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Does the UK iPhone Plan Add Up?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the extra-tax-for-awesomeness dept.

Communications 280

An anonymous reader writes "Is it just me or is the UK iPhone deal seriously more expensive than the US deal? If you look at what AT&T offers compared to what O2 offers, you get significantly less for your money in the UK than you do in the States. It's also significantly more expensive than other non-iPhone deals in the UK, which offer similar services. Steve Jobs response to the more expensive UK iPhone is that 'it's more expensive to do business in the UK', but what does that mean? As a UK resident I'm disappointed that we didn't get the same plan as the AT&T plan, particularly the free mobile-to-mobile calls. Is there some element of the UK iPhone service that I'm missing here?"

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280 comments

Incoming calls are free in the UK (5, Insightful)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686885)

In the US, we pay for incoming calls.

In other words, our minutes are eaten in half if we make as many calls as we receive. That's probably one aspect right there.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (1)

smallfries (601545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687005)

Unless I missed something it doesn't state that the inclusive minutes aren't X-network. Given that almost all bundled minutes are X-network in the UK what is the submitter talking about?

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (1)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687009)

Plus 17.5% VAT on the iPhone itself and the mobile tariff. Most business customers would be able to claim that back.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (5, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687135)

In general, US and European providers have VERY different pricing structures, and so you will not likely ever see parity in plans available.

Among other things, as I understand it:
European wireless customers never pay for incoming calls. Calls are charged to the caller, whether the caller is a landline or mobile. U.S. wireless customers pay for all incoming and outgoing calls (well, the calls are deducted from their monthly airtime allowance...), subject to exceptions (mobile-to-mobile on the same carrier, off-peak times)
European wireless customers only pay for outgoing SMS, not incoming. U.S. customers pay for both, with the above voice exceptions often applying to SMS.
Few European wireless carriers offer flat-rate data plans, although their pay-per-kilobyte prices are typically far cheaper than U.S. pay-per-KB prices. U.S. carriers offer exorbitant pay-per-KB prices so that anything but a minimal amount of usage proves to be more expensive than the flat-rate monthly plans. This is the big problem with the iPhone in Europe - as a few other articles have indicated, it was basically designed around an unlimited-data plan and in fact AT&T won't sell you the unit unless you get unlimited data service.
In general, Europeans jumped straight from GPRS to UMTS, skipping EDGE deployment. Bad for iPhone, no UMTS capability.

To make a long story short - comparing pricing between a U.S. carrier and a European carrier is like comparing apples to oranges. It's much easier to compare pricing schemes between U.S. carriers, which all operate on similar principles. (One exception - I get the impression European plans are a much closer match to U.S. prepaid/pay-as-you-go plans, except they are far more reasonably priced. U.S. PAYG plans are massive ripoffs.)

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (0, Flamebait)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687425)

Not to mention, that in the UK....someone has to pay for all those CCTV's, and the people that monitor them.

:-)

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (4, Informative)

digitig (1056110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687431)

European wireless customers never pay for incoming calls. Calls are charged to the caller, whether the caller is a landline or mobile.
Unless they go to another country (geographically pretty much equivalent to crossing a state line in the USA), in which case incoming calls /are/ charged.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687485)

European wireless customers only pay for outgoing SMS, not incoming. U.S. customers pay for both, with the above voice exceptions often applying to SMS.

And often US carriers do not provide a way to block unwanted text messages, causing me to have spent about a dollar over the life of my phone (I've had it for four years) on ten-cent text messages that someone who didn't know I don't use them sent me.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (4, Funny)

nsayer (86181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687609)

comparing pricing between a U.S. carrier and a European carrier is like comparing apple [apple.com] s to orange [orange.co.uk] s.
Yeah, they're different, alright.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (1)

Snowgen (586732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687661)

U.S. PAYG plans are massive ripoffs.

Depends on how you use your phone. I use mine minimally, so I have a pre-paid "plan". I spend about $6.75 per month--true I only get 27 to 52 minutes for that, but I don't use that many (and *all* my unused cash balance carries indefinitely). The phone cost me about $100, and that was two years ago. Let's say I keep it for another year, so that works out to be about $2.75 month. So for phone and service, I spend just under $10/month. That's not even close to a "massive ripoff". If you can find me any service that's cheaper, I'm listening!

