The Americans call it Monday morning quarterbacking, describing the self-appointed experts who stand back after the event and sagely offer their wisdom as to how a game was won or lost.

Yeah, they can shop hard, I'm waiting for Click Frenzy. Pic: Fiona Hamilton

The Monday morning quarterbacks have been out in earnest in Australia the past few days gloating over the (apparent) failure of Click Frenzy, the biggest retail experiment our country has ever seen, in which some of the nation’s biggest stores tried to fight back against lethal competition from foreign-based online stores.

The fact that the website crashed unleashed a wave of ridicule and, bizarrely enough, genuine anger towards the stores themselves and the operators of Click Frenzy.

Having your website crash because of the weight of public demand is unfortunate, but it is still a nice problem to have as it underscored people’s willingness to spend their money locally. It is also something that can be rectified next time.

Instead of commending the retailers for doing something for local jobs and businesses, people have been going bananas about the fact that they missed out on the bargain of their choice, claiming that some of the bargains weren’t really bargains at all, moaning that they spent too long waiting for the site to load.

In terms of human behaviour it has been a bit like the Christmas sales where people will half kill each other to be the first to get to the $50 plasma television.

Yet it is the retailers who have been copping all the flak, much of it from the mainstream media, much of it on social media, where the hashtag #clickfail saw the public pile on to register bitter disappointment.

The ACCC is now involved, amid dark warnings that people might receive spam emails from the retailers they signed up with for up to five years.

This is despite the fact that they can go through the simple process of clicking “unsubscribe” and never receive an email again, if they actually bothered to read the terms and conditions.

It puzzles me how the Click Frenzy episode has been discussed and reported. It is only superficially about our ability to shop and save some money. It is actually about something much more important than that - human beings and their ability to hold on to their jobs.

Australians have a weird kind of ambivalence towards their actions as consumers and the viability of industries which they regard as iconic.

Most Australians would agree that it is important that we have our own local car industry, even if they have a Hyundai or a Daewoo in their driveway, and they will criticise governments for failing to stem the loss of Australian jobs, even though their own actions as consumers have helped to create the problem.

I am not advocating protectionism at all, as tariffs distort markets and are economically unsustainable in the long term anyway, but I would encourage a bit more clear thinking on the part of those who can’t see a link between their actions and the industrial realities.

Online shopping is different from the tariff argument though. The difference involves tax. Goods purchased from overseas shopping websites do not attract the GST under the value of $1000.

Even if the goods are valued at more than $1000 there are still ways of getting around paying the tax anyway. This is not a level playing field at all for Australian retailers.

Not only is it a good thing that local firms are banding together to promote domestic online shopping, despite the technical difficulties with this nascent website, I would argue the retailers should muscle up in their demands for the application of the GST on foreign goods.

If you oppose that, that’s fine, but you would have to concede that what you’re effectively saying is that you would rather pay $50 for a pair of jeans than pay a little bit more and keep someone local in work.

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    • Tim the Toolman says:

      09:55am | 23/11/12

      “$50 for a pair of jeans than pay a little bit more and keep someone local in work.”

      Why the dishonesty?  You know (or should, if you’ve been paying a tiny bit of attention), that the disparity is orders of magnitude greater than the GST.  If it was not, I doubt there would be so many people shopping from overseas.  We’re not talking about, on say, a $440 backpack I was looking at buying, a difference of $44.  I can pick it up on my travel through London in a few weeks for around $290 AUD.  So you’re not asking for people to absorb a 10% difference, you’re looking at, on this product alone, a difference of roughly 50% (inclusive of GST). 

      My wife ordered another bag, and paid the same for shipping, the one she wanted which was not in stock locally, and a purse (over $100) for the same price she would have paid to walk into a store to buy the bag.

      The differences are not trivial nor can they be hand-waved away by claiming that the GST is responsible or even a large component.

