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Aussie Retailers Lobby For Tax On Online Purchases

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the that-guy's-shackles-are-too-light dept.

Australia 203

An anonymous reader writes "Major Australian retailers are running a print advertising campaign to get the government to decrease the amount where the Goods and Services tax (Australian sales tax) comes into effect for all online purchases. Currently, the tax free amount is at $1000 AUD for online purchases. The retailers, such as Target, Harvey Norman, David Jones, Myer and others, are lobbying through newspapers and are considering launching a television commercial. The print adverts are claiming that if the amount remains the same, Australian jobs will be lost and the economy will be harmed. This is facing a massive backlash from consumers, and the government's assistant treasurer said it was an action by stores to fix the issues affecting them."

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Seems unfair to me (0)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788250)

It seems unfair to have one set of rules for online retailers and another for brick and mortar retailers. I can't blame them for complaining. Why should they have to compete with a store that faces a lower tax rate?

Re:Seems unfair to me (3, Insightful)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788276)

It's not online retailers, it's overseas retailers. They want to charge tax on all imports, no matter the amount, so that you won't even be able to import a pair of $50 shoes without them taxing it.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788324)

Yeah you're right I should say it's unfair to Aussie online retailers as well, but that's the point the Aussie retailers have to pay GST on any goods they sell you. It's nice not to pay tax, but it would also be nice to have a tax system not structured in such a way that it puts Australian businesses at a disadvantage over their overseas competitors and potentially forces them and the jobs they create off shore.

Either you're charging GST on every purchase or your not.

For the record I don't think this will rescue Harvey Norman or Myer or anyone. They're price gouging arseholes, but I don't think the government should be taxing some business and not others.

Re:Seems unfair to me (4, Interesting)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788382)

Yeah you're right I should say it's unfair to Aussie online retailers as well, but that's the point the Aussie retailers have to pay GST on any goods they sell you. It's nice not to pay tax, but it would also be nice to have a tax system not structured in such a way that it puts Australian businesses at a disadvantage over their overseas competitors and potentially forces them and the jobs they create off shore.

Either you're charging GST on every purchase or your not.

For the record I don't think this will rescue Harvey Norman or Myer or anyone. They're price gouging arseholes, but I don't think the government should be taxing some business and not others.

The problem is it isn't the consumers who really pay the tax, it's the retailers. How exactly do you propose that the government tax overseas retailers. I can think of a few options but each one of them forces me to think be careful what you wish for . What you and the retailers seem to support is not good for anybody at all except for the government.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788418)

And there will still be jobs, but not at the retailers - it's instead at the delivery companies.

However - tax on overseas is already what is applied to products entering Europe. VAT and customs fee is added by the customs office.

Re:Seems unfair to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788426)

GST is a whopping 10%.

Last thing I ordered from overseas (a HDMI-4 cable) was less than 10% of the retail price I was quoted ($12 vs $180).
I'd gladly pay an extra 10% making it a huge $13.20 and still buy from overseas. That price was including postage BTW.

The problem here is the fools who run the large companies who insist on marking things up excessively because they've been able to in the past.
If you can't compete, die.

The reason GST is charged for items over $1000 is the cost of administering it. The government doesn't want the hassles of dealing with "small" sums & I agree completely. Our taxes are high enough already.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

((hristopher _-*-_-* (956823) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788550)

You can find these for as little as $9 in Australia...

http://www.kogan.com.au/shop/hdmi-cable-v14-3-metres-gold-plated/ [kogan.com.au]

I call BS on the $12 with International postage too. Where did you order it from?

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

a.koepke (688359) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788584)

There are sites out there which are cheap and have free postage. A good example is DealExtreme [dealextreme.com] - $7.20 for a HDMI cable with free postage. That isn't the cheapest on the site, they go from $4.52!

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788630)

I haven't checked the prices, but DealExtreme http://dealextreme.com/ [dealextreme.com] has some insane prices.
Every price you see on the site there is in USD and INCLUDES international shipping anywhere in the world.
I think the only way they can do it is by being subsidised by the Chinese Government.

I've quite literally bought items off that site for a couple of dollars and had them turn up in my post box 7-10 days later. I'm amazed, so much so that when I've had issues with the products (and at those prices you can't honestly expect it to be 100%) that it would cost me more to return it than it would to purchase another one. They seem to realise this though and it's only in extreme cases that you need to return defective or incorrect items...

And, I've bought HDMI cables from there before - digital cables are digital cables (for sensible lengths anyway) and my PS3 is working perfectly in 1080p to my LCD TV and has been for a couple of years now.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

SlightOverdose (689181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788940)

What the fuck? I've just checked them out and am flabergasted. You're probably right about the subsidy thing; the shipping alone would be more expensive than many of the items they sell.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788952)

And, if you're looking for similar stuff, plus a lot of more "techie" items, then try out GoodLuckBuy.com [goodluckbuy.com] .

Like DX, they include shipping in all their (very low) prices.

My only question is: who on earth chose that name?

Re:Seems unfair to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788656)

Deal Extreme.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

seifried (12921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788436)

How exactly do you propose that the government tax overseas retailers.

I suppose you could simply tax the packages when they enter the country using something like I dunno... a declared value on the side of the package. Sort of like countries do it now.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

grim-one (1312413) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788474)

The government may not benefit either. Currently they collect GST on individual's imported goods valued at over $1000. The tax gained from the multitude of items with imported valued less than that probably wouldn't outweigh the actual collection costs. Hence why they exclude such low value items from the GST.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788640)

Bingo! This is exactly why they don't collect GST on purchases from overseas, and why when you buy something big, they do hold it in customs till you cough up.

The Government exempting online purchases with less than $100 GST collectable isn't because they're all warm and fuzzy and want to give us a good deal. It's because it would cost more than the GST amount to collect it.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788986)

Here in New Zealand, any consignment which would attract a GST tax of less than NZ$50 is not taxed because collection costs would exceed the $50 to be collected.

However, when GST was recently increased from 12.5% to 15%, they also added an extra fee so that if your package does attract $50 or more of GST, you're also hit with about (from memory) another $28 or so as a "biosecurity fee" or something similar.

How on earth they deduce that only goods that have $50 or more of GST payable might represent a threat to our biosecurity I have no idea -- this is simply a cash-grab.

Of course with teh Chinese issuing fake (grossly undervalued) invoices left, right and center, there's no easy way for Customs to apply these taxes at the border so most stuff comes in tax-free, regardless of its value.

I have had friends who've imported $1,000 RC model aircraft that are 30% of full size. These arrive in *huge* boxes and include the 55cc engine. It has to be obvious that this stuff is worth *far* more than the $125 declared on the box - but it comes through without any GST being demanded.

When I wrote a column about this very subject [aardvark.co.nz] last year it was suggested that the government simply add GST to all overseas credit-card transactions. Of course even that won't work -- because it would mean that those on holiday overseas would be paying tax on goods and services that came nowhere near our country's borders and would thus be patently unfair.

