itunes and unstable stupid ipods i'll never buy another

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Stop

Pah

Everyone moans about corporations benefiting from this aspect of capitalism.

I'm not defending Apple here, but nobody HAS to buy an ipod. If it seems too expensive, don't buy it. Then the price will fall. And I speak as the owner of three ipods.

It's a bit like an argument I heard from a fireman recently. He was talking about speed cameras and people moaning about them. He gave a justification which is very simple. "If you don't speed, you won't get caught". Simple and infuriatingly true. You might not agree with the cameras, but the law's the law; if you want to drive faster without consequence, elect a politician who'll change things for you.

The same principle applies here. You only have yourself to blame if what you're buying costs you too much. (If you spend beyond what you can afford, you're an idiot, and good luck getting a mortgage any time soon.)

Christ, getting older really is ageing me.

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Jobs Horns

Anti-Trust Cometh

Seems Apple is going M$ way. Attempting to maintain absolute monopoly, controlling the free-fair market, forcing retailers to sell products with monopolistic pricing ... ...

I think the retailers should swallow Apple's arrogance for now and wait for a class-action lawsuit or Anti-Trust Committee investigation. They can make their killing then.

Best to unite to fight the Goliath; little Davids.

(You could also try and promote non-apple alternatives).

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Short Memories

Loving the response of calling Apple, or Mr Jobs a c**t for his blocking of grey imports, but he;s not the first, and will surely not be the last. It was only two years ago that Sony did the same over sales of the PSP, didn't see anyone calling Ken Kutaragi (sp?) a c**t back then, so what makes this any different? Iirc, M$ have the same policy on software too... But then we all know that Bill Gates is a c**t anyway.

On a side note, do we win some form of award here for the number of times c**t has been used in response to a reg article?

/would grab coat, but it's been banned as a grey import :(

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€ (euro) and £ (sterling) prices

You're also forgetting that the iPod price will have fluctuated significantly as the £ has plummeted in value against the Euro in recent months yet the price hasn't changed in the UK or Eurozone countries.

The US$ has ABSOLUTELY noise dived in relation to the Euro in recent months, again the prices in the US haven't really reflected that nor have the EU prices.

Often suppliers don't change their prices that quickly in response to currency fluctuations.

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Black Helicopters

Mom's Apple pie with added cyanide

@Gordon - So get a Brit friend to buy it for your sister as a prezzie. There is *NO* law against gifts from one person to another (yet ?? Santa had better check this situation carefully; just in case !!) I always gift my French friends with goods (electronic bits and parts) legally bought in UK and they gift me in return with goods (booze and fags) legally bought in France !! Anyone who tries to stop the giving of gifts is going to run into a lot more grief than they can possibly handle !!

Mine's the one with a pair of Silkworm SAMs, black helicopters, for the downing of !!

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Stop

Re: It's true that it's not Apple that are to blame

It may be true that UK law allows Apple to be arseholes, but that doesn't change the fact that they are being arseholes.

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Take them to court

Another Apple fanboy, Kool Aid drinker, whatever ... here.

If you want to pick a fight with Apple take them to court over the price of the Apple TV ... now that IS a rip-off. The 160Gb has a price premium of more than 80% over the US price, and that's with a generous nominal loading of a 10% US sales tax.

Such is the scale of thievery on the Apple TV that I will not buy one ... and I have most Apple products.

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Paris Hilton

R: Pah

No, nobody has to buy an iPod. And nobody should be forbidden from selling their iPod no matter where it's been sourced.

Corporations are quick to outsource our jobs citing a global market.

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Jobs Horns

Re: @Charlie - Will it stand up in court

What if Charlie calls 'em a prick?

And Levi did the same with Tesco buying foreign jeans. Tesco lost, but as Jamie Cole said and I said at the time, this is a global world and retailers and warehousers should be able to sell to the public grey imports.

If they are worries that Apple UK won't get the sales and distort the revenues then I'd point them to the outsourcing of work to avoid H&S laws, the outsourcing of income to avoid tax and several similar options that they take upon themselves voluntarily that distort revenues.

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IT Angle

Re: Columbus proved theworld was round

Don't know where this came from, but the arabs had worked it out thousands of years ago, the Mayans had worked that out thousands of years before that merely by looking at the shadow cast by the earth on the moon!

Alternatively, since there are so many people still believing in the Flat Earth (gotta teach the controversy!), Columbus failed to prove it, otherwise everyone would be thinking it round (or would it be false because so many people believe it?)

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@Eponymous Howard to bob

Yes, we KNOW.

Now, what says that you can not sell what you've bought onward? Nothing.

So why are Apple telling retailers they cannot sell on iPods they purchased? A distribution license is just needed to sell as a business and the retailers aren't making iPods, so a manufacturing license isn't needed.

Why?

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Counterpoint?

"Just to counterpoint the comments annoyed at parallel import/price differentiation, there are some plus sides to the rules, too (although I don't see how they apply in the case of iPods and Levi jeans). HIV drugs are often a lot cheaper in developing nations than in the west- the price disparity is not pure profit for the GSK;"

Have you seen GSK's profit? That's AFTER more is spent on marketing than R&D. Heck, how hard do you have to sell to medicare in the US? To the NHS in the UK? Big purchasers.

That isn't a counterpoint, it's a stark reveal of why grey imports MUST be allowed: India had to ignore the medical patent to get enough drugs to safeguard the lives of their people. Why? The monopoly price was too high.

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Anonymous Coward

Market forces

As long as airheads, hairdressers, children and fanboys keep buying their stuff, they will keep selling it at whatever prices they want. If you don't like their price, buy something else.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Pah

"Everyone moans about corporations benefiting from this aspect of capitalism."

