The Australian dollar has been near parity with the US for some time, but situations where purchasers in Australia are charged a premium simply for being Australian remain distressingly common. That arrangement seems particularly offensive when it comes to digital goods — after all, they’re not already sitting in a warehouse somewhere.
Mark at our sibling title and bible of all things gaming Kotaku highlighted an interesting example last week. While most massively multiplayer online (MMO) games charge a US dollar subscription rate regardless of player location, the newly-launched DC Universe has a separate price for Australians, $19.95. That makes it costlier than the US price of $14.99, and there’s no extra benefits (such as local servers) to offset that difference.
This apparent shift in policy/blatant example of money-grabbing has gamers pretty cranky, as Mark explains:
The main issue is the fact that this extra cost was not advertised anywhere – users were only made aware of the extra cost after purchasing the game.
Sony has promised to make the difference clearer to consumers, but has stopped way short of anything like a commitment to stop the practice. But it’s hardly alone. Apple continues to charge a higher price for music and apps through iTunes for Australians, for no obvious reason other than it can.
Being charged in Australian dollars does have one benefit — you don’t get hit with credit card conversion fees, which are near universal for non-AU-dollar transactions. But some companies manage to double that sting: Microsoft has slugged customers with Singapore conversion charges when they buy Windows Phone 7 apps in Australian dollars.
I suspect these examples are just the tip of the iceberg. What other digital goods deals make you feel ripped off simply for being Australian? Tell us in the comments.