No easy way to solve this issue so let's just ditch the concept of duties and sales-taxes so everyone can enjoy the global shopping that is now available via the internet.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788484)

They don't have use tax like some other people have to pay? I mean, here in Washington state, if I buy from a retailer who doesn't charge sales tax, I'm liable for the tax still. Although, I'm sure a lot of Washingtonians don't know about it, or don't care if they do (and they probably won't get caught as long as it isn't expensive).

I don't know what Australia is like, but here's an idea...
Could they make things revenue neutral by...
i. Implementing an tax on overseas purchases and,
ii. Lowering the GST so things are neutral as before?

Either lowering the percentage, or perhaps exempting some more items to make it a bit more progressive?

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788650)

Could they make things revenue neutral by...
i. Implementing an tax on overseas purchases and,
ii. Lowering the GST so things are neutral as before?

Either lowering the percentage, or perhaps exempting some more items to make it a bit more progressive?

The thing is, even though the retailers are blowing a storm about all this, something like less than 3% of all purchases were made online in Australia over the Christmas break and less than 1% of all purchases were from an overseas retailer. To mess with something as complex and far-reaching as the GST for this miniscule amount would be more trouble than it's worth.

Re:Seems unfair to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34789000)

Currently, if you import goods to Australia for more than AU$1000 you have to pay import taxes.

The Australian retailers want's to lower this amount.

Why? Everyone buys from overseas, because it is cheaper. Why is it cheaper, because Australian retailers are making 300% on everything.

For example, I ride a motorbike. I buy lethers from US for about $900. The same leathers cost here $2200. Even if I pay import tax it is still $1000 difference. So, who explain me, why the Australian retailer sells it so dam expensive? I can get the goods with import tax, postage from US, plus the US retailer makes money, and it is still $1000 cheaper. The answer is, Australian retailers are hungry and they need to make 200% on everything.

So I say, everyone should buy from overseas to push the prises down in Australia and the $1000 limit on import is normal.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788950)

The problem in cases like that is that the state doesn't provide any sort of reasonable way of paying. It should be collected by the retailer, but there again, they don't provide a reasonable way for the retailer to know how much to charge, and given the disparity and the ability of local taxing authorities to tack on extra sales tax, it ends up being a daunting challenge.

Imagine sending the state a check every time you bought something online, even if it were for a few dollars. One of the problems is that the amount of money that it would cost the state to collect those checks would easily cost the tax payers more than the actual tax for most purchases.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788604)

The problem is it isn't the consumers who really pay the tax, it's the retailers.

The retailers have to add 10% GST to their sale price. They get a deduction of GST from their costs. How exactly do they get stuck with paying the GST?

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788614)

The problem is it isn't the consumers who really pay the tax, it's the retailers. How exactly do you propose that the government tax overseas retailers.

Now you need to be careful with your definitions here - I know what you mean though... The consumer does end up paying the GST as they're the end user of the good or service. This GST is collected by the retailer at the point of purchase and paid to the Government. (input credits not withstanding etc...)

What they're proposing is that Customs will hold any imported goods and levy a 10% GST on them before you're allowed to receive them.

There's a very good reason why the Government doesn't do this already, and it's not because they want to give consumers a break. It's simply too much administrative overhead to collect less than $100 worth of GST on a single transaction.

So, what the retailers are wishing for isn't even really good for the Government as it's another layer of red tape and paperwork on EVERY single package that enters the country. It they thought they could make money adding GST onto these purchases, they would have done so already.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

euphemistic (1850880) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788974)

This is exactly at the crux of the matter and should be rated more highly (and mentioned more often). The major retailers are bitching about an amazingly small minority of all purchases and simply want a tax to discourage people to even consider online shopping.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788774)

How exactly does the consumer avoid paying sales tax? If you go into a shop and buy something the price includes tax on top of what ever mark-up the retailer puts on. Sales tax in the UK just went up from 17.5% to 20% and all retailers are passing that on to the consumer, even if they try to mask it with sales and offers.

Taxing overseas purchases is done with import duty and sales tax on imported items. The consumer pays the taxes.

Taxation really needs to be sorted out by going back to the principals rather than the current implementation. For example in the UK there is no sales tax on staple foods, children's clothing or books. There is however tax on electronic books. The principal is that books are vital for learning and an educated population is a good thing so they should be tax free. That should extend to all books on principal. Then again higher education isn't free any more so perhaps books should be taxed too, but either way there should be consistency. If shops have to charge sales tax so should online retailers.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34789048)

The specific problem in the UK comes from European law. VAT is covered by a treaty so that you can buy VAT-paid goods in one EU country and bring them to another without having to pay VAT in the destination. This is intended to gradually harmonise VAT rates, since it means that a country with a high VAT rate will lose out to imports from its neighbours. Signatories were allowed to keep their existing VAT exemptions, but are not allowed to add new ones without permission from Brussels.

(This post has some oversimplifications in it - I have a long letter somewhere from the Treasury explaining exactly what the rules are from when I complained about this issue to my MP a couple of years ago.)

Re:Seems unfair to me (-1, Offtopic)

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Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

OzTech (524154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34789012)

The problem is it isn't the consumers who really pay the tax, it's the retailers. How exactly do you propose that the government tax overseas retailers. I can think of a few options but each one of them forces me to think be careful what you wish for . What you and the retailers seem to support is not good for anybody at all except for the government.

Whoops. Me thinks you hav e no understanding of how our GST works. At the end of the day, the final consumer or purchaser of the goods *always* pays the 10% GST.
When a retailer or any wholesalers purchase any item, they pay 10% GST on that item.
When they on-sell the item (be it wholesale or retail), they charge the next person in the chain 10% GST. They then claim the 10% they paid back and pass on the difference to the Grubbermint.

For anyone involved in manufacture, wholesale, or retail, GST is so much easier and simpler than what we had before (wholesale sales-tax which climed to 22.5%). It is also harder for people to cheat. As a manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, you never need to worry about GST. You pay it and get it back when you on-sell the item, so you don't need to factor GST into anything, because the end user pay it. It is really quite clean and simple.

If people import stuff directly, then Customs will charge them the 10% GST on the declared value. The Customs and Taxation departments have worked out that it is not worth their while to try to get the GST on items which are less than A$1,000- in value. Persumably because someone worked out tha tit costs them more than $100 to collect it. How they did that is beyond me, but it doesn't matter. The Australian Grubbermint does not need to charge the overseas retailer anything, they simply charge the person importing the goods. It really is plain and simple. So plain and simple, that even a moron like Gerrry should be able to understand it.

Gerry, his mate Solomon and the rest of the cronies trying to beat this up are just having a sulk because Australians aren't spending much money at the moment.

Their days of sucking people in with loss-leaders and high-interest interest-free deals are over. They've scammed all of those they can scam, and people are now taking a little longer and looking around. This might involve on-line stores, it might involve catalouges, it might even involve visting other shops. In some instances, people might choose to look overseas, but that would really be the minority.

Their huge markups (typically over 35%) for doing nothing other than employing morons who don't know shit from clay and lie to customers is starting to wear a little thin, but the number of people buying from overseas would be infintesimal. The savings aren't that great and it is a real pain with a high chance of getting ripped-off.

GST has absolutely nothing to do with it.

