Aussie Government To Go Ahead With Price Inquiry, Microsoft And Apple In Its Sights

This has been a long time coming. Heck, we might finally make some headway where our distant sauropod ancestors failed all those millions of years ago. At least, that's how long it feels like Australians have endured outrageous price differences on products like Microsoft Office and Adobe's Creative Suite, compared to the United States. While you have the inconvenient option of going overseas for these products, you really shouldn't have to.

Image: Cimexus / Flickr

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy yesterday give the inquiry his blessing, though things won't officially get under way until later this year, according to a story today in The Age. All the big names will be asked by the House of Representatives to come up with proper reasons for their gouging ways, including Microsoft, Apple and Adobe, though Labor MP Ed Husic believes the likes of Canon and Lenovo should also be looked at with closer scrutiny.

The Age mentions that last year, the Productivity Commission published a report that said price gouging was "one of the key reasons for the rise in consumers shopping on foreign websites", a fact I'm sure doesn't surprise anyone. The arguments we always hear from these companies — the size of the market, support costs, taxes and duties, etc — were found to be "not persuasive" by the Commission, says Husic.

I reckon most people would have swallowed a five, even 10 per cent price difference, but when you're asked to fork out numbers in the 50-80 per cent range (and sometimes higher)... well, that's just having a laugh, really.

IT giants in price probe [The Age]


Comments

    Adobe. Adobe. Adobe !!! Can't wait to see them try and weasel their way out of this.

    It's about time the Govt stood up and did something.. if for no other reason than The Govt themselves must be HUGE customers of all these companies and have getting reamed the same as the rest of us. Except the Govt is spending my money to do it... and yours.

      Trend Micro one of the best antivirus software makers also ripps off Australian Customers. At today's date (4 June 2012) their product Titanium 2012 is $129.95 via their Australian website and $69.97 via their US website. I contacted their Australian HQ and was told that price difference was due to economies of scale in the US...also told it was probably cheaper again for Asian consumers. Will try and see if I can buy the US version and download it.

      Me too, no excuse for Adobe's pricing, the only reason they've even given for the way the rip us off is because the can, the government needs to act, at least with hardware there's a cost getting here and selling it.

    Thank God... shopping will be much more fun :)

    They should take a look at Epson as well. Ink Cartridges for the same high end printers are 50% more in Australia. Did not like the way the SMH did a price comparison on the iMac using the latest $AUS without accounting for the fact that the AUS princes include GST and the Apple ones don't. I also didn't think it fair to price OS X Server 10.6 when it is no longer for sale. OS X Server 10.7 is far more comparatively priced.

    Waste of taxpayer's money. Don't buy if it's expensive. Buy cheaper alternatives.

      Not that simple. As much as we like to pretend there aren't monopolies, try being a design business without Creative Suite. There is simply no sensible alternative.

        So buy it form the US store at half the price.

        It's not difficult, perfectly legal, and you get exactly the same product.

          Regional coding - sometimes digiatl media is formatted to only work in certain countries. Sometimes you can be forking out for stuff that's programmed to be incomaptible with your computer so overseas importing is not an option, particularly for stuff like DVDs and video games.

            *digital

    Why stop there? Why not: cars, petrol, books, electronic goods? All of these are massively cheaper overseas, or the claimed markets Australia buys from do not account for the retail price we pay.

    When individuals can ship items from overseas on a per unit basis, cheaper than we can buy in store, you know it is a rort.

      True but we have to take this one step at a time atleast it's looking more likely even if it is only slightly

      petrol? goto NZ where its 2.70 a litre.

        So? They're idiots if they can't ship petrol from Australia for less than $1 a litre

    Adobe, Office, games, playstations, cameras, etc. Go nuts, but...

    I think at least in the hardware stakes apple products are where they should be once you add the effect of gst, higher per person costs for headquarters and so on. Any difference i was able to get rid of by wrangling a discount by ordering from a local pc store.

      Agreed, I have to admit that Apple has really brought its Australian prices in line with their US counterparts when you take into account the various taxes and duties.

      Adobe on the other hand .... *shakes fist*

    They shouldn't just stop at prices for software. The price difference between Australia and other countries for Lego huge. The Lego Super Star Destroyer was $400 in America but $700 here, yet they ship from Europe.

    It's great that they're addressing the issue, but I have to ask the question - What can they do about it? Shake their finger at these companies and say "Naughty, naughty! Drop your prices or we'll go sit in the corner and sulk"? What power does the government think they have over price-gouging companies?