Actualy no, it is not part of capitalism. True capitalism removes all forms of protectonist restrictions.

The same gose for your argument about Speed camaras. "He gave a justification which is very simple. "If you don't speed, you won't get caught".

The problem is not the fines. I try not to speed, but I do make mistakes. Thinking it is a 40 limit etc. I made a mistake fine. The Police stop me, I get a telling off and a fine, and learn from that. The problem with Speed Camaras is I dont learn, I just get a letter in the post a week later.

I got caught by a camara doing 36 in a 30 limit about 6 months back. The local Police offerd me a speed awareness course and no fine or points. It was very good, but I would have preferd a telling off from a Policeman and points though.

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Levis Jeans

Dont forget Tesco actualy won the support of the UK government over scenario's like this!!

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Pirate

Rubbish Consumer Protection

"A major reason for the increased price of electronics in the UK is because of your consumer protection laws." A longer than factory warranty and liability for the merchant has to cost someone because as a product grows older it becomes more expensive to repair or replace, and even though the merchant is responsible to you, the manufacturer is responsible to the merchant (at least reputable manufacturers)."

1. In the UK we have some of the worst consumer protection laws in the western world and we are the infamous laggards in the EU. Most EU countries AND several US states have a significant better consumer legislation (e.g. TWO years or more for electronic and electric products).

2. When it comes to factury warranty (manufacturers warranty - as you refer to 'reputable manufacturers') this on many electronic products is between two and three years and many up to five years.

3. So the logic goes that by having consumer protection laws in the UK which is below par with both many other countries AND below what reputable manufacturers already do anyway we expect things for free? Sorry but the way things are in the UK at the moment even with reputable manufacturers warranties in place many of the distributors and the retailers do not hesitate to 'forget' about manufacturers warranties and try to sell their customers worthless add on 'warranties'.... Not to mention those companies that conveniently have not noticed that warranties exist at all.

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Anonymous Coward

<no title>

IMO the law should be capable of investigating a blatant attempt to distort the market whenever a manufacturer tries to dictate / manipulate what happens to their product after they've sold it. It's a damn cheek, and always has been.

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pah!

its an annoying fact that the UK gets screwed more ways than Paris Hilton. Look at the pricing on the adobe website. we wanted the latest creative suite master edition. the price in $$ was less than in ££ - this equated to the product being over double the price in the UK. when i contacted them they said that european releases needed all the language packs doing. my answer was that im english - the product is in english (well americanese anyway) so why the hell was i being charged £800 extra?

surely something needs to be done. why the hell does the UK pay more for everything?!?!

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You Fools!

Everyone knows that in most cases companies consider £1 = $1 and €1 = $1 and £1 = €1

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Jobs Horns

@Ishkandar

Er, the Silkworm is a sea-skimming anti-ship missile, not a SAM. You'll not hit any black helicopters with those unless they happen to be parked on a ship* at the time.

I'm sure that if you have the receipts you can get your money back, unless they were grey imports** of course........

* or flying very low over water.

** gratuitous relevance bit.

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Too many precedences set

Unfortunately the EU and our justice system support the right of manufacturers to restrict the sale of goods intended for one market outside the EU from unauthorised distribution in another. There have been a number of test case on this matter, one famously involving Levis and Tesco This concerned Levi jeans imported from Turkey as I recall.

Of course this does not stop it being wrong and the only way to stop it is not to by products from manufacturers who adopt this practice, which is just about all...!

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Jobs Horns

RE:Solomon Grundy

A major reason for the increased price of electronics in the UK is because of your consumer protection laws. A longer than factory warranty and liability for the merchant has to cost someone because as a product grows older it becomes more expensive to repair or replace, and even though the merchant is responsible to you, the manufacturer is responsible to the merchant (at least reputable manufacturers).

You people want everything but think it's going to be free. Sorry chaps it doesn't work that way, every law you pass or take part in to "protect yourselves" against merchants only drives your costs up more.

So you think it is perfectly acceptable for an expensive item to only have an expected lifespan of 90 days? How does having a 12 month warranty cost the manufacturer any more. The warranty is only applicable to anything that fails due to crap manufacturing, not if you drop it etc. Nothing in the world should be manufactured with only a 3 month life expectancy. If you can't make a product that will last 12 months then you need to go back to the drawing board. No wonder American manufacturing has gone down the toilet.

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Anonymous Coward

iPoo

Why not just buy a different mp3 player, you know the ones without hiss and lo-fi output, that you can copy any file to it without using itunes, and not designed to break in 1 year.

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Coat

An undertaking...

Only ever becomes legal if you actually agree and swear to it in a court of law. Until then, it is just another piece of paper. This should not be a bar on any of the 11 e-tailers continuing to trade until Apple actually takes them to court and wins. And that could be....'How long is a piece of string?'

While I might be classed as a Fanboi, I have to disagree with Apple's stance on this one.

But then again when the con (ned) sumer is shafted by all the corporations at evry turn, why shouldn't Apple try to bleed as mch as they can out of people?

Mine's the one with the half-eaten Apple in the pocket

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same ole same ole...

Yet again it seems the 'free trade' all these US companies are so big on is NOT for consumers.

Peter R.

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Joke

@ Niall Campbell

'How long is a piece of string?'

invariablely 27 inches, but what has that got to do with iPoo's?

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Unhappy

problem is UK law not US

Look not to defend Apple or any other US company but they are just playing by the current laws in the UK. If you don't like the laws quit voting for Labour. Its not like in the US where you have a large geographical region (the southeastern) who keep putting the same "pious" corrupt morons in charge. We should have just let them form their own country and accepted bordering two third world countries.

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