Re:Seems unfair to me (5, Interesting)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788438)

You know who it's really unfair to?

The taxpayer, who has to pick up the tab for the implementation and border enforcement - of the 20c tax on a $2 cable. Because I'll tell you one thing for free, the overseas retailers won't be collecting and remitting it. Why should they? They've got their own tax laws to ensure compliance with. You start expecting online retailers to comply with taxes in every single country on the planet they sell to, and you're looking at compliance costs jumping up by orders of magnitude. Guess what? Then you're in a situation where online retailers are at a hundred fold disadvantage to brick and mortar stores. So your only option is customs charging it at the border.

There's a reason that governments only charge sales tax on expensive overseas purchases - the administrative cost of charging tax (including biosecurity vetting, staffing costs, storage, payment administration, and all sorts of other expenses). And for bonus points, you have to charge different amounts of tax based on the origin (Free Trade Agreements, or at least ones as one sided as US Free Trade Agreements, tend to forbid charging more tax than the other country charges on imports). So then US online retailers have an advantage over any others. Yay!

I personally feel that anyone who supports this tax probably works for a large Australian (or New Zealand, which tends to mean Australian anyway) retailer. So which one are you?

Re:Seems unfair to me (2)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788440)

You cant always blame the retailer. Sometimes its the local wholesaler/importer who is gouging the Aussie market.
Take for example Burton snowboarding gear. Its much more expensive to walk into a store and buy here (even after accounting for GST and freight costs) than it is to walk into a store in the US and buy the same product.
Same thing with LEGO sets. I can walk into a store in the US and buy the latest LEGO police station for US$100 (or even less if I was to buy from a US online retailer or find it from somewhere selling on sale or below MSRP). The same set is available from a number of Australian retailers (as well as the LEGO online store) for AU$150.
The only reason I cant buy from these stores is because they cant/wont sell to Australians.

I am sure that K-Mart, Big W, MYER, Target etc would LOVE to be paying similar wholesale prices to what Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Target USA, K-Mart USA and other US retailers are paying.

Re:Seems unfair to me (3, Interesting)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788692)

You've nailed this one.

When I can purchase something from overseas for quite literally half the retail price here in Australia, then add a bit of shipping and it's still significantly cheaper, I'd actually be happy to pay another 10% on top as it's STILL cheaper than purchasing the item here in Oz.

This leads to the situation of some large brand names - Canon and Nikon spring to mind, that take advantage of their market position to do everything they can to kill the grey market. If you buy, for example, a Canon DSLR here in Australia, if it's a grey market import (ie, not imported directly by Canon Australia) then Canon will not only refuse to service it under warranty (fair enough I suppose as the product doesn't have an international warranty) but they will actively refuse to perform any work on it whatsoever, even if you want to pay to have it serviced. If it's not an Oz serial number they simply will not touch it.

Now, this is a big deal as I can get a Canon EOS 5D MkII camera body in the USA for $2499 (I'm assuming for the purpose of this exercise that $1AUD = $1USD)
Were I to purchase that very same camera here in Australia, from Canon, for $3599. If I were to turn to eBay instead and get one from Hong Kong, I can get this very same camera for $2300 with free shipping.

Well-respected USA online store: http://www.adorama.com/ICA5DM2.html [adorama.com]
Canon Australia: http://www.canon.com.au/en-AU/For-You/Digital-Cameras/EOS-Digital-SLR-Cameras/5D [canon.com.au]

There have even been times where if you wanted a mid-range or high-end MacBook Pro, it'd be cheaper to fly to the USA, walk into an Apple store, buy the computer and fly home than it would have been to purchase the same machine here in Australia.

The pattern to really high local prices seems to be when the parent company controls the importation and distribution, we all get reamed.

Re:Seems unfair to me (2)

Techman83 (949264) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788524)

The thing is, shipping costs more than the 10% GST in most cases anyway. So there isn't anything to gain from taxing overseas retailers. All it does is make things more complicated to purchase from them, meaning that at the end of the day, the only people that would lose out in that scenario are the consumers. So if the prices were competitive, people would more than likely buy local. I know that's how I operate, international sales are a pain when you need to make a warranty claim.

So IMHO, Gerry Harvey or any of those other large retail chains do not have a right to my money, they can stick their bad customer service and exorbitant prices up their collective coits.

Re:Seems unfair to me (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788428)

Having experienced this kind of anal import policies while I was living in Germany, I cannot stress enough how much you want to avoid this. Not necessarily because of the money(10% of a pair of shoes is what, $5?), but because of the stupid hoops they make you jump through just to get access to your own property. I had an electronic dictionary(one they don't even sell in Germany) sent to me from Japan, and instead of getting it in the mail I instead got a notice that I had to go to Nuremberg, which was over an hour away, and they weren't open on weekends and hardly open at all during the weekday. I went there and saw about 10 young employees standing around essentially doing nothing, eventually they said they would send it to my address in the states so I could collect it when I went home. Long story short they fucked me over and sent it back to the dude I bought it from. Fortunately he gave me most of my money back, but the long and short of it is that the German government spent their own money to deny me my property. Fucking brilliant.

Even for people who don't get fucked over like I did have to take a huge chunk out of their day to trudge over to the zollamt, if they could even get any time off when the stupid thing was open(they steal your shit then don't even have the common decency to have reasonable hours), all so you can spend 30 minutes filling out forms so they can collect 5 euros from you. Seriously, this woman who came it at the same time received some sort of figurine from the US, the thing was maybe, MAYBE worth 30 euros and they still made her do all that stupid shit I think she walked out of there paying them about 5 euros. They probably spent more than that just on the "labor", really it's just a massive employment program with some government manager probably getting a nice fat salary because he has to "manage" all those people.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788960)

It's Germany, they aren't exactly known for being loosy goosy with bureaucracy. It's not at all shocking that they'd be very by the book even if it's kind of silly. This is a bit like going to Italy and complaining because they don't know how to wait in lines.

Re:Seems unfair to me (3, Insightful)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788376)

It seems unfair to have one set of rules for online retailers and another for brick and mortar retailers.

but there isn't. Online Australian retailers operate under the same rules and laws as brick and mortar retailers.

The Australian government realises it does not have power over foreign retailers. The tax free threshold was established to allow cheaper imports and create competition in our stagnant, monopoly dominated retail market.

Read this blog entry of Rulsan Kogan [kogan.com.au] who runs an online store within Australia. Kogan.com.au pays the same taxes and import duties as Harvey Norman but does a much lower volume of sales then HN yet manages a much better price on equivalent (no-name brand) goods.

This is Gerry Harvey and others attempting to foist an artificial barrier to consumer choice and the free market in general. It wont stop at 10% (the GST) because Harvey cant compete with Aussie online retailers, let alone Chinese or US ones.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

((hristopher _-*-_-* (956823) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788596)

I don't think thats accurate at all.

I'd say Gerry Harvey understands that everything is going to online shopping, and also realizes that for him (and others) to stay competitive is to go offshore for warehousing via holding companies.

Thats how most online retailers work, and thats how they get the low prices. Very very low overheads, not having to employ many people in country. Not having to front up the cost for retail outlets and in store warranty on goods.