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687703)

I pay 30 bucks a month and talked 2500 minutes last month with over 400 texts. I am on a family plan and used most of my minutes "off-peak" but still....you're getting hosed.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687803)

And how much do you pay per month if you only use 30 minutes? Still $30? Sounds like the one getting hosed is you.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (2, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688229)

The deal with PAYG is that you can CHOOSE to not pay the $30 if you're poor that month and just not talk on the phone as much. It's not a better deal per call, but a more flexible for your wallet on limited funds. Best part is that you can't go huge amounts OVER and get slapped with even more money you can't pay down. Because then they tack on late charges and if you take more than 2 months to pay they disconnect you and charge the contract at $200. With PAYG if you run out of money, you just don't get any calls.. no hidden charges or contract violations to slap you with $100's in overage. The cell phone companies BANK on people going over and missing payments for $20-$30 extra dollars a month.. that's why terms are so crazy and billing so awkward and error prone.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (1)

Snowgen (586732) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687817)

I pay 30 bucks a month ...you're getting hosed.

I'm perplexed... I'm paying a third of what you're paying. How am I getting hosed?

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (1)

Jodiamonds (226053) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687951)

While cost is subjective, as a light phone user in the US, I pay about $40 each year on a Pay-as-you-go program. I find that pretty reasonable.

Re:Incoming calls are free in the UK (0)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688145)

Exactly. Prices in Europe for standard cell phone plans are much more expensive than comparable standard US plans. I'm not sure where the original complainer gets off thinking that, because the iPhone was designed in America, he should be able to obtain European cell service at American prices. Or are they just now waking up to the fact that, because we have old, outdated networks and often, poor coverage in the US, we pay less for service?

It depends on the provider, has nothing to do with (3, Insightful)

LanceUppercut (766964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686909)

I'm un the US and with my provider/plan I don't get free mobile-to-mobile calls. Moreover, I have to pay for incoming calls and messages. This all depends on the particular provider/plan. It's about O2, not about Apple.

Re:It depends on the provider, has nothing to do w (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687179)

You must be either on a lowend pay-as-you-go plan or on a VERY old plan and are avoiding contract renewal.

Unlimited M2M within your carrier has basically been standard in the U.S. for a few years. (Note to Europeans: ONLY applies to mobile-to-mobile on the same carrier, not to others in the U.S.)

Cruel Britannia (4, Informative)

samuel4242 (630369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686913)

Alas, the tax rates are dramatically higher there and they probably sock it to the cell phone folks. There are many things to love about Britain, but it's not known for selling stuff on the cheap. Practically everything costs more there except, perhaps, for warm beer. And if memory serves me right, there was a raft of regulations that kept prices of beer cheap. That's a simple way to buy off the masses.

Re:Cruel Britannia (1)

nicolastheadept (930317) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687087)

No, beer is certainly not cheap! Once upon a time it was.

Re:Cruel Britannia (1)

samuel4242 (630369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687529)

Sorry to hear that. My vague memory is that the pubs were once highly regulated and prevented from raising beer prices. But clearly that can only go on so long before the pubs go out of business. I wonder if there are any price constraints any longer?

Re:Cruel Britannia (2)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687577)

How old are you? 80?

I've never heard of price constraints in pubs. So when you hand over that £2.80 for a pint of (chilled, cool or warm) beer of about 4.5% ABV, that's the price the pub has set itself. It's mostly tax.

Re:Cruel Britannia (1)

orra (1039354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687669)

It's quite the opposite of what you're saying. Politicians do their best to encourage pubs (with taxes, if they deem necessary) to increase the price of alcohol. See, as a nation we have a binge drinking problem, or so we're told). And in true British Government fashion, they try to solve this by punishing everyone (i.e. including those who drink responsibly) by artificially increasing the price of alcohol. You know, instead of just punishing those people who are a problem to others when they binge drink. The British Government: preventing crime by punishing everyone(TM).

Re:Cruel Britannia (1)

changling bob (1075587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688387)

Being of university age, we really do have a binge drinking problem, at least in the 20-somethings. Well, mid teens to late twenties anyway.

Re:Cruel Britannia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687233)

yep... higher tax rates and don't forget the VAT either, and the gas taxes, etc. Then again, they do manage to provide health care, so that counts for something.

Re:Cruel Britannia (1)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687971)

I know I will get flamed for this, but listen:
If the taxes are too high in Brittain, all you've gots to do is find some burly chaps, load them up with beer, and dump the government's tea in the harbour. Right off the ships from India!
Hah, it gets them every time! From there on, to my understading, the government pretty well folds in on itself, and you're the winner.
Like I said: It. Works. Every. Time.
(ps. If big media companies are listening, I'm available to make your new ad jingles. I. Am. Available. ;)

You're lucky. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686919)

You're lucky to have the iPhone with inexpensive unlimited data. In canada, we have rogers wireless. You can get 500 MB of data for "only" $210.00/month + $7 system access fee!

Re:You're lucky. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687807)

It's canadian dollars, so it's still cheap.

Re:You're lucky. (2)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687825)

I'd like to see how Steve Jobs spins that, and now with our (Canadian) dollar at par with the US it will be even harder to justify.

