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Australians paying up to 50 per cent more for digital content

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choicethumbAustralians are paying up to 50 per cent more for music downloads, PC and console games, software and hardware than the US, according to consumer watchdog Choice.

In Choice’s submission to the parliamentary inquiry into IT pricing, it said Australians are the victims of price discriminations from copyright holders.

“Our research found price differences across every IT product we looked at, including iTunes downloads, PC games, personal and business software, Wii console games and computer hardware,” says Choice Head of Campaigns, Matt Levey.

“This situation disadvantages all consumers, but it creates even more barriers to the digital economy for people on low incomes or in remote areas.”

Choice’s research revealed Australians pay, on average, 52 per cent more than US consumers for the same top 50 iTunes songs and an average of 34 per cent more than for a selection of the most popular home and business software.

But excuses for the inflated prices from retailers and IT suppliers including wages, rent and shipping have been rejected by Choice.

“These 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,” says Mr Levey.

Choice’s key recommendations to the combat the price discrimination include:

* Retain the low value threshold (LVT) exemption for GST and duty on imported products at $1000.

* Educate consumers about their rights when shopping online about returns and refunds, privacy and security and the ability to access similar good legitimately from overseas.

* A Federal Government investigation to see if measures such as region coding or identifying Australian customers by their IP addresses – which discriminates against Australian customers – should be allowed to continue.

“Ultimately, an effective way to bring Australian IT prices into line with those overseas is to increase competition between large international suppliers and parallel importers who sell genuine IT products, but at cheaper prices,” says Mr Levey.

You can read the complete Choice submission here.

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