Gerry Harvey is a very nice guy, and very patriotic.

Re:Seems unfair to me (2)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788702)

realizes

First off, when you pretend to be Australian, step number one is use En_AU

I'd say Gerry Harvey understands that everything is going to online shopping, and also realizes that for him (and others) to stay competitive is to go offshore for warehousing via holding companies.

Flat out wrong. Gerry does understand that a lot of retail is going online, what he doesn't realise is his business model needs to change in order to remain competitive. Already most Australian's would rather shop at other retailers like JB Hifi or Retravision (where I bought an A$500 air conditioner last night) who are at least semi-competitive with online retailers and don't try to push you into predatory "interest free" credit deals (actual interest is quiet high).

Harvey wants online trading to change to suit him rather then changing to be competitive. Complete opposite of what you are saying.

Gerry Harvey is a very nice guy, and very patriotic.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA,

You're talking about the man who played a huge part in killing local competition and manufacturing. He is now part of the retail oligopoly which strangles independent brick and mortar competitors in the infancy.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

((hristopher _-*-_-* (956823) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788838)

First off, when you pretend to be Australian, step number one is use En_AU

Ahh the joy of an internet cafe.

Flat out wrong. Gerry does understand that a lot of retail is going online, what he doesn't realise is his business model needs to change in order to remain competitive.

It's really just a matter of whether or not you believe his reasons for speaking out on it, or the comments from others. He knows exactly what he might need to do, and I believe his reasons for not wanting to do it don't have anything to do with him making 'less' money because it's likely that he would make more.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA,

You're talking about the man who played a huge part in killing local competition and manufacturing. He is now part of the retail oligopoly which strangles independent brick and mortar competitors in the infancy.

So... your an all caps mocking poster then. Typical.

But please, I'm sure you can explain how it was Gerry Harvey that kills local competition and manufacturing, and not China's export economy.

Re:Seems unfair to me (2)

totally bogus dude (1040246) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788736)

Even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, what he's basically saying is that brick and mortar stores are a very inefficient and expensive way to provide goods to people. Rather than improve their efficiency or allow the market to kill off the old and no longer useful ways, we should artificially inflate the cost of more efficient methods of providing goods to people, so that all the methods we have available are equally inefficient.

From a short-term perspective, keeping the jobs etc. sounds good. Long-term though, this sounds a bit like the broken window fallacy.

Re:Seems unfair to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788632)

"It seems unfair to have one set of rules for online retailers and another for brick and mortar retailers."

OK, I'll let you charge GST on overseas purchases, as long as we also make it illegal to charge different overseas online rates depending on geolocation (protectionism)

As an example, a large number of games on the recent steam sales were double the price on the Australian site, compared to the US site. Particularly obvious when the australian dollar has been hovering at parity with the greenback for the last few months.

The simple fact is that Australian retailers have been overcharging for quite some time, and with the dollar parity it's become very obvious. Even with the GST included on overseas purchases, overseas goods are _still_ significantly cheaper.

I can order books from the UK, delivered, for less than a third of the Australian RRP. The retailers claim the costs are high because Australia is a small market, and they don't get the same bulk discounts as larger markets. Yet I can buy a single item, with single item shipping costs for a third of the price?

A larger example, cars. A Toyota corolla model is $15,600 (base) to $17,470 (S) MSRP in the US.

The same car in Australia is $20,990 (base) - $31,490 (ultima). Australia has 5% duty + GST, but I assume all relevant duties are included in the US price (but not state related taxes). So you may have an argument on the base model, but what's all the mark up on the top end.

Another example, the Pontiac GTO / G8 was available in the US significantly cheaper than you could buy the Holden Monaro / Commodore SS equivalent, despite it being designed and built in Australia and shipped to the US. (Thus defeating the car manufacturers argument that the extra cost is due to Australian compliance costs)

Australian retailers are simply used to running on much higher profit margins, and their current business plans don't work in a global market.

I'll also note that this campaign is being run by a small number of large retailers. The small retailers association has been distancing themselves from it, and actively rubbish many of the claims.

Essentially this is just setting themselves up for an excuse to use in the next quarterly reports for why their sales are down due to the high Australian dollar.

Re:Seems unfair to me (1)

timbo234 (833667) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788786)

On the face of it you'd be right, but the issue isn't that simple. A previous government set the GST thresholds to increasingly higher levels in the first few years after the GST introduction because they realised it was costing more to enforce the tax on these small imports than they were taking in.

The retailers are effectively asking for the government to put up artificial roadblocks for online shoppers. Since overseas retailers aren't going to collect taxes for the Aussie government the only way to work it would mean that everyone has to line up in a massive queue outside the post office on saturday morning to go in and pay some stupid little fee to retrieve their online shopping packages. Harvey and co. are hoping this artificial inconvenience will reduce the competition from online shopping - instead of them actually having to compete.

Re:Seems unfair to me (-1)

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Moving the mountain for the trees (4, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788252)

Like the digital media producers of the world, these Australian retailers would rather shift the earth than themselves.

Re:Moving the mountain for the trees (1)

Jeeeb (1141117) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788334)

Like the digital media producers of the world, these Australian retailers would rather shift the earth than themselves.

Really what would you have them do? Pack up and move overseas so they can avoid the GST?

For the record GST on overseas purchases alone won't save them, but why should businesses have to compete with a business that faces a different set of tax rules to them?

Re:Moving the mountain for the trees (3, Interesting)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788408)

The GST has NOTHING to do with these people not getting sales, the fact that goods vary from 20 to 70% cheaper, yes 70% cheaper overseas tells me / us / Australians that the GST has little to no impact on the price compared to outright greed.
Books especially, online OR retail, overseas is vastly different.

Re:Moving the mountain for the trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788552)

Sigh. It is not 'outright greed'. It is that doing business in Australia is so incredibly expensive. We have one of the highest average wages in the OECD. On top of that we have payroll tax and compulsory superannaution costs which must also be born by the employer. We have just gone retro with our industrial relations laws (back to the 80s) and union-led wage inflation is already appearing in some areas of our economy. We have one of the highest commercial average rental rates in the world. We have moderately high electricity tarrifs and rapidly climbing water tarrifs. The cost of our internet is also double that of in the States.

All of this feeds through to large operating costs for having an actual retail outlet vs importing direct from overseas. So no, it is not outright greed.

Re:Moving the mountain for the trees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788652)

Of course it's greed. I can buy through independent Australian online retailers which are a lot cheaper than these bozos, that also maintain a bricks and mortar presence. For example, I recently purchased a heap of travel luggage from bagworld.com.au whose prices (with GST) are way cheaper than what I would see in any Myer or David Jones, who also maintain a b+m store front in Perth. I'm in Victoria, with free delivery included, it's still cheaper than going over the road to Chadstone Shopping Centre and getting it from Myers or DJs, with the only trade off being a few days wait for my delivery to arrive. This is big retailers having a dummy spit because smaller business are starting to out maneuverer them with internet store fronts.