02 (4, Insightful)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686937)

"As a UK resident I'm disappointed that we didn't get the same plan as the AT&T plan, particularly the free mobile-to-mobile calls." This has nothing to do with the iPhone and everything to do with your carrier. Virtually all U.S. carriers include unlimited mobile to mobile, iPhone or not.

Re:02 (0, Troll)

ambrosen (176977) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687269)

Sorry, what's this company called Zero-Two? It's O₂. Although I guess O2's acceptable given that Slashdot really really doesn't like the idea of anything more than 7 bits to a character.

Re:02 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20688365)

You are a pedantic git.

Oh! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686949)

We take it in the ass everytime we buy anything, after a while you just accept it!

Thats why we all have asstunnels!

The Free WiFi makes the WiFi portion useful (5, Informative)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686951)

The free WiFi via TheCloud makes the wifi portion of the iPhone actually useful, as there are thousands of TheCloud WiFi networks around the country. I don't think that there is anything similar for the US iPhone.

Also the unlimited data usage is probably underestimated. Sure, they say 1400 pages a day, but how big is a web page these days (excluding Flash)? 100KB? That's 140MB a day, which would cost a tonne over here with many other deals.

The talk and text limits are rather poor of course. I pay £10 a month for 500 minutes and 100 texts with Three, so when £35 only has 200 minutes and 200 texts and no phone subsidy you have to worry.

Try lowering VAT (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687013)

Then you can expect similar iTunes store or iPhone pricing as in US. Long-established british companies have probably learned on how not too pay the tax as many times on the same item as a foreigner new to the area would.

Re:Try lowering VAT (1)

ambrosen (176977) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687149)

VAT's not a cascade tax. Any company with a turnover greater than £40000 p/a will be reclaiming the VAT on their inputs as a matter of course.

It's simple accounting. Mind you, the UK's simple accounting is different to the US's. Everyone uses double entry here.

Re:Try lowering VAT (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687379)

So how does that work? Say I am a company selling cell phones and I need to buy some expensive office equipment to do business. I also have to pay higher salary to my employees because most of the things they buy will be subject to VAT. Can I really reclaim both of these expenses on account that my own product is subject to VAT?

Re:Try lowering VAT (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687531)

As a VAT registered company in the UK, you can reclaim VAT on all your business purchases, and you collect VAT on all your sales, and you give the difference to HM Customs and Excise every quarter when you complete a VAT Return. It's all rather simple really.

Re:Try lowering VAT (1)

abhi_beckert (785219) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687695)

Don't know about VAT, but in australia the answer is yes on the office equipment. I'm a freelance programmer, and I get 10% back on almost any business-related purchase (computer, office chair, phone bill, petrol when driving to a meeting, etc). In Ausralia, businesses send in a quarterly (or yearly, it's up to the business) report on how much GST they paid, and how much GST they collected from customers. If you paid more GST than you collect, then they tax department send you a cheque, otherwise you send them a cheque.

Re:Try lowering VAT (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687859)

Three words for you...
W T F?
So if I start my own business that doesnt sell anything, then I can just get a refund of all my GST spent every year?

Re:Try lowering VAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687741)

Not quite. Any company that is VAT registered can claim VAT back. Turnover could be 2 quid. However, companies with less than 57 grand turnover (might be higher these days) have the option to be VAT registered or not. Above that, it's compulsory.

Re:Try lowering VAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687623)

Actually, even before VAT it's quite a bit more expensive - at £269 is £228, which is $448, so $50 more before tax.

You're KIDDING. (5, Funny)

Jethro (14165) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687025)

Apple pushing a product that's more expensive than competitors and expecting people to flock over and buy it just because of they style and hype surrounding it? Why that would NEVER work!

Re:You're KIDDING. (0)

djones101 (1021277) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687247)

You, sir, have earned the "Sarcastic Comment of the Day" award!

Rule of thumb for traveling to the UK (3, Informative)

Enlarged to Show Tex (911413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687027)

I was given this rule prior to my first overseas trip, and I've found it to be generally accurate for the UK:

Take an item in the US, and it will probably cost the same in GBP in the UK as it does in USD in the US. With the current exchange rate, this means that most items cost a little over twice as much in the UK vis-a-vis the US.

UK APLE FANBOIS? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687111)

Are UK Apple fanbois as annoying as American Apple fanbois? If they are anything like that dickhead Mr Anderson from Beavis and Butthead look alike Shaun Earsom.. i guess they are.. BTW Shaun.. you aint shit but a fat fanboi jap wannabe.... you will never get laid.. and any girl that gives you even a casual glance does not want your love or affection.. no one likes you like that... i would even think that its hard for you to get a hooker... and if i ever see you... you guessed it... we're fighting..:) toodles you cock suckin racist ass pussy...fanboy republican piece of shit.. i bet your ultimate dream would be to get tag teamed by George Bush from the front and Steve Jobs in the back... while a jap girl with a strap on is waiting till one of your gods busts a nut on your fat ass...

