Rip-Off Britain, Again

A few years ago there was a big furore because they found that in the UK we were overpaying for cars. Not just imported cars, even those we produced. I remember they looked at an MG-F sports car, which you could buy new and import from Japan cheaper than you could going to your local Rover dealer. Not so long ago there was a big uproar because Brits pay more for petrol than practically any other nation on Earth (there are a couple that pay more I think).

Ironically, today I read an article that stated “the average UK person will this year have a greater income than their US counterpart for the first time since the 19th Century.” It did go on to say “however, because goods and services are cheaper in the US, Americans will have stronger purchasing power.”

Well, it’s not just cars and petrol (which is partly because of high taxes) we get stiffed on, it’s practically everything. Take Vista for example, there’s a fantastic interview (courtesy of YouTube, look about 1:09 in, will people ever escape saying stupid thing on TV again?) where Bill Gates thinks that the exchange rate is responsible for the UK paying more for copies of vista, in fact, twice as much as stated in this article. Take a look on Amazon right now. Amazon.com lists Vista Ultimate at $329.99, on Amazon.co.uk Vista Ultimate is listed at £329.98. Using the wonderful Universal Currency Converter shows it should be £167.69, as it stands we’re paying the equivalent of $649.34! And that’s at an exchange rate of $1.96781/£1, which is lower than it has been.

Microsoft are far from the only ones. Just take a look at Apple flagship product, Leopard. The US Apple store lists Leopard at $129, equivalent to about £65, yet the UK store lists it as £85. (Incidentally, Leopard looks a serious bargain by comparison here). This carries over to hardware to:

  • MacBook – $1,099 (£558.60) vs £699 ($1,375) – $276 more
  • MacBook Pro – $1,999 (£1016) vs £1299 ($2,555) – $556 more
  • Mac Mini – $599 (£304) vs £399 ($784) – $185 more
  • iMac – $1,199 (£609) vs £799 ($1,571) – $372 more
  • Mac Pro – $2,499 (£1,270) vs £1,699 ($3,342) – $843 more
  • iPod Touch – $299 (£151) vs £199 ($391) – $92 more
  • iPhone – $399 (£202) vs £269 ($529) – $130 more
  • Dell XPS M1330 – $999 (£507) vs £649 ($1,276) – $277 more

The argument with hardware is shipping (which is daft, it all comes from China anyway). It exists even with downloadable software though: Quicktime Pro is $29.99 (£15.24) at the US store for example, but £20 ($39.33) in the UK! iTunes tracks are 99 cents (50p) in the US, but 79p (£1.55) in the UK store.

I know there is more too this and tax rates and shipping and import duty, etc, all play a part, but just when will Britain start getting treated fairly on price or are we always going to be subsidising the rest of the world?

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