Re:Moving the mountain for the trees (2)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788670)

Sigh. It is not 'outright greed'. It is that doing business in Australia is so incredibly expensive. We have one of the highest average wages in the OECD. On top of that we have payroll tax and compulsory superannaution costs which must also be born by the employer. We have just gone retro with our industrial relations laws (back to the 80s) and union-led wage inflation is already appearing in some areas of our economy. We have one of the highest commercial average rental rates in the world. We have moderately high electricity tarrifs and rapidly climbing water tarrifs. The cost of our internet is also double that of in the States.

All of this feeds through to large operating costs for having an actual retail outlet vs importing direct from overseas. So no, it is not outright greed.

I partially agree with your premise: I run a company in Australia and doing business here is expensive but I don't think it justifies a 200%+ markup on items. In any case the biggest problem here is not the price it's the complete indifference of Australian retailers - they simply aren't interested in helping you, it's all simply a case of import the cheapest, nastiest crap from china and throw it at the customer as you shove them out the door.

What is the difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788256)

I don't understand what's the difference between selling in brick&mortar stores and selling online. Here in Europe VAT is included in all sales and that's fair I think.

Re:What is the difference? (1)

shooteur (1559845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788308)

They're complaining about sales from online retailers outside of the country. Anything bought from an online Australian website charges GST (unless you're ordering from outside of the country IIRC). Anyhow it's the big retailers pushing for this, that once undercut the local independent 'mum & dad' business, as they can bulk order from wholesalers, and return goods if they're not sold. They also decimated the manufacturing industry here, by sourcing cheaper goods abroad. To claim the consumer is un-australian for getting the better deal, after their shit for the last 20 or so years, is ludicrous.

Just Aussie? (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788260)

And if that isn't bad enough, the New Zealand Retail Association thinks it's a great idea - they want the 15% GST to be applied to EVERY purchase, no matter the origin.

The way I see it, they should just stop whining that they don't have it easy any more. You just can't have a 50% margin any more, get over it. Stores should start competing based on their actual merits, such as the ability to get a product to you in less than 2 weeks. And an actual warranty.

Re:Just Aussie? (1)

Peeteriz (821290) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788356)

Isn't that the point of a sales tax, to apply to every purchase?

Re:Just Aussie? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788384)

Every purchase within your jurisdiction. What they want is actually an import duty. It comes down to a choice between laws applying at the buyer's location or the seller's.

Re:Just Aussie? (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788600)

What they want is actually an import duty.

Which they already have, although it's typically only applied to items over $400 in NZ.

I agree with GP though - the days of huge markups through the whole supply chain are over. That's a good thing for the end customer.

I vote (1)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788268)

I vote and I say no.
The big retailers came and close down the mom and pop shops.
Now the big retailers are hurting, and they want to return to profitability by taxing the competition.
Not sure how it can be done economicaly

G

Not the consumers problem? (1)

dcl (680528) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788282)

It's the businesses problem if they no longer seem competitive.

That said I'm not sure how much of an impact it will have on Australian jobs, but brick and mortar shops and online retailers should probably be treated evenly.

Re:Not the consumers problem? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788420)

I'd agree with that if both of them had the same taxes but they don't. One has a sales tax from 0$ on up; the other has zero sales tax up to 1k$. What they ought to do is do away with all sales tax and replace it with something else that isn't so hostile to the poor.

Re:Not the consumers problem? (1)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788738)

The retailers in Australia collect GST from us (the consumer) and pay it to the Government.
The Australian Government has no control over retailers overseas and can not compel them to pay any tax at all.

All Australian retailers (online and physical) have exactly the same taxes to collect and pay to the Government.

Overseas retailers don't, if the Government wanted to collect GST for amounts less than $100 in one transaction, they would need to have EVERY SINGLE parcel from overseas held in customs for the end recipient to collect after paying the required amount of GST (and any other duties applicable)

The Government aren't holding off on collecting this GST because they're being nice to us. They're not collecting it as it would cost more than the GST collected to have the necessary infrastructure to actually collect it. They'd be losing money in red tape just to collect tiny amounts of GST.

The real problem is importers and wholesalers charging excessive prices for goods that are identical to those available overseas.
As an example, the RRP of a particular Canon DSLR camera here in Australia is $3600. I can get exactly the same camera on eBay from Hong Kong for less than $2300 including shipping.

How can it cost more to ship a single item into Australia than it costs (per unit item) to bring in a whole container full? It doesn't. What else makes up the price difference then? Exchange rate? Not these days... GST? Nope, that's only 10%...

It's nothing to do with a GST, it's price gouging. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788286)

Here's the real problem. The Australian dollar has traditionally been around 60-70c US. With a little mark-up and taxes, that makes a $100 item usually around $190+. Still more than just the exchange rate would belie, but not a massive amount

Now that the Australian dollar is worth more than the US dollar, retailers, importers and the like are STILL charging like the old days. a book that's $120US is $290 in Australia.

Far FAR more than a simple GST would indicate. Even with GST added to the book as an import, the price would end up around $132, less than half the Australian price.

GST is a furphy and anyone capable of doing the numbers would see that. Few do

Re:It's nothing to do with a GST, it's price gougi (2)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788392)

GST is a furphy and anyone capable of doing the numbers would see that. Few do

And even fewer seem to care. This whole campaign by a few rich merchants has been met with an almost universal "piss off."

Re:It's nothing to do with a GST, it's price gougi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788896)

The problem with GST is that it gets applied at every transaction. Most imported goods in Australia are purchased by an importer/distributor, then sold to a retailer, then sold to the customer. This means that most items have been hit with 10% GST twice. Then you get funky situations where a distributor is buying a product from a seperate importer, and then selling to retailers before finally making it to the end-user. So now you've got 10% being applied 3 times to the same item (along with each companies' markup). That 10% for each transaction adds up very quickly, and is why it is far cheaper for the end-user to just purchase the item from overseas themselves.

Governments love GST because they can sell the idea of 10% to the populace, because hey, 10% isn't that bad right? Well, except when it actually ends up being 21%, or 33% (not factoring in each companies' mark-up).

Re:It's nothing to do with a GST, it's price gougi (2)

_merlin (160982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788924)

You obviously don't understand GST credits. If I buy something at $40 wholesale and pay $4 in GST, when I sell it to you for $50 + $5 GST, I give the government $1 and claim a GST credit for the other $4 - it's not like the old wholesale taxes.

Retailers don't just want you to pay GST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788288)

Adding another 10% on top of your online purchases isn't going to help the retailers. What they want is for your goods to be held by customs until you go and pay the GST which will increase the time cost and be a major pain in the arse when customs take 3-4 months to process your stuff.

And we might believe the retailers if ... (1)

slackarse (875650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788304)

... the price difference was not typically more than 150% markup [harveynorman.com.au] (without shipping) on the same product [ozgameshop.com] (with free shipping) as opposed to the 10% GST. You know, if the price difference were only 10-15% and shipping wasn't typically so overpriced ($15 - $20 for packages as small as RAM) even in the same city, I wouldn't mind buying in my own country.

Re:And we might believe the retailers if ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788400)

Couldn't have said it better myself. The insane markups on products here in Australia is the reason we're buying overseas. Greedy companies is the issue, if you ask me.

