Forget about the "rent is too damned high" party, gamers down under are getting robbed by retailers, according to a consumer group. Australian consumer rights publication CHOICE has submitted a document to the government's Productivity Commission last week demanding retailers lower the price of games.
The group called on "importers, distributors and retailers to pass some of the savings they are enjoying thanks to the strong Aussie dollar on to Australian consumers." As an example, CHOICE claims that Australian consumers can save about 90 percent on the price of Portal 2 if they purchase it abroad instead of at home.
The Australian dollar is worth about as much as the US dollar, CHOICE says, but the price of video games has not come down in the country.
"Who can blame them," CHOICE notes in its statement, "when Xbox and PlayStation 3 games cost 91% more from a major Australian online retailer than from an overseas online website based in Asia?"
They have a point. CHOICE's director of campaigns and communications Christopher Zinn adds that Australian retailers are becoming complacent.
"The pressure from overseas online competition is a much needed wake up for Australian retailers to be more competitive," he wrote.
CHOICE also challenges the retail industry's claim that the GST-free threshold for products under $1000 is the cause of higher prices.
"Adding 10% to the cost of a product that is 91% cheaper is not an effective deterrent," CHOICE writes. "This is a distraction from the real issue of excessive mark-ups and challenges the industry to offer realistic explanations on why prices are so high or - better yet - begin offering better deals for Australian consumers. The imposition of a GST on overseas purchases will not make the threat of far better deals overseas go away."
We'll follow up on this story as it develops.