Rip-off Britain (4, Informative)

payndz (589033) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687115)

Everything is more expensive in the UK than in the States, even though wages are lower on average. Why do companies charge more for the same product over here?

Because they can.

British consumers have become numbed to paying more for less over the years, so companies clap their hands with glee at the thought of increasing their profit margins by 50% or more over the US for exactly the same product. "Oh, but you use PAL." "Oh, but you use 240 volts AC with three-prong plugs." "Oh, but you have VAT." Always the same excuses, and they're pretty much bullshit - but nobody questions them any more. We've been ground down by decades of being ripped off.

Mod parent up!!!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687231)

I have no idea if the parent is correct or not but I'm British, God damn it, and I demand the right to go red in the face and get outraged about being ripped off.

Re:Rip-off Britain (2, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687335)

Last I read the UK average wage was around £25k ($50k) a year, and the US average wage was around $40k a year. I'd hazard that was due to poor states dragging the average down?

However once you take tax into account then what you say is true. I don't know what US income tax rates are, and I know US goods have (~8%) sales tax applied over the sticker price unlike here, but with the UK's 22% income tax (not including first £5k earnings) plus 12% National Insurance, and then 17.5% VAT on most goods that you buy ... it works out that of the average wage around 40 - 50% is going straight to the government. If it was earlier I'd probably do the maths more concisely.

Re:Rip-off Britain (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687535)

Its very difficult to do a like-for-like comparison between the two countries. Take for instance health care - in the UK you get a "free" health system (of course its not actually free, but free at point of entry) whereas in the US its completely different, operationally and who pays. The living standard is also different - the US its seen as a necessity to each have a car whereas the UK its more of one per family, but public transport is far more accessible. All these things have associated costs.

Re:Rip-off Britain (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687915)

and the US average wage was around $40k a year

$48,201 [wikipedia.org] , a fair bit closer to $50k than $40k

Re:Rip-off Britain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20688123)

That's household income. Personal income - linked from the page you link to, in the sub-heading - is given as $39,4xx. Quite possibly where the GP got his figure from ;)

Re:Rip-off Britain (4, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687941)

Actually, someone making an average salary in the UK will pay 16% income tax - the tax free allowance and the 10% band pulls it down quite a bit.

And because of the primary threshold on NI, they'll pay 8.8% national insurance (11% between the primary threshold and upper earnings limit).

So income tax + NI for an average earner is below 25%. Of the remaining 75%, a typical family easily spends a third on things like mortgages or rent and other things that are not subject to VAT. That leaves about 50% of their money that they pay 17.5% VAT on, or 8.75% of their income. Add it up, and the tax burden including VAT is more like ca. 34% total rounded up.

For comparison, a US average earner at $40k would pay about 19% federal income tax and social security tax (FICA) after deductions. Depending on which state they live in they'll pay anything from nothing (8 states) via 3% flat (Vermont) to around 7-8%, I believe (some states have higher max state income tax rates, but only at higher income levels). So that gives a tax range from 19% to around 26-27% plus sales taxes.

Of course these figures are not at all directly comparable to UK tax levels, since UK national insurance actually includes comprehensive health insurance and partial dental, to the point where only a tiny fraction of British taxpayers see any value in private health insurance.

But in any case, when you add up local taxes (in which case you need to take into account council tax in the UK too, though certain cities in the US have local taxes that can far outstrip the UK council tax), state taxes and federal taxes in the US, the UK and US have pretty similar tax levels even ignoring the fact that NI includes health insurance.

I did the math for myself a couple of years ago, and realized that moving to the US (which was an option due to work) would not have saved me any tax at all unless I moved to some backwater I wouldn't be prepared to live in - in fact I might have ended up paying slightly more, and I would have ended up paying a lot more if I wasn't in a field where full health insurance typically is provided as a benefit.

Re:Rip-off Britain (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688287)

Cheers for doing the maths. Yeah, not so bad actually if you're on £25k. I was probably thinking of the burden when you earn quite a bit more - but that will be reduced a little from next April as the income tax is coming down to 20% (even if the tiny 10% band is being eradicated).

US income tax is flat rate from $0 earned?

Re:Rip-off Britain (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687879)

"Oh, but you have VAT."
That's actually a pretty significant cost in the UK, despite what you might think about the big, bad, evil corporations.

UK "Treasure Island" for retailers (1)

bwian (514220) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688367)

Various retailers used to call the UK "Treasure Island", because they could pretty well charge what they like, and the Brit public would willingly pay.

http://www.rip-off.co.uk/island.htm [rip-off.co.uk]

And I guess Apple are playing the same tune.