    • Borderer says:

      11:11am | 23/11/12

      I would happily pay the GST difference to walk into a store and actually see the good I’m buying, have a place I can return it to, in the case of clothes, try them on and most importantly get the good right away.
      I shop overseas because the savings are so huge it’s crazy, ask yourself why some online businesses have an AU option on their websites and won’t ship to Australia unless you use it?
      Prime example, try comparing pram prices (include accessories) between here and the USA.

    • Greg says:

      11:39am | 23/11/12

      Hit the nail on the head right here, many people would happily pay a 10-20% markup if that was all the price difference was but when you can get items from overseas including postage for 50-60% cheaper something is wrong.

      I bought a book off amazon for $55 inc postage to aus because in the shop here it was $110 thats a lot more than just simple GST.

    • Sickemrex says:

      11:44am | 23/11/12

      “A little bit more”? Don’t do much online shopping Penbo? Significant savings, reduced car use, no parking, better service, much wider range.

      Dear Australian retails, keep those heads buried firmly in the sand and pretend it’s all our fault.

    • Sickemrex says:

      11:47am | 23/11/12

      “A little bit more”? Penbo, I take it you don’t do much online shopping. Significant savings, less car use, no parking, better service, wider range.

      Dear Australian retailer. Keep those heads buried deeply in the sand and keep pretending it’s all our fault.

    • ByStealth says:

      12:14pm | 23/11/12

      Videogames are another area where australians get price gouged. The prices are set at what local purchasers would traditionally pay (50% markup over the US).

      I agree with others that going for GST on overseas purchases is just the government seeing a politically feasible way of collecting more tax under the guise of protecting australian industries.

    • marley says:

      01:29pm | 23/11/12

      I think we’ve all had experiences buying stuff from overseas, whether on visits or on line. I bought a camera while I was in Canada because when I checked the prices, it was 280 CAD there and 400 AUD here.  That’s a pretty big mark up.  And that’s comparing prices in mainstream brick and mortars stores.  I bought a book from the UK recently:  $25 AUD and no shipping, compared with $49.99 here.  I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more, or indeed the GST - but damned if I’m going support some Australian retailer to the tune of a 30% or more surcharge on the price abroad.

    • Andrew says:

      10:21am | 23/11/12

      It’s not about GST. You could go ahead and add the GST if you want but most products bought from the US will still cost 50% less than they do here.

      I do wonder how you expect that GST to be collected cost effectively.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:10am | 23/11/12

      Pretty much this.  The “GST for less than $1000 goods” should be seen for what it is: not protecting local retailers, but rather the government jumping ship.  It can’t collect all those lovely sales taxes from the stuff sitting in Australian stores unsold, so it wants to collect it from the stuff coming into this country from other places.

      Also, GST is, unless the rules get heavily changed, collected by the supplier, not by the consumer.  Good luck getting Amazon to pay up taxes, even the Yanks have trouble getting them to do that and it’s in the same country.  As for collecting it from the consumer—well, if they change the rules to that, I foresee a lot more spoofing of IPs and services offering fake Australian addresses for goods to be shipped to.

    • Kika says:

      12:30pm | 23/11/12

      The retailer doesn’t even make money from the GST anyway! There’s no argument in that. GST goes to the ATO yes but it doesn’t make the retailer any richer.

    • Slim says:

      10:22am | 23/11/12

      That the website crashed was entirely avoidable, hence the ridicule. The operators tell us they expected 1 million visits in 24 hours. This was a poor assumption to begin with. Even so, that is about 50,000 an hour or close to 1000 per minute. It’s not that hard to anticipate the need for massive reserve capacity. Instantly scalable server technology is available through Amazon’s S3 platform, for example, which can scale from 50 hits an hour to millions almost instantly. That the entrepreneur behind this scheme didn’t anticipate this, or worse, didn’t care, speaks directly to his competence. It’s not rocket surgery. Not good enough.

