Dinosaur retailers turn on Australia Post rather than ripoff local distributors

Check out the old retail dinosaurs whinging about competition and demanding government put an end to it:

AUSTRALIA’S biggest retail lobby group has scathingly attacked Australia Post action that it believes helps offshore online retailers at the expense of local shops and jobs.

In a submission to the Productivity Commission, the National Retail Association also singled out Visa and eBay for their stance on the shaky Australian retail sector, arguing Visa’s position that it could not collect GST on online purchases was driven by self-interest.

The association, which represents big retail chains such as Target, Myer and Country Road, dismissed submissions to the inquiry that argued the cost of collecting GST on incoming goods worth less than $1000 would exceed any tax revenue.

They’re complaining about Australia Post making it easy for consumers to buy goods like DVDs and videogames overseas where they’re half the price because of the fat margins local distributors and retailers gouge from Australians. For some reason the retailers would rather attack Australia Post than demand a better deal from distributors, and the distributors would rather lose sales to piracy and overseas sales than charge anything approaching a reasonable price.

Fortunately there’s no Australian government at the moment dumb enough to piss off voters by shutting down their access to overseas goods. If the retailers want to compete, then they’ll have to actually compete, rather than just demanding the competition be shut down.

How many will collapse before they realise that? I’m mildly curious.

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16 responses to “Dinosaur retailers turn on Australia Post rather than ripoff local distributors

  1. I buy whenever I can on line. I have bought some software and computer parts overseas. I am afraid the tax I am avoiding is negligible. Most of what I buy is not available here or much too expensive.

    Most of my Internet shopping is from within Australia

  2. A private business operating out of self-interest? Yes, I can see how these retailers went into business purely to provide jobs, pay taxes that help the Australian community and be nice to dogs. Is it their fault that in good years they make a profit, throw wads of cash at executives and have to pay dividends? They would much rather help an old lady across the road but those are the rules.

    These guys sound so much like the music industry. When threatened with fundamental change, they would much rather make their customers hate them so much that we’ll come running back into their loving embrace. Stable door open, horse bolted.

  3. narcoticmusing

    Government needs to stay the hell out of businesses business… oh, except when tax payers prop us up by completely funding our risk while we still pay our executives outrageous salaries justified by them taking on significant risk… oh and except when someone else dares to be self interested (VISA) when we really need them to think of our interests…

    I love it, retailers bitching about a for profit company being self-interested. Oh the humanity. Clearly, commerce is about companies like VISA being fiduciaries to the retail sector… oh wait, you mean they are all meant to be prudent arms length bargains that they all have power to manage themselves?

  4. Jeremy
    They’re complaining about Australia Post making it easy for consumers to buy goods like DVDs and videogames overseas where they’re half the price because of the fat margins local distributors and retailers gouge from Australians.

    Why ponce about with DVDs? If you get a UK digital-download version (through services like Steam), you’re looking at the cost being halved again. For titles or expansions you can’t even get here.

  5. Splatterbottom

    One thing private enterprise hates above all else is the competition a free market brings. Australia is an expensive country precisely because the lack of competition allows dominant market players to raise prices. In this case the retailers are scared of the competition arising as new entrants enter via the internet. As Adam Smith said:

    “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

  6. ‘Why ponce about with DVDs? If you get a UK digital-download version (through services like Steam), you’re looking at the cost being halved again. For titles or expansions you can’t even get here.”

    Unfortunately Steam lets publishers apply regional pricing, so a lot of new games on it are 90USD from Australia, but 50USD if you’re in the US. FOR A DIGITAL COPY with negligible distribution costs, that you can’t resell, etc.

    There must be some Australians paying these ripoff prices, and I wish they’d stop.

    “As Adam Smith said:”

    When I hear that quote, it’s in Leonard Nimoy’s voice from Civ 4.

  7. narcoticmusing

    I only buy games on Steam during their holiday period sales – great prices then.

  8. Unfortunately Steam lets publishers apply regional pricing

    They didn’t used to – ****** prokaryotes. What about GamersGate (UK)?

    Some devs sell an undercutting download through their own websites (at least those whose games don’t spend their first year spawning game-breaking bugs – so no money for you ElectronicArts).