Re:And we might believe the retailers if ... (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788404)

... the price difference was not typically more than 150% markup [harveynorman.com.au] (without shipping) on the same product [ozgameshop.com] (with free shipping) as opposed to the 10% GST.

To be 100% fair. Video Game prices in OZ are set by the distributors, not Harvey Norman, JB Hifi or EB games (but JB Hifi is consistently $10-20 cheaper then HN or EB). OzGameShop does grey imports (legal) on a case by case basis (I.E. per order, which is also legal). Basically they order the games from Asia/UK/US when a customer orders it from them (again, quiet legal as it's under the A$1000 threshold).

The distributors (and publishers) contempt for the Aussie public in their pricing is why I buy from Play-Asia.com as much as possible. Seeing as the developers have already been paid (no matter how much I pay) I know I'm not ripping off the people who did the work.

Re:And we might believe the retailers if ... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788586)

Armani suit US [emporioarmani.com] - $US777
Rhodes & Bechett [myer.com.au] - Australian brand in an Australia retail store (who knows Rhodes & Bechett [rhodesbeckett.com.au] outside Australia?) - $AU 899
1 Australian dollar = 0.9929 U.S. dollars
Make the math, please.

Cheaper online even with the tax (4, Insightful)

Craigj0 (10745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788316)

The reason why people are shopping online is not because they don't have to pay the tax. Even if they did they can still get it cheaper accounting for postage/shipping by shopping online. The tax we are talking about is 10% yet many products you can get for 50% of the Australian price. It seems most retailers in Australia think the exchange rate for AUD/USD is 0.6 (currently at parity).

This isn't just bricks and mortar either:
Microsoft Visual Studio Ultimate with MSDN: AU$20,775.00 or US$11,899

Re:Cheaper online even with the tax (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788544)

It costs a lot less to pay for a web server (which you have anyway), a distribution warehouse (which you have anyway) and the processing to send to individual's homes (which many retailers have anyway) than it does to pay for all that + the retail employees, the rent for the stores, the power/HVAC/maintenance for the stores, etc. Thus, mail-order/online will be cheaper than retail, as it has fewer costs. Retail is good if you need an item NOW or need help that the salesperson can actually give, but most retail salespeople can't give any meaningful advice anyway.

Re:Cheaper online even with the tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788704)

Retail is good if you need an item NOW or need help that the salesperson can actually give, but most retail salespeople can't give any meaningful advice anyway.

So i work in an (Australian) online store, every single customer we have, even the shitheads, get about 1000 times the level of customer service you would at a harvey norman or myer etc.

You ring us up or send an email, we'll help you with your query. A post near the top of the page mentions a $180 HDMI cable, we'll sell you the $9 one, it does the same job (I don't get a kick back and still make more than the pimply tween in shop who hasn't a clue about any thing except "if it costs more it's better")

You want service and to save 50%, do it online, even from an Australian store, let alone overseas (you also have a local warranty)

.

I heard as joke once and have actually tried this:
Go into a Dick Smith for some batteries, no service.
Walk over to the big TVs, pull a measuring tape out of your pocket, measure the width of the biggest screen.
Before you've finished, someone will want to help you, tell them "I need 2 x AA batteries for my remote."

(then go home and buy them online)

Re:Cheaper online even with the tax (1)

harlequinn (909271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788820)

And to think Dick Smith used to actually sell electronics parts (e.g. capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, etc.).

Just last night I went into my new local Dick Smith mega store.

Just one shelf with any components on sale - that won't ever be restocked when they sell out. Now it's all wide screen TVs, laptops, printers, mobile phones, etc.

Jaycar Electronics must be loving it...

Re:Cheaper online even with the tax (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788848)

Jaycar Electronics must be loving it...

Sadly, Jaycar is starting to carry more and more toys and gadgets too. Thankfully DigiKey and others have their online stores and quick cheap international delivery.

Re:Cheaper online even with the tax (1)

harlequinn (909271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788680)

I'm Australian and suffer this problem as well. Australians can pay between 2x and 10x as much for the same product. Just the other day I saw a large wall map available from National Geographic for approximately $90 US. An Australian internet store was selling the exact same map for approximately $900 US. WFT?! As Craigj0 wrote, even with shipping and a hypothetical 10%GST added on it would still be cheaper most of the time.

Lack of competition in the retail sector and a small population hinder us greatly.

Even the new OS X App Store opened today has different prices for Australians Aperture 3 in US = $80, in Australia = $100. Remember our dollar is within 1% of the value of the US dollar and it is digital delivery. Yet we get shafted anyway.

Screw these dumb retailers - they need to adapt to the competition by changing their prices and business practices.

Re:Cheaper online even with the tax (2)

harlequinn (909271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788716)

More examples:

Just went on Steam Australia store - Call of Duty: Black Ops = $90, look at US store online and it is $60.

Looked on Apple store online - base level Mac Pro in Australia = $3200, in the US Apple store it is $2500.

GST is only 10% (4, Informative)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788320)

The problem Gerry Harvey and co have is not that their goods are 10% more expensive then the equivalent goods online, the problem Harvey and co have is that their goods are 50% more expensive then the equivalent online.

Gerry Harvey's store, Harvey Norman (AKA Hardly Normal [prices]) is one of the stores I refuse to shop at due to it's high prices, incredibly annoying ads and now this. What Harvey really wants is for the government to step in and protect his profits (most of which come from predatory "interest free" deals which have something along the lines of 30% interest applied) by artificially making it more expensive to buy online.

Fortunately our assistant treasurer Bill Shorten has already shot the idea down saying it would be too expensive to implement.

Re:GST is only 10% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788496)

i was quoted yesterday $400 for a g19 keyboard, that i can buy online for 115. almost 400% markup is just insane

Re:GST is only 10% (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788578)

Too expensive in votes as well as implementation costs.

The GST is a smokescreen.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788348)

The GST is not the issue.....adding 10% to the price of items bought from overseas still means the items are wayyy cheaper than ones bought from the large local retailers.

What the major stores want to do is to add so much "overhead" and hassle in buying overseas that people don't do it.

I mean...who collects the GST?..who remits the GST to the Aust Government ?..the overseas retailer??..hardly....Australian Customs??..pffft.....the purchaser????

The major retailers are trying to impose barriers to people jumping on the Net and buying the same item a lot cheaper with a few clicks and one way they can do this is to try and lobby the government to impose a lot of onerous "hoops" for people to jump through in the hope it'll all be too hard.

Thin end of the wedge people......

Multiple issues getting bunched together. (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788364)

The GST issue is actually a non-issue but it's a highly visible one that can be driven hard. As it is, the 10% isn't the cause of the make/break when it comes to retailing. The bigger issue at hand here however is the constant desire we all have to increase our income more and decrease our expenditure (for the same quantity of goods). However, it's a circular system (I won't say closed, since we have inflation) and if you demand more wages then those wages have to come from... PROFIT. What people need to get into their heads is that you can't magically get more money to spend and expect everything (domestically) to be cheaper at the same time, not without you either climbing the ladder to a higher income job or something else to genuinely leap up to more income.