      Well can't the government force a company to cease trading if they don't comply with regulations? If the ACCC says lower your prices and companies don't provide them with a valid reason (for example, higher shipping costs to a country or town means an increase in price is justifiable if it's solely to cover costs), then they can be prevented from trading in Australia via the courts.

    Its worse than you guys seem to think! After living in America for 10 years then coming back home to Australia 2 years ago I can tell you its not only software but also electronics, cars, food, house wares, jewellery, internet, phones, movie's, make-up, craft supples, paint, toys, sport equipment, clothes, shoes, cameras, hardware supplies, cds, video games, pet supplies. Practically everything!
    I remember picking up a creative zen vision m 60 gig model several years ago for $290 at walmart, then reading on a creative forum that in Australia some guy paid over $1000 for the same model here in Australia. I check creatives Australian site and seen it was for sale for more than $800. I was shocked! I am glad the government is starting to do something about the prices here. It really is an outrage. We currently have the worlds best economy and we are paying out the ass for stuff. Something needs to be done. This is a good start.

    @ Nikki
    Your right, the government is powerless when it comes to large companies, but they do have the power to look in to it and find out why things are so expensive. The government cannot actually do anything about the issue but the general consumer can, but most of us Australian consumers don't even know this issue exists and those that do, don't know the extent of the problem. The government looking into the issue is a good start, once the issue has been looked into and it can be proven that GST and import tariffs and not the main reason things are so expensive here, the issue will be made more widely known, once most of Australia is aware, Australian consumers together have the power to stop this from happening.

    Last year I emailed Microsoft about the price difference. Main body of my email:
    Here are the figures for download versions. American Dollars, Australian Dollars. Approximate dollar difference, price increase.
    Windows 7 Home Premium:
    199.99USD, 299.99AUD. $100 difference, 50% increase.
    Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade:
    119.99USD, 199.99AUD. $80 difference, 66.67% increase.
    Windows 7 Home Premium Family Upgrade:
    149.99USD, 249.99AUD. $100 difference, 66.67% increase.
    Windows 7 Professional:
    299.99USD, 449.00AUD. $149.01 difference, 49.67% increase.
    Windows 7 Professional Upgrade:
    199.99USD, 399.00AUD. $199.00 difference, 99.50% increase.
    Windows 7 Ultimate:
    319.99USD, 469.00AUD. $149.01 Difference, 46.56% increase.
    Windows 7 Ultimate Upgrade:
    219.99USD, 429.00AUD. $209.01 diference, 95% increase.

    I'd like to point out that at the time of writing (13/02/1011,) according to www.xe.com, 100 USA Dollars will buy 99.82 Australian Dollars. A negligible difference.

    Disgusting.

      I went to buy a copy of Expression Web Upgrade recently and discovered this. So I bought is from the US online store and reformatted my address to fit their US addresses only format checker. I got my identical download 50% cheaper.

    One word....IKEA
    How can something that's made in Indonesia be almost 80% more expensive in Australia compared to USA, when it's cheaper to ship it here.

    I understand a little bit about hardware being so expensive as we are quite a small market. But there seems to be little to no excuse about software, especially if you can download it straight from the company's website. I'm glad the government is doing something about it.

    about damn time!

    I have met Ed Husic on a couple of occasions - he's a bright, smart former engineer turned politician. I have no doubt that this is something which is genuinely ticking him off, and which he'll pursue with vigour.

    Sadly, Conroy's involvement gives me pause, though. I see no redeeming qualities in Conroy.

    BTW, for this who think this will help the government's procurement, that's a little naive. Sorry. Government software procurement happens at well below retail prices, often at a small fraction of list price. This won't impact that. However, the vendors do often recover their margin and/or bundling discounts in the maintenance agreements.

    How about Autodesk! They are just as bad!

    Add a few more to the list:
    Sony eReader: 40% more expensive in Australia vs USA (Sony Australia customer service told me the difference was because of "different power cables required for Australia") Right. IT'S USB CHARGING ONLY!
    Kindle Touch.USA:$99.00 Australia: $139.00 + shipping -- 40% premium

    There are a thousand more examples everywhere you look.

    And unless you want to get really angry, don't even get started on the subjects of books!

    No wonder internet shopping is booming and our retail section is falling off the face of the planet. I refuse to pay double for something in-store when i can get it at a fraction of the costs delivered for free to my home. Great example - books! even a novel thats been out for years might still go for $35...bookdepository.co.uk...probably about $13-$15.... even cheaper if they are running a sale. Whats our incentive to not source the best price in such an expensive country? there isn't one!

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