On my recent trip to the US it was fun that my previously measly Oz dollars bought nearly US$1.10. But another thing that illustrated was what a poor deal we get on many global goods and services. Before I went I investigated getting noise cancelling headphones. I didn’t want heavy things to carry so ended up with Sony earplugs – which I’d been told were not much good. I was right. Bose noise cancelling headphones perform really impressively but I didn’t want to carry an additional fat paperback sized parcel with me – and I didn’t want to pay AUD$500 for them (OK $495).
Likewise I swore that once Apple released a Macbook air that was small enough for me (11″) I’d buy it. But I couldn’t get it with 250 Gigs with all the Australian Apple salespeople telling me there wasn’t room on the unit for 250 Gigs like the 13″ unit. Well that wasn’t true in the US so I bought one there (I’ll post about my unsure journey from Windows back to Mac – I’m not so sure it’s better). And it was a good deal cheaper. And in the Mac store there were Bose noise cancelling earphones. The price US$299! They were the very same ones.
On my way home I rented a movie on Apple iTunes – Mao’s Last Dancer. It was US$3.99 but even though I was in LA, I’d signed in under my old apple ID and it wouldn’t rent me the movie. I offered it to me for AU$5.99! At least this is a product of Australia’s policy idiocy of helping global monopolists carve out Australia as a market to milk optimally (for them) by prohibiting parallel imports. Can anyone tell me if Bose can get the same kind of protection or whether it just uses its existing monopoly over its brand to enforce its pricing strategy. Anyway, there are oodles of these examples. I recently bought David Deutche’s The Beginning of Infinity from Amazon for $28 or thereabouts – including postage. The Australian price at the time was $49,99 though I saw it at Readings the other day for $44. That’s ridiculous (though bans on parallel imports are some part of the reason).
Anyway, this kind of stuff should be easy pickings for the populist media – and likewise for some enterprising politician or two. Moreover I would have thought that with quite a few of the firms involved, one might be able to influence their behaviour – they’re very protective of their brands. Not too sure how long they’d hold out against a decent campaign like this: “Dear Amar, What does Bose have against Australians?” ”Dear Tim, What do you and what did St Steve have against Australians?” Well who knows, but it’s worth a try.