The problem with direct sales to China etc is that the cash has now left the country and isn't greasing the economic engine. I'm not saying that everyone should be forced to buy "Australian", however I think that people are failing to realise that they're ultimately selling themselves down a river without a paddle if they continue to send all their income overseas.

Another aspect is, I'm a domestic manufacturer (amongst other things) and it's brutally painful to see people being able to purchase complete electronics devices for less money than what I can even buy the raw parts for (also direct from China). So when people see my product at $40, they think I'm 'gouging' them $20 when they can get the same sort of thing direct for $20, where's the reality is I can't even buy the parts for less! When that happens I just drop the product line and if people ask why I don't have it, I give them the explanation. So even if you take personal profit out of the equation it's still impossible to compete against direct-buy for a lot of things. Yes, one has to get smarter about it and find new niche markets but don't go to town bitching at domestic companies about profit-gouging when we already have to be twice as nimble on our feet just to keep the doors open.

Paul.

Re:Multiple issues getting bunched together. (1)

ausgnome (650653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788450)

Your situation ie: manufacturer is a different ball game to Hardly Normal/Myers, who buy from overseas in the first place and don't produce anything, nor do . they stock many Australian brands and where quite happy to let the manufacturing jobs go overseas. And yes they do price gouge way beyond local taxes and wages.

Re:Multiple issues getting bunched together. (1)

lgftsa (617184) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788482)

I can buy unbranded ipod compatible 4 conductor headphones (with mic/switch) for AU$1.50 delivered from Hong Kong.

I can buy functionally identical apple branded headphones from jbhifi for $39 in store.

They're both made in China, and if China can leverage that $1.50(less postage) into jb going bankrupt, then they deserve to do so.

On the other hand, the fridge I bought this afternoon is (mostly) Australian made.

Eh? I thought... (1)

SwampChicken (1383905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788368)

..."Hardly Normal" were pulling out of that 'lil posse due to the sheer amount of flak they were copping for it?

Learn from the US, UK, and Germany... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788372)

The US and UK have very low thresholds for their import tax exemption, $200 and $30 respectively, just to make sure that their populations don't beggar their local economy by shopping in countries where cost-of-living and overheads are far below their own.

The Germans have a blanket 50% tariff to discourage that. All these economies are far hardier than Australia's, and 10-20x Australia's in size - have they got it wrong? Are they finding it too hard to collect the small amounts of tax involved - no way!

I am an Australian. (5, Interesting)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788374)

This story is a disgrace and the vast vast majority of consumers are utterly disgusted by the actions of these large chains.
We are currently under an oligopoly in Australia for retail options in general and it's mostly getting worse.

I went for the first time overseas recently to Hong Kong, Paris and London and within 2 or 3 days of the holiday, myself and my travel partner were utterly shocked, upset and dismayed at just how /ludicrously/ cheap everything was, clothing, shoes, internet, food - everything was vastly cheaper.
Things have always been traditionally 'gouged' here in regards to pricing, the problem is it's not just the retailers being scumbags, from what I gather the manufacturers, wholesalers and suppliers to the country are bastards too.
Apple for example sell products internationally with no middle man, the Apple stores purchased their goods from Apple asia where they are likely manufactured. The pricing is often not just 5 or 10% more but 20 to 50% more depending on items.

I purchased a pair of identical shoes to a pair I got in Melbourne for $280 in a genuine retail Nike store in Hong Kong for $70, I've looked at them thoroughly, several times over, they really are the genuine item yet the price difference is astounding.
Our dollar has recently gained strength internationally yet goods still don't appear to be getting cheaper in the slightest.

As for the retailers, Aussie retailers are living in the DARK.AGES - they have little to no concept of what an online store is or how to run one and have been laughing up the profits for years, finally the cost of shipping things internationally has continued to drop and the AU$ risen to the point we're going overseas for more and more goods.
I say a plague on all their houses, these people are greedy vermin, threatening Aussie jobs for the sake of (gross amounts) of profit.

Hypocrisy on GST for Food (1)

BrightSpark (1578977) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788504)

Food prices are also now controlled by just a few companies in Aussie and this is something you can't go without. It's bad enough that Nike shoes are over the top, but when it's meat and bread it really hurts. The GST is essentially a tax on locally produced goods to which value has been added or service performed. Raw food is exempted from GST, bust processed food isn't so it now seems that Coles and others have found their own GST loophole by importing partly processed food but claiming the exemption. They spend millions finding out how to get around the GST so it seems absolutely hypocritical to bluster on about us buying mountains of sub-$1k items from overseas. I agree with AbRASiON on this - it's not the 10% they're worried about, it's the other 40% on top! See ATO guide on which foods attract GST here - http://www.ato.gov.au/print.asp?doc=/content/18694.htm [ato.gov.au] Just don't know how highly processed brekfast cereals gain an exemption (ask Mr - tax free - Kelloggs/Sanitarium) and of course the sugar lobby got white refined sugar GST-free somehow - can't live without that one :-) The whole GST application is a debacle. But AbASiON's ponit on gouging is valid - just try to buy books online and see what local suppliers think, never mind DVDs and MP3s.

Re:I am an Australian. (2)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788512)

Your example is awful. Shoes, and clothes, aren't based on what they cost to manufacture, they are priced based on what people will pay. The reason Nike charges more in Melbourne is because people will pay for it. Just like they used to charge $400 for Air Jordans in America. It wasn't costing $400 to manufacture them.

Beyond that, there are other issues. The median Hong Kong resident makes 30% less than the median Australian resident. Of course any item that has wages as a major portion of the product cost (in America, for example, the cost to ship something goes mainly to paying employee wages, and not so much to fuel. In Hong Kong, the fuel will be a larger factor) will be cheaper in Hong Kong.

If you want to give a good example, maybe we can figure out why there was a trade differential. But for now, it looks like you're on the same level of idiocy as a tourist who thinks things are cheap in foreign countries because you get more of their money for each dollar.

Re:I am an Australian. (1)

Mr_Plattz (1589701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788644)

In effort of open information, this is roughly how much we pay for goods and services in Australia. Like the above poster, I travel to the USA a lot and quite frankly, I'm like a kid in a candy store for most of the everyone. Everything in the USA is substantially cheaper.

  • Unleaded Petrol with 10% ethanol: $1.30c a Litre (that's $5/gallon for you Americans!)
  • Bread: $3 AUD
  • Milk 2L: $2 AUD
  • McDonald's Large Big Mac Meal: $9 AUD
  • Typical Main Meal at a nice (not fine dining) restaurant: $30 AUD
  • Panasonic 50" 1080p HDTV: $2000 AUD
  • "Australian" Family Car (Holden Commodore): $35,000
  • BMW 320ci (this is considered a luxury car in Australia): $65,000

I hope this helps the rest of the world 'understand' how violated we are by monopolized retailers. Aussie dollar gets stronger overseas, people realize it's better to shop overseas and then our fat cat CEO's cry foul play.

Re:I am an Australian. (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788976)

Serious question:

Where are you getting milk and bread so cheap? It's at least 25% more for me in Richmond, Victoria.