"laws" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687123)

If I had to guess, I would bet it has something to do with the fact that the UK has these things called "laws" that protect consumer rights. In the long run, that costs corporations money that would otherwise be acquired through shafting the consumer.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (4, Interesting)

The Mutant (167716) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687171)

Consumer Protection Laws are far more rigorous [tradingstandards.gov.uk] in the UK than the US.

I'm American but have lived in London for ten years. Yes, (some) things are more expensive here. I was curious and looked into it. Excepted from the above link:

When you buy goods from a trader, such as a shop, market stall, garage, etc, you enter into a contract, which is controlled by many laws including, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended by the Sale & Supply of Goods Act 1994 and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002). The law gives you certain implied, or automatic, statutory rights, under this contract.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) says that goods should be :

  • Of satisfactory
  • Fit for the purpose
  • As described


Store policies don't matter; this is the law and retailers must incorporate this cost into selling prices.

Re:The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687213)

I get the same things here in the US and abroad when I shop with my American Express.

I sound like a shill, but it's the truth.

Re:The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687429)

Uhhm, there is a fundamental difference between a service offered by a provider of financial services (Amex, in this case) and the law.

The latter will impact all prices. The former is not available to everyone.

Uniform Commercial Code does all of that too. (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687495)

How is this any different from the Uniform Commercial Code Article 2, which covers contracts over the sale of goods?

2-314. Implied Warranty: Merchantability; Usage of Trade.

(1) Unless excluded or modified (Section 2-316), a warranty that the goods shall be merchantable is implied in a contract for their sale if the seller is a merchant with respect to goods of that kind. Under this section the serving for value of food or drink to be consumed either on the premises or elsewhere is a sale.

(2) Goods to be merchantable must be at least such as:

(a) pass without objection in the trade under the contract description;

(b) in the case of fungible goods, are of fair average quality within the description;

(c) are fit for the ordinary purposes for which goods of that description are used;

(d) run, within the variations permitted by the agreement, of even kind, quality and quantity within each unit and among all units involved;

(e) are adequately contained, packaged, and labeled as the agreement may require; and

(f) conform to the promise or affirmations of fact made on the container or label if any.

(3) Unless excluded or modified (Section 2-316) other implied warranties may arise from course of dealing or usage of trade.

2-315. Implied Warranty: Fitness for Particular Purpose.

Where the seller at the time of contracting has reason to know any particular purpose for which the goods are required and that the buyer is relying on the seller's skill or judgment to select or furnish suitable goods, there is unless excluded or modified under the next section an implied warranty that the goods shall be fit for such purpose.

UCC Article 2 unifies contract law for the sales of goods across all states with the exception, as always, of Louisiana. (In this case, Louisiana's hybrid French/English system already had statutes on the books governing contracts.)

Re:Uniform Commercial Code does all of that too. (2, Informative)

sjf (3790) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687743)

The difference is in the very first clause of the very first section: Unless excluded or modified

A consumer's statutory rights may not be excluded or modified in the UK. A retailer can only grant additional protection to the consumer, NEVER remove a statutory right


US retailers can put up a sign saying: "no returns on sale items." In the UK this is utterly unenforceable. US retailers, as a matter of course, print post-partum conditions of sale on the receipt that they hand you after you have paid for th goods. Again, such clauses are unenforceable, in the UK.

If a retailer offers a 12 month warranty on a product, all that does is simplify your life for 12 months. If you buy, say, a refrigerator and it breaks down 12 months and a day later, British Trading Standards Officers will likely argue that it is reasonable for a fridge to last several years. The 12 month warranty can never mean, under British law, "we wash our hands of the product after 12 months."

Re:Uniform Commercial Code does all of that too. (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688329)

Just to take your last paragraph, I wish more people knew about the various less obvious rights they have. A number of useful ones are

If you buy goods that turn out to be faulty, the seller is in breach of contract, you are entitled to the usual remedies, either they fix the problem quickly (replace, repair or refund..), or you fix the situation yourself and require that they foot the bill (go buy a new one, ship broke one back to them, ask them for the difference).

These apply to new goods AND used goods, (although with used goods caveat emptor applies) so if you buy a used car, it is described as being in good nick and you check for any reasonable deficiencies then if anything that is not reasonable happens (some deficiency or wear that you would not expect of a car of that age/accident damage repair that you were not told of.. etc) you can go back to the seller.

It applies on Ebay, at the local market everywhere, it is intended to stop companies from screwing their customers and in most cases if you know what you are talking about you will get what is right without much of a fight (in my experience its quite painless)

Many people don't realise that the law isn't there to screw them, its to give you some power in a system that is stacked against the buyer in favour of the seller. If your TV dies just out of warranty contact the Retailer and have them sort it, if not take them to small claims and get your money back, - no need for a solicitor and no or only minor costs involved.

