Global tech retailers sell their products in Australia with unjustifiable higher price tags when compared to other key markets, according to consumer advocate group Choice.
Digital products, both physical and downloadable, were priced about 30 to 50 percent higher when purchased in and from Australia, Choice chief campaigner Matt Levey said on his group's submission before the parliamentary inquiry on IT Pricing in the country.
In one instance, a specific Microsoft program is being sold in the country at a very expensive price that local buyers would actually save a few thousand bucks by getting on a plane to the United States and purchase the product themselves.
Virtually all IT products in the country were marketed locally at too steep price levels, Mr Levey said, and largely to blame is the discriminating attitude of international copyright holders against Australian consumers.
This led to music downloads in Australia costing more by up to 52 percent and software acquisitions requiring 34 percent of more cash, he added.
The practice is totally without basis as Choice scored the usual excuse of firms like Apple and Microsoft that bringing their products to Australia costs more.
"(IT products) products are largely identical, regardless of where you buy them. In some cases, such as iTunes downloads, there are practically no overheads in delivering the product to Australian consumers," Mr Levey was reported by The Sydney Morning Herald as saying in the Choice research.
Also, Choice debunked claims by many retailers that the high GST threshold on imports was mainly to blame for the unreasonable price levels of IT products in Australia.
The price differences that reach as high as 50 percent cannot be entirely attributed to the GST in the first place, the consumer watchdog said, stressing too that "the GST simply cannot account for the price differences in IT hardware and software."
"And lowering the threshold would significantly disadvantage Australian consumers shopping online," Mr Levey pointed out.
The whole situation is hurting the local setting, in which consumers were obviously being ripped off while at the same time erecting "even more barriers to the digital economy for people on low incomes or in remote areas."
Choice submitted its findings following an earlier report by the government that also blamed global IT product distributors for the price disparities.
The same submission argued against regulatory intervention by Australian authorities, holding on to its contention that eventually market forces will correct the anomaly.
As local consumers explore other avenues to get a hold on digital products at more affordable price levels, distributors will be compelled to bring down the price tags, the government submission said.
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