The right answer (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788456)

The right answer is to get rid of sales tax altogether. It's a ridiculously backwards, regressive tax that penalizes the poor more than the rich. You can try to make it fair by omitting food and basic necessities, but that doesn't work well because it hits the middle class the most, and is open to administrative abuses (the favored companies of the ones administrating the tax can have things omitted in their favor).

Get rid of sales tax. Then you won't have these market distortions.

Imports != Online Purchases (2)

nully (1802028) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788500)

This isn't all online purchases, just imports from overseas. The way it works is any import under $1000 AUD doesn't have to pay duties/tax.

Current rules will stay (4, Informative)

tumutbound (549414) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788556)

The Board of Taxations released a study 12 months ago that stated recovery of GST on single imports below $1000 was not economically viable. http://www.taxboard.gov.au/content/reviews_and_consultations/gst_to_cross_border_transactions/report/gst_cross_border_transactions_report.pdf [taxboard.gov.au] .
My experience with importing stuff is that Customs clearance is very quick - same day for most postal articles, a bit longer if you're forced to use Fedex, DHL, etc.
Based on the backlash against retailers, I can't see the government taking a chance at pissing off voters.

It's not just the large chain stores (4, Interesting)

Enter the Shoggoth (1362079) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788582)

I rarely buy anything locally anymore (except for food) even if it costs me more to buy from overseas. Why? Australian resellers (both traditional and online), distributors and importers are lazy abusive con artists.

Every time I try to order anything locally it's either marked up by an obscene amount (anywhere from 200% to 2000% over the retail price in the US/UK/EU/etc.) or more likely simply unavailable because the local shops and distributors couldn't be fucked carrying anything except the cheapest shitty thing they can import from China.

Email an online store here and ask about a product - 90% of the time you get no reply. Go into a bricks and mortar shop and ask for something and 90% of the time they'll answer by offering you a completely different product. When you tell them that you're after a specific make and model and aren't interested in alternatives more often than not the sales guy will abuse you.

Just today I had another experience of the local bullshit: I wanted to buy some new HDD's (I'd rather buy spinning chunks of rust locally for warranty purposes), I'd settled on the new Hitachi 7K3000 in the 2TB size (note that the 3TB size _is_ available here) so I emailed the three distributors mentioned on the Hitachi site. One bounced (this also happens a lot) one ignored me and the other one said that I'd have to wait at least two more months before they'd be bothered to import them. Best guess as to why: there are probably thousands of the older 7K2000 2TB model sitting in a warehouse in Japan and the local dickheads probably offered to take them at a reduced price from Hitachi all the while still charging the same price to the customer.

This debate has been making headlines here for a few weeks now and the thing I find most ironic is that no one has bothered to suggest that just maybe the GST should be simply abolished - everyone seems to accept the idea that the government sticking its hand in your pocket every time you make a purchase as some kind of natural law. This baffles me: the left should naturally be against it because it disproportionately taxes the poor and the right should be against it because it's a tax that is administered non-voluntarily buy businesses without recompense.

globalization OK for big biz but not for you and I (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788590)

These guys loved it when they could stock their stores with goods from overseas at a fraction of the cost of locally produced equivalents... they passed a portion of the savings onto the consumer, pocketed the rest and did lots of locals out of a job.

Now that the everyman can also take advantage of the global supply chain and eliminate the middle man they cry foul... boo-hoo.

Re:globalization OK for big biz but not for you an (1)

Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788912)

Hear hear to this... And not just pricing - this goes to the heart of retail in every country. Regional encoding of dvds, printer cartridges, mobile phone locking, tariffs...the list goes on. they're all about passing on the benefits of globalisation to the manufacturers and distributors - while deliberately making it difficult or impossible for the consumer to reap similar benefits.

I'm an Australian consumer (3, Insightful)

Mr_Plattz (1589701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788592)

I'm an Australian consumer and I will happily pay an extra 10% on purchases for GST on behalf of the overseas retailer.

Goods online are, in nearly all instances over 50% cheaper overseas. If I can give 10% of this money to Australia to help support our country I am happy to do so.

Dear Retailers who are involved in this,

Please rest assured I and every other consumer who is outraged at your comments will never shop in your overpriced, monopolized brick and mortar stores ever again. Our AUD has almost doubled in value (54c to 101c vs USD) yet our prices are still increasing.

When you stop buying from China, so will we.

New Level of Lobbying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788728)

Just as governments have figured out they can push through any civil rights abuses by screaming 'think of the children', big corporates have figured out they can push anything through by screaming 'but we'll lose jobs'.

A few months ago there was an astonishing movement by the big mining companies who, screaming 'but we'll lose jobs', managed to get the Prime Minister evicted. Once big corporates saw that, it was never going to be long before they tried the same.

Would they collect taxes for US customers? (1)

Mistakill (965922) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788746)

I just wonder, if the Australian retailers who are up in arms, would be happy to collect taxes for sales to US Citizens... whether theyre via the web, or actual foot traffic face to face customers... 'oh, youre American, thats an extra 9%... oh wait, youre from what state? thats 18% state tax too'... not a chance imo

Btw, Harvey Norman are trying to spearhead the same campaign in New Zealand

Should be the other way round (1)

ghrom (883027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788760)

Why wont they lobby the other way round, to reduce the tax burden for themselves so they can compete on a fair ground with the online retailers?

A few points.. (1)

Vladdo (1972190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34788844)

Long time reader, first time poster.. I'd just like to point out a few things.. The Gerry Harvey(s) in this instance are all for wanting us Australians to pay for GST etc, but in reality what they're really whinging about is having to pay rent, super, public liability, company tax etc all masked under the guise of 'fair tax for all'... I've never heard him whinge for one moment before the leadup to christmas 2010 about this, when more and more people were buying online and the dollar was at parity with the US. I didn't hear him cry when Australian farmers ditched their crops into landfill because of cheaper imports, nor have I ever heard of him crying when Australian manufacturering went offshore to maximise his profits. 5 years ago, ordering online was the domain of young tech savvy users who were willing to take a chance on internet shopping russian roulette... Now we see a larger section of people, mums & dads, buying online and saving a bundle. I think the real issue however, is Australian importers and distributors. I've been told from someone who runs a rather large online camera store that if i was to buy a particular canon lens, that his buy price from canon is more expensive than what i can buy the same lens from an online store in the US. How can retailers honestly compete when distributors are charging so much more. I used to work in a gaming and media role, working with distributors on reviewing products. From time to time, i'd get to see wholesale pricelists of cds/dvds/games. New release dvds were sold at a wholesale level for $15-$19, with a RRP of $35-$40.. Or AAA gaming titles.. they'd be sold for $65-$70 at a wholesaler level, with RRP $99.95 - $119.95 RRP. Even when the dollar was at 50 US cents, to now parity, the cost of these goods has not changed. Distributors are pocketing the difference. I suppose its easier to attack customers and brand them as scum for not paying tax, when the real issue is higher up the chain. One can only hope that the ball is rolling and it snowballs into an avalache..

What do you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34788908)

Australia started as a prison colony, do you expect the basic nature to change?

To the Aussie's...I kid of course ):)

Kiwi's FTW!!!

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