May have rambled on a bit, forgot why I was posting to be honest, must be getting old. Oh IANAL and TINLA This is definitely not legal advice.

Re:The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687633)

Store policies don't matter; this is the law and retailers must incorporate this cost into selling prices.
Same thing in many US states. Each state has its own consumer protection laws. Local laws can and do trump written warranty limitations and "retailer policies". And so you'll often read that "laws vary from state by state; you may have additional rights". Of course, the retailer may not want you to know about these rights, but they are often there.

If you have any questions, contact your state's office of consumer protection (or equivalent).

Sadly, many retailers would rather have you sue them in court instead of following the law - it can be a cheaper way for them to do business.

Re:The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (1)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688253)

That may well be true, but unfortunately the vast majority of consumers are unaware of their rights and companies will do their best to make it hard for you to exercise them.

Things in UK cost more because people aren't so price-conscious as our American cousins. It's not as socially acceptable to talk about money as it is in the US. Same thing effects wages - it's a taboo to discuss what you earn for us Brits (and is often actively discouraged by employers).

Re:The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20688449)

Try and find a store in the U.S. that won't accept refunds for practically any reason. My old girlfriend used to return items to the store years after she bought them because they broke, and they would exchange the items. In the U.K., if you are unhappy with your purchase simply because you think the product sucks (but it serves its purpose), you're out of luck. Caveat emptor is not that well known in American stores.

The answer (4, Informative)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687199)

Is it just me or is the UK iPhone deal seriously more expensive than the US deal?

It's not called Rip Off Britain [rip-off.co.uk] for nothing you know.

Seriously though, yes our prices include VAT at 17.5% which people often forget to take into account but, even so, there are plenty of products which have such a colossal additional mark-up on them (Windows Vista is twice as expensive which tax and shipping costs cannot explain away) compared to our European and American counterparts that it is hard not to feel cheated.

The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] on it is worth reading and notes that these items cost significantly more in the UK:

  • CDs and DVDs
  • iTunes Store songs, tv programmes, iPod, and iPod games
  • Computer Software - the most notable example being Microsoft Windows Vista
  • Books
  • Electrical Goods
  • Houses
  • Petroleum and diesel fuel

Unfortunately as we put up with paying those prices, we allow companies to continually screw us.

Re:The answer (1)

vidarh (309115) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687417)

Fuel is a special case and has little to do with companies wanting to screw us - the fuel prices in the UK consists of about 70% taxes, and it's a conscious policy to tax fuel that high, as in most of the rest of Europe (though UK is towards the high end even in Europe).

Re:The answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687819)

Fuel is a special case and has little to do with companies wanting to screw us - the fuel prices in the UK consists of about 70% taxes, and it's a conscious policy to tax fuel that high, as in most of the rest of Europe (though UK is towards the high end even in Europe).
Fuel prices are smaller in the U.S., but U.S. federal and local income taxes subsidize the price. Without these subsidies, the price in the US would be similar to European fuel costs.

In a nutshell, lower fuel prices help out many industries (namely, automotive and other road transport industries).... but at the cost of an increase in property and personal income taxes. In the end, the fuel is the same price.

Re:The answer (1)

unapersson (38207) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687519)

I really wish people would stop parroting these Daily Mail catch phrases. They're so bad at them. Surely people can come up with something that isn't completely lame. The current one just asks for the "well move somewhere else then" response.

Software (2, Funny)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687603)

There is, of course, the translations part.. translating Windows can't be cheap; though it surely can't be -that- expensive either.

Note that Adobe and Autodesk also have vast price increases up to well over 2x as expensive; not including the 17.5% / 19% VAT that gets added on top. With the sucking U.S. dollar, that's only getting worse and worse. It'll be interesting to see if Adobe / Autodesk / etc. will adjust their non-U.S. pricing to adjust for this, as currently it is much cheaper to import from the U.S. -and- risk any import duty fees.

Re:Software (2, Insightful)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688283)

There is, of course, the translations part.. translating Windows can't be cheap; though it surely can't be -that- expensive either.
What translation? It's not like they offer Windows in Welsh or Gaelic.* Microsoft cares so little about Britain that they can't even be bothered to take five minutes to change "color" to "colour". No, I don't think they can claim translation costs are what's pushing the price up.

* Yes, I know a Welsh interface pack does finally exist now, and a Gaelic equivalent is apparently on the way -- but these are separate add-ons, paid for out of public funds.

Ahem... (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688153)

At the very top of the Wikipedia link:

        This article does not cite any references or sources.

Shock, horror - some things are more expensive in some locales and cheaper in others. If you don't like it, put down the Daily Mail, stop whinging, and move.

