Parliamentary Inquiry into software pricing.

Why are Australian consumers consistently ripped off? The Australian Government announces a Parliamentary Inquiry into Software Pricing.

Parliamentary Inquiry announced

As a follow-up to my previous blog entry regarding software price gouging in Australia (The Great Adobe Lightroom Ripoff),  I note that a Parliamentary Inquiry is to be conducted into the issue.   Whilst my earlier blog entry was focused specifically on Adobe’s pricing policies, it’s clear that (in the Australian context at least) this is part of a wider problem where overseas (for the most part US) based software companies engage in blatant price gouging based on customer location.

software supplier
Alternate software retailer!

As reported in several newspapers including the Sydney Morning Herald the issue has come to the attention of Australia’s Federal Parliament with concerns raised regarding the policies of several companies including Apple and Adobe.

The Australia Tax

From the SMH article:

-The debate over pricing surfaced again last week when global software company Adobe revealed Australians would pay up to $1400 more for the same software compared with US residents

-”The excuses overseas technology companies used to justify the higher prices, such as the small size of the market, the cost of setting up support centres and the imposition of local taxes and duties, were not acceptable.” – Choice spokeswoman Ingrid Just,  (Choice is a non-profit consumer advocacy group which publishes a magazine of the same title. ~KD)

-In the words of one Australian Web developer,  it’s  ”the Australia Tax, the tax we pay just by being in Australia”.

Feeble excuses

The SMH goes on to cite last years Productivity Commission report,   which I’ll quote more fully here;

-Some international suppliers have attempted to defend price discrimination due to the cost of supplying a remote and relatively small market like Australia, which in some cases has its own unique requirements. These arguments, in most cases, are not persuasive, especially in the case, for example, of downloaded music, software and videos where the costs of delivery to the customer are practically zero and uniform around the world.    (Ref:  Australian Government-Productivity Commission Inquiry, Report No. 56. 4, Page 23, Regional price discrimination is now much more visible.  November 2011)

The key phrase here being  “….the costs of delivery to the customer are practically zero and uniform around the world“.


With the current state of Australian Federal politics being what it is,  with a hung parliament,  decisions based on sweet-heart deals with minor parties and single-issue focused independents,  a lack of willingness to act in a decisive and timely manner with apparently corrupt colleagues, etc,  it’s hard to be too optimistic that this issue will see forceful action.   The underlying problem is a lack of genuine competition in the market and hence some of these companies can display almost monopolistic hubris. It can only be hoped that enough publicity is generated to embarrass, shame, or otherwise inspire these companies, including Adobe,  to start treating their customers with some respect.     ~KD.