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The Great Apple Rip Off

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 02/11/2011

It is well known Aussies get ripped off buying Apple products compared to US consumers. But now its time to get your own back, says consumer watchdog Choice. Australians do get "slugged" by Apple, Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just told Smart House this week.

Click to enlarge

Take the iPad 2 for example. The much revered tablet sells for $499 in the US for the 16GB model, while here it is AU$579. The 11 inch 64GB MacBook Air retails for $999 in the US, but the very same model goes for $100 more here.

But Apple's new Thunderbolt displays are among the worst offenders to Aussie pockets costing up to $300 and $270 more here.

And ditto with the newly unleashed iPod Touch on iOS 5 and dual cameras selling for $219 here, while is $20 cheaper Stateside.

Choice also pointed out other worrying price discrepencies - noting the cost of some of the top music albums recently cost, on average, 73% more on the Australian iTunes store than the US equivalent.

The issue taps into the dominant position Apple has in the Australian market, and is particularly apparent when purchasing via Apple Store, Just adds.

"We've spoke out against it in the past and so have Fair Trading Australia."

But, it seems, Apple are far from alone in price disparities between here and elsewhere.

In a recent submission to the Productivity Commission's retail inquiry, the watchdog warned of a litany of disparities between many goods sold in Australian stores and those purchased online from overseas are "significant and often economically unjustifiable."

And it seems particularly unjust on Aussie consumers considering the close parity between US and Aussie dollar in recent times, with the Aussie dollar at its strongest against the greenback, currently US $1=AU$0.965 which would suggest prices should be almost identical.

But not so.

And Apple would want to be careful in its sluggish behaviour, since 60 percent of its market is outside the US, it confirmed at recent Q3 earnings announcement last month.

The Cupertino kings coffers are bulging at the seams - revenue of $28.27 billion, net profit of $6.62bn, an 85% jump compared on 2010, and has more cash reserves than the US government.
Asia Pacific, which includes Australia, was the best performing region for Macs in latest third quarter, and enjoyed a whopping 61% y-o-y growth but also appears to be important for tablets, considering Cupertino's dramatic attempts to block the sale of iPad 2 Android rival, Samsung's Galaxy 10.1, here.

And even politicians are voicing strong views on the issue, with Labor MP and member for Chifley, Ed Husic, raising the issue in parliament several times, most recently in a speech in September where he claimed Australians are being "ripped off" by overpriced goods, Apple included.

Husic also called for an enquiry by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and was meant to meet with Apple Australian MD, Tony King, by July this year to discuss the issue, athough was scheduled to meet more recently after the timeline was passed.

There has been no word if this meeting has taken place.

"Apple refused to respond and I am staggered by their behaviour: they've snubbed consumer, media and parliamentary interest in this matter," Husic said in September.

So, how can Apple consumers avoid these massive rip-off's? Two ways: shop around or boycott altogether, says Just.

If you do wish to buy Apple, shop around at accredited retailers and Apple resellers , not just  the Apple Store.

But if you can mange to wean yourself off the white allure of iPod and iPhone 4S, then look for alternatives.

Acknowledging Australians deep "attachment" to Apple and its cult items like Mac and iPhone "but there are other brands" out there.

Look for products with similar specs as there is better value out there, she says.
Or, it you are really desperate you could get a knockoff device, as SmartHouse reported today, although this is probably not very advisable (or safe!).

Read Brandjacked! Knockoff iPad 2 Soar

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