There are significant differences in prices and wages across the UK (and of course across the US and other countries as well). There are no inverse price restrictions ensuring that "iTunes Store songs" (there's a staple, obviously...) are priced as they are in the UK - they're priced in accordance with what the market will bear. If you think something is too expensive, don't buy it.

in the US a call to a cell is cheap ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687205)

In the US, a call to a cell is the same as a call to a fix, so cell to cell calling is "inexpensive", whatever the operator. In the UK I presume (like in France), it does cost a lot more to call a cell than a fix, so naturally no cheap plan will have that.

Free mobile to mobile is not Apple's offer (1)

jkmullins (643492) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687221)

I've been a Cingular/AT&T customer for a while, and they have had free mobile to mobile as long as I can remember. If you look at the iPhone plans, the voice plans are identical in content and pricing to non-iPhone plans. Apple really had nothing to do with the pricing of that. The data plan is the only thing special about it. I kept my exact voice plan as before when I upgraded to the iPhone, and just bought the new data plan.

If your complaint is with the monthly pricing plan, it probably has more to do with the provider than Apple, if my AT&T experience is any indication.

Take a lesson from the US Early-adopters (0, Redundant)

heckler95 (1140369) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687287)

Come on, don't you guys know how this works by now? You wait on line for hours to get your hands on one of the very first UK iPhones with an overly expensive 2 year agreement, then two months later new "improved" (cheaper) service plans are offered and you get a gift certificate as a consolation prize for being a sucker.

More expensive to do business in the UK (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687413)

Apparently, brits make many more dental claims.

But isn't it pretty much always ... (1)

cylcyl (144755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687427)

that UK pays ~.7-.8 pounds what US pays in dollars? I mean isn't an itunes track in UK 79pence (~$1.60)

O2, not Apple (2, Informative)

saterdaies (842986) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687449)

Looking at O2's website, we see this breakdown in plans: 200min plus 400 text: 25pounds 750min plus 100 text: 35pounds 1350min plus 100 text: 50pounds http://shop.o2.co.uk/tariffs/18_months/Talker [o2.co.uk] http://shop.o2.co.uk/tariffs [o2.co.uk] THESE ARE ONLINE-ONLY SPECIALS. One has to assume that the iPhone will cost 10pounds more per month than the normal plans (since they cost an extra $20 more per month over here). So, the iPhone charges 10pounds more at the 200min level (but you loose half the texts), 10 pounds more at the 750 minute level (loosing 150 minutes, but gaining 400 texts), and 5pounds more at the 1350 minute level (again loosing 150 minutes and gaining 400 texts). They MIGHT be a worse deal than the AT&T plans over here, but not by much. They're pretty much standard O2 rates plus 10 pounds. Since the AT&T plans are the standard AT&T plans plus $20, that's pretty equivalent. NOTE: In both cases, the premium you're paying for an iPhone plan is getting you unlimited data and so if you're already paying for that, you might not consider it an increase in fee at all.

Re:O2, not Apple (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687585)

the premium you're paying for an iPhone plan is getting you unlimited data

Only its not. Its getting you "unlimited" data, which you'll use up if you view 1400 webpages in a day, according to the announcements at launch. Who knows how many "webpages" constantly polling for mail in background is going to use, but judging by the $25,000 bills that some US users have ended up with after roaming, its probably quite a few.

English Prices (1)

DECS (891519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687475)

It's hard to imagine how a country that pays more for everything is surprised that the iPhone's service plan isn't the same price as the US version. Of course, that gives the ignorant shills an opportunity to spew such silliness as "Apple takes 40% of O2's revenues!!!" and other made up factoids.

BBC Prints Irresponsible Rubbish on Apple [roughlydrafted.com]
The BBC has joined the London tabloid press in printing a series of articles skewering Apple over invented suppositions based entirely upon misinformed speculation and some outright lies. The worst part is that the BBC is being grossly hypocritical in its misinformation campaign against Apple, because the company is up to its eyeballs in the Microsoft-encrusted scandal surrounding its proprietary, Windows-only iPlayer imbroglio.

UK Tabloids Pick Up Zoon Awards [roughlydrafted.com]
It's not just the American media that is desperate to publish misleading or downright false information in attempts to prevent the erosion of existing barriers to innovation. The release of the iPhone in the UK touched off a flurry of snide reporting worthy of being Zooned.

not comparable (4, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687511)

I doubt that an arbitrary wireless plan in the US can be compared to an arbitrary wireless plan in Europe. For instance, the ATT plan allows free roaming around an approximately 3 million square mile area, as well as roll over minutes, and lots of free times. Saying that a UK plan does not offer such luxuries or that the US plan is cheaper makes no sense as the market features are not the same.