    Obviously I can’t advocate Torrent, but in the case of music, few of us will ever buy another CD.

    btw – what’s Aussie Post got to do with it? The clothing, boots and DVD films I get from British Columbia come by the same couriers that service Gerry Harvey.

  9. Ronson Dalby

    On a rare ‘real-time’ shopping expedition last Saturday (except for groceries I probably do 95% of my shopping online these days), I spent $98 in a store (about 15 items) and was charged 10c for a plastic bag which really pi$$ed me off especially as I’d already paid by EFTPOS and didn’t have 10c (or any other coins) and had to break a $20 note.

    In another store on the same day, I bought 4 items of a particular brand which offered a free design leaflet if you bought 5 of that brand products. I also bought 9 similar items but a different brand. I asked the counter person if I could have the leaflet because of my multiple purchases and they said no.

    Now I don’t think I was being unreasonable but one thing’s guaranteed: I won’t shop at those stores again particularly as all their products are available online cheaper anyway.

    Granted if they had been smaller shops not retail chains, I’m sure the shopkeeper not have been so inflexible.

  10. It’s getting worse with Steam.

    a) more and more companies have started jacking up steam prices for Australians (see http://www.steamprices.com/au/ ). It largely used to be just 2K Games, but in the last 3-6 months almost all the major publishers have jumped on board with gouging us a good $30-40 a title.

    b) It appears to be the case that the soon to be released Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which is $20 more here compared to the US, will have it’s boxed copies region locked so that they will only activate on a Steam account identical to the region they were sold in, thus preventing you from importing a cheaper boxed copy. (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2011/08/17/deus-ex-human-revolution-is-region-locked/#more-69721)

    Clearly the benefits of globalisation are for corporations only, keep your grubby little consumer hands off them…

  11. “It appears to be the case that the soon to be released Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which is $20 more here compared to the US, will have it’s boxed copies region locked so that they will only activate on a Steam account identical to the region they were sold in, thus preventing you from importing a cheaper boxed copy.”

    That’s insane. Well, I won’t be buying that game then. Plenty of others to keep me occupied.

    Frankly, since Minecraft I can barely justify paying $50 for a game, and they’re just making it easier to stick to that.

    “a) more and more companies have started jacking up steam prices for Australians (see http://www.steamprices.com/au/ ). It largely used to be just 2K Games, but in the last 3-6 months almost all the major publishers have jumped on board with gouging us a good $30-40 a title.

    Let’s hope other Australians STOP BUYING GAMES FROM THEM THEN.

  12. Or explore MMOs – two-thirds of the more addictive ones are free (if an ad-banner or reduced character slots counts as “free”, in the stingier cases). And more secure and less buggy than anything EArse or Microshaft will puke up.

  13. “Well, I won’t be buying that game then.”

    You might be missing out then.

    That has me soooo torn. I rarely buy video games don’t have a console – my computer can deal with HL2 thats about it, but the first DX was really video game as art, as far as all that goes. A FPS you can complete without killing anything if you don’t want to. I know someone online who torrented the leaked levels and reckons it lives up to or surpasses the legend.

    I was gonna buy (well build) a new computer (finally) specifically to play DX HR. (Don’t have a console) Talk about conflicted. I was actually gonna make a point of buying this game because of the whole paying for peoples work you appreciate thing. But region locking changes all that.

  14. I think in this case the old retail dinosaurs have a legitimate beef.

    For some reason to do with international agreements, Australia Post subsidises international mail prices by jacking up domestic mail prices.

    So even if a local dinosaur creates an online store, the mail price for the domestic service is artificially more expensive than it should be.

  15. Back in ’95, writing the Internet Banking strategy for a major bank, we identified that the probable big winner from the internet would be the companies that delivered the “analogue” goods.

    So it no surprise that Aussie Post is doing well (and should do better) out of on-line shopping.

  16. Ronson Dalby

    “Australia Post subsidises international mail prices by jacking up domestic mail prices”

    My local post office quoted me $82 to return a Kindle (weighs less than a paperback) to the US registered and insured. If that’s subsidised then I hate to think what the ‘real charge’ would be.

    PS Kindles are sent from the US via express air courier for $22 and arrive at their destination usually within 3-4 days. Makes Auspost look very expensive, doesn’t it?

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