Australia’s federal government held an inquiry into price gouging from international technology companies. In New Zealand we do nothing.
It seems we’re more inclined to grin and bear overcharging. Or are we?
Like New Zealanders, Australians pay as much as 50% more than Americans to buy the same tech products even after taking GST into account.
There’s some limited justification for paying extra for hardware products. Our retailers buy in smaller quantities so lose economies of scale. Lower sales mean overheads per sold item are higher.
Freighting stuff to far-flung towns adds a few percent to prices. And our tougher consumer protection laws give us better rights to return shonky products than most Americans enjoy.
Added together these might conceivably make our hardware prices 10% or so higher than US prices.
But there’s no justification whatsoever when software companies charge us more for downloaded goods. None whatsoever. Does it costs a software company anything more to shovel its bits and bytes across the Pacific than to send them down the road to an address in California.
Likewise support is often international and experiences shows there’s no correlation between the amount one pays for software and the quality of after sales support.
If there is an additional cost it will be one or two cents – less than a rounding error even for smartphone apps which can sell for a dollar or two. For full-blown software suites selling for upwards of $100, those charges won’t even register.
Adobe taking advantage
Adobe sells its software online in New Zealand with prices in Australian dollars. As Lifehacker’s Angus Kidman points out in Adobe Still Overcharging Australians these prices are 33% higher than US prices.
New Zealand companies wanting Adobe’s professional design products like InDesign and Photoshop have no choice. There are no practical no-compromise alternatives for either application. My guess is consumers vote with their feet and either go without, make do with an alternative or simply use a pirated copy. Personally, I use vastly outdated versions of the core applications.
So why aren’t we as angry as Australians about overcharging? My guess is part of the explanation is because we’re more used to being at the end of the queue in the eyes of international companies. We’ve found coping mechanisms. And those who are truly angry are probably doing something about it, something that isn’t legal.
- Adobe Still Overcharging Australians (lifehacker.com.au)
- Price gouging: it is all about consumer convenience, see (crikey.com.au)