There is nothing special about a Mac or iPhone or iPod. The Mac provides me a great deal of value, so I buy it. The iPhone does not provide the value that the additional costs would warrant, so I won't buy one. I think people miss this simple point when they complain about the price drop of the iPhone. Current users effectively spent $2000 for the phone. This amount of money meant that the phone must have had some significant value to them, especially those that bought the first week. The $200 discount then represents a mere 10% discount, and 10% is an exceptional price to become an early adopter. I was not an early adopter my normal tolarance for contracted costs is about a third of what Apple and ATT wanted.

I hope we don't have to endure another year of moaning about the cost of the phone, or the cost of the plan, or the cost of early adoption. Those who have it find some value in it, and that is really all there is to it. Apple sells expensive machines, and those that need or want them buy them. Those that do not don't. If one needs or wants an iPhone, the costs will be worth it. Otherwise buy something else and apple will out the costs until it is low enough to attract the expected number of consumers.

The EC will love the iPhone (3, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687563)

I'm sure the European commission will LOVE apple locking the iPhone to O2, and I'm sure they will LOVE how it will operate together with iTunes. I'm also sure the European market will LOVE that it has shoddy 3G support. Also, I'm sure the lack of big Telecom monopolies in most EU countries will make it just as successful to do this over here as in the US. Don't get me wrong. Apple will make money here. It just won't be because the iPhone or the price plan, or service, or provider will be any good, but rather because the marketing and the hype will be. In short, they are going to offer a very sucky deal combined with a massive marketing campaign, and a lot of idiots will think the iPhone is actually remarkably innovative, when it really isn't even equal to a lot of phones already on the European market.

Then, if it actually does become a large success the EC will want to have something to say about the relationship between the iPhone, iTunes and the iPod, and also the deal with O2. If they actually decide to do something about it then a bunch of people who can barely find Europe on the map, let alone know anything about its legal history, will moan and accuse the EU of being partial against US companies, and as a result get flamed on slashdot [for great justice]. Politics at its finest...

Who cares? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687599)

You're the douche who bought an iPhone.

Differences? Of course. (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687663)

particularly the free mobile-to-mobile calls. Is there some element of the UK iPhone service that I'm missing here
Just because it is the same phone means absolutely nothing. You are paying O2 AKA Telefonica - they may have put this one in a special box and created a bit of a "specialist" contract - but it is still O2 and they will still fit it within their general price-plans. Free mobile to mobile calls will happen when hell freezes over in the UK - it is one of their best revenue generators - the view accepted by the public for absolutely no reason is that it *should* be more expensive than phoning a landline, coupled with more people owning phones and not even having landlines = lots of money for O2. As others have commented, on the other hand UK price plans have perks that the US don't - free incoming calls - folks in the UK would react in disbelief if you told them they had to pay to receive - cheap and unified SMS system (don't know if that has improved in the states in the past few years - but it was an absolute mess, and testament here on /. to the vast benefit that interoperability and common standards bring - hello odf). You are buying a phone - it is a just a bit of electronics - no different to buying a TV in the UK and then complaining that you can't watch NBC on it.

Re:Differences? Of course. (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687949)

Bollocks, you septics know nothing...... Buying a phone in the UK is nowt like buying a television. Twat. Watch NBC? - I'd rather pluck my nose-hair.

Lucky Brits! Stop complaining... (1)

PavementPizza (907876) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687809)

You guys get free access to a nationwide wifi network! We here in the USA wish our iPhone plans included such a bonus.

4 albums at iTunes Store unfair usage? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687923)

The stated 'fair usage' limit in the article is a tiny 200Mb a month. It's possible to exceed that by downloading just 4 albums of music from the iTunes store!

I can't see O2 being able to enforce such a ridiculous limit, it clearly falls foul of the UK's law that states unfair contract terms cannot be enforced.

british people get paid more (0, Redundant)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688169)

I feel qualified to discuss this since i'm British but currently live and work in the USA, in New York.

I work as a Project Manager and get paid $40k, i'm 23 years old. For someone with my background and education, if I was working in London, i'd probably get £30k, ie 60k dollars!

It makes no sense to compare prices and say "omg macs are like twice the price!!!!". Yes but those cheeky Brits are being paid more too! They also pay a lot less in healthcare (nothing).

My UK Phone Deal is free - How does that compare? (1)

bluenovadesign (996064) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688177)

I recently signed up in the UK to a 12 month contract with a new free Nokia 6300, 400 mins 400 texts (including mobile to mobile), with 100% (yes you read it right) cashback. Ok, the phone isn't great (but then i just sold it for £130 and kept my sony walkman phone that i got free last year) - but the comparable deal with the iphone is just laughably expensive. The iPhone looks like a great product but I can't see it being long before the other phone manufacturers bring out products that are of similar quality for a fraction of the price. The mobile market is one area where there is pretty much cut-throat competition in the UK and if you know where to look you can get some scarily impressive deals.
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