Consumer groups take on tech prices

Consumer groups have demanded action after MPs confirmed Australians are being walloped with sky-high tech prices. Resource-8

Aussies are being forced to pay between 50 and 100 per cent extra for some products compared with prices in other developed nations, the parliamentary communications committee said.

It tabled a series of recommendations on Monday to try to reduce local costs after hauling in leading executives from Apple, Microsoft, Adobe, and others to give evidence about their pricing regimes.

The committee’s report characterised the higher tech prices as an “Australia tax”, deliberately implemented by major vendors and copyright holders.

Consumer group Choice urged bipartisan support for the recommendations, including a possible end to geo-blocking – the method that prevents consumers using the internet to buy products cheaper from overseas.

“Our research shows Australians cop a raw deal on digital prices,” Choice director of campaigns Matt Levey said.

“Today’s report provides a much-needed trigger for government action to terminate the so-called ‘Australia tax’.”

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) said higher tech prices were particularly hard on those with disabilities and low incomes. It cited the example of a screen-reading software package, designed to help people with sight disabilities, which it says costs $1095 in the US and $1420 in Australia.

ACCAN urged both sides of politics to commit to a government-led accessible IT procurement policy, saying it could help drive down prices. Apple and Microsoft declined to comment on Monday’s report when contacted by AAP.

AAP

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