    • Davo says:

      10:23am | 23/11/12

      Why did they think putting dozens of major retailers on one website and trying to sell everything in 24 hours wouldn’t make it crash? Every retailer should have their own website on their own server and just be accessible all year round. But if the prices are going to be not much different anyway why bother. I can order from Germany or America just as easy from home as ordering from Sydney or Melbourne.

    • Schmavo says:

      10:33am | 23/11/12

      I would like to hire the brains behind Click Frenzy to organise all that free publicity for my business. Priceless! I wonder how graysonline feel about the hype?

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      10:41am | 23/11/12

      “I am not advocating protectionism at all, as tariffs distort markets and are economically unsustainable in the long term anyway,”

      Protectionism doesn’t seem to have hurt the Asian countries who are heavily protectionist but eschew obvious protectionist measures such as tariff barriers in favor of regulating currency exchange, foreign investment, foreign land ownership etc. Meanwhile free trade countries like the United States and Great Britain are doing poorly.

    • marley says:

      11:36am | 23/11/12

      “Meanwhile free trade countries like the United States and Great Britain are doing poorly.”  And free trade countries like Canada and Germany are doing well.  Maybe there’s more than free trade involved.

    • Ally says:

      10:48am | 23/11/12

      I can’t believe you’re bringing this back to the GST issue. To start with, how exactly are you proposing that it be collected on overseas purchases? I can’t see how you can force foreign companies to do it. Or are you proposing that customs should be doing it as packages enter the country?

      As well as this, any person that shops online will tell that avoiding the GST is not why they do it. It’s because there is a huge mark up on products in Australia, the range is smaller and the service is crap. A lot of the Australian retailers that are online have slow turn around times for orders and charge like wounded bulls for postage.

      Complaining about the GST is just local retailers trying to push the problem on to someone else so they don’t have to have a good hard look at their business models.

    • john says:

      11:35am | 23/11/12

      From famous pop culture : McCoy- “It’s worse than that — he’s dead, Jim!”

      Ally, no-one ‘LIKES’  to pay tax, even GST - that we can all agree.
      Unless addressed , tax evasion on a global scale via internet purchasing/selling will go down as being a larger rort than enron,freddiemac,fanniemae, bernie madoff -combined.
      Global internet sales will be nearer to 1 trillion as stated by JPmorgan “J.P. Morgan anticipates that global e-commerce revenue will hit a whopping $963 billion by 2013.”
      How much of the above sales are tax free you think, $100B ?
      Private sales on other auction sites and other burgeoning classified sites that figure must be higher.
      The issue isn’t business models, the issue is similar to greece’s problem where long term tax evasion causes serious long term harm on may levels, and then starts to impact on the next generation and to a lesser extent on the retiring generation.

      Its a global problem that simply has been neglected by governments, and now is impacting on each others countries as well.

      On the flip side when governments-the very people voted to guide us morally and manage our country- demonstrate how they mis-use tax dollars on themselves -holiday junkets, exorbitant pay rises etc. then one feels tax evasion is justified?

      Oh the shame of it all. GFC on us all.

      A global disgrace.

    • Ally says:

      12:34pm | 23/11/12

      Again, how are you expecting to collect this tax? Wasn’t it the Productivity Commission that estimated it would cost more to collect GST on overseas purchases that cost under $1000 than it would raise in revenue? And I hardly think you can compare online shopping with the culture of tax evasion in countries like Greece.

      I like supporting local retailers, but not when they are blatantly overcharging and not even providing excellent customer service to make up for it. Local retailers have stuck their heads in the sand for too long thinking that online retailing was a short term fad and they could keep overcharging.

    • Mike says:

      10:49am | 23/11/12

      “This is not a level playing field at all for Australian retailers.”

      Yes, they can’t compete on price. Have they maybe thought about competing on something else, like service? If they’re offering the exact same product for double the price, chucked in a bag by an eye-rolling teenager, then my patience for their bleating is very limited.

    • Tim the Toolman says:

      11:11am | 23/11/12

      “Have they maybe thought about competing on something else, like service?”

      An example, when I was in KL earlier in the year, I was grabbing armloads of items that I had not expected to buy.  So, in a circumstance I find myself in regularly, due to poor forward thinking, I was in the middle of the store trying to balance a pile of items.  In Australia, this results in me having to suck it up and deal with it.  In KL, an assistant saw me, rushed off, grabbed a basket and helped me transfer the items into it.

    • ByStealth says:

      12:16pm | 23/11/12

      Exactly. Let ‘assume’ that its not about being a level playing field, and that its just plain competition. Australian retailers would still react just as they are now.

    • Gerry Harveys propagandist says:

      11:03am | 23/11/12

      “If you oppose that, that’s fine, but you would have to concede that what you’re effectively saying is that you would rather pay $50 for a pair of jeans than pay a little bit more and keep someone local in work. ”

      Is this a paid ad for Harvey Norman/Westfield/The rest of the Australian Retail Mafia?

      The fact of the maater is that for years Australian retailers have been gouging the Australian public, and in the pre Internet days thry could get away with it because the public didnt know any better. Well those days are over and now the Australian public can order direct from overseas retailers like Amazon etc. Now Jerry and the retail Mafia are crying foul to the goverment its not fair the Australian people arent buying our overpriced goods!! (and by overpriced I mean much more than the 10% GST) Tax them!!

      I have noticed with considerable contempt since the Retailers campaign started that the goverments position keeps slipping.

      Orginally it was no where not going to put GST on goods under $1000 it would cost more to run than we would get back in tax.

      Then it slipped to we need a comittee to look into it

      and lately its got to we should probbably do it

      How much money has the Retail Mafia donated to the major political partys to get this turn around thats what I want to know?

    • Meh says:

      11:18am | 23/11/12

      The internet has decimated regional pricing policies and Australian sellers need to ban together to get products at close to the same price as availble internationally.

      Camera’s through Kogan’s, which are essentially imports from HK, are 2/3rds the price of locally sold products. Even with postage and a 10% GST, I still saved around $200 on a DLSR for christmas.

      Before ordering I tried every major sellers “Price Match” service and not one would come within $200 of what I am paying. Can’t give the locals much more of a chance than asking to be sold to at the price you can get it, I was even willing to pay an extra $50 to $100 to keep it local.

    • Ally says:

      11:35am | 23/11/12

      Agreed on the regional pricing. Even something like makeup has ridiculous price differences. The foundation you buy here for $37 is something like $12 in the US. My sister and I ordered a bunch of makeup between us and saved well over $100 each, even once we paid postage.

    • Hmmmm says:

      11:18am | 23/11/12

      Wow Penbo, bit of a mismatched ‘article’. What exactly are you trying to say?

      ClickFrenzy - They underscoped their infrastructure, datamined their clients and wasted hours of peoples time - why should the target clients be angry?
      Unsubscribe - LOL are you serious? Here is how it works.
      You sign up under the Privacy Policy, you dont read the part that says they have the right to sell non personal information to 3rd parties. Guess what - email addresses are considered non personal information.
      So you unsubscribed to the ClickFrenzy spam, how do you unsubscribe from the 20 companies they sold your data too?
      Replying Unsubscribe to a spammer only lets them know the email address is active, then they will on-sell that to another 20 lists.

      As for Aussies retailers of which I used to be one.
      Guess what we cant get away with 20-30 % markups anymore. Sorry guys we screwed ourselves here with globilisation.
      Cut down to 10-15% - Actually fire your shit staff that dont give customer service and actually think about how to get people into your bricks and mortar stores. Plenty of businesses are still doing fine.
      Sell 30 Items at 10% + instead of 10 Items at 30% +

      Worlds changed and whinging has never been scientifically proven to reverse it.

    • Kika says:

      11:49am | 23/11/12

      “If you oppose that, that’s fine, but you would have to concede that what you’re effectively saying is that you would rather pay $50 for a pair of jeans than pay a little bit more and keep someone local in work”


      Paying GST or not is irrelevant! GST is a tax, right? So retailer doesn’t ‘earn’ GST, it pays GST earned on their goods and services back to the ATO on their BAS statements. Unless you mean keeping public servants working for the ATO in their jobs… that is?

    • Ally says:

      12:37pm | 23/11/12

      No, what he’s saying is that local retailers miss out on sales when people buy overseas. No sales = no income = no jobs.

    • Rich says:

      02:19pm | 23/11/12

      Well they could lower the extreme prices that are being charged. In fact, I’ve noticed David Jones advertising that they have arranged with distributors to dramatically lower prices on a large number of products by up to 50%. So this is proof local prices can be lowered and also proof that the distribution channel in this country has been mainly to blame for high prices.

    • J.Locke says:

      11:50am | 23/11/12

      It’s not just about saving money. The quality of goods and service don’t match the high prices.  Sure, charge me a bit extra to keep someone in a job, but don’t sell me cheap rubbish served with a load of rudeness.

      Retail is making the mistake of trying to be expensive and backwards at the same time.  They’re going to have to pick one.

    • St. Michael says:

      12:04pm | 23/11/12

      Hmmm.  Hunch ate my response? Let’s find out:

      Penbo, some of this article is seriously misleading.  You should consider retraction or correction of an aspect of it.

      “The ACCC is now involved, amid dark warnings that people might receive spam emails from the retailers they signed up with for up to five years.  This is despite the fact that they can go through the simple process of clicking “unsubscribe” and never receive an email again, if they actually bothered to read the terms and conditions.”

      I bothered to actually go and read ClickFrenzy’s Privacy Policy, which (per clause 3.1) has to be read in association with and therefore forms part of the terms and conditions of using that site.  You can find the Privacy Policy:

      The most germane provision I found was this one:

      “3.5 With your consent, we may share your personal information that you provided to when you register (including registration for specials, updates or promotions via email) with our affiliates for direct marketing purposes. Subject to your continuing consent, your personal information will be processed for direct marketing purposes for a maximum of five (5) years from the date of your consent.”

      I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that when you first registered for ClickFrenzy, there was a small box you were required to tick which said, in effect “I agree to the terms and conditions” before you could go on the site.

      If so, guess what: you consented to clause 3.5 above. 

      Clicking “unsubscribe” does just what it says: it removes you from ClickFrenzy’s subscription list—but it does not wipe your details from their affiliates, i.e. their advertisers.  For that, you would have to somehow e-mail ClickFrenzy and demand the removal of your details—independently of an unsubscribe.  I’d be betting most people won’t do that.  And ClickFrenzy has no control of your details and doesn’t even try to control them once they’ve gone to third parties.

      In other words, the ACCC’s dark warnings are perfectly justified.  Unsubscribing gets you off ClickFrenzy’s mailing list.  It doesn’t remove your details from its system, or indeed all its other systems.  You should be correcting your article in light of that.

      Although I’m sure this part of the Privacy Policy would bring a song to your heart, given your attitudes to intrusive security legislation against bikies:

      “4.1 We may disclose your personal information to third parties in the following circumstances -
      (a) if required to do so or permitted by law;
      (b) to various regulatory bodies and law enforcement officials and agencies to protect against fraud and for security purposes; and
      (c) to our third party service providers as well as to our related entities for the purpose of providing links to products or responding to your enquiries.”

    • MF says:

      12:04pm | 23/11/12

      “...but you would have to concede that what you’re effectively saying is that you would rather pay $50 for a pair of jeans than pay a little bit more and keep someone local in work.”

      A little bit more? No problems. When you can buy Levi’s from the US for $20-25 and they’re over $100 in Australian shops, that’s not a “little bit” more. That’s a joke.

      I would love to support Australian retail and am prepared to pay a small price premium to do so. But the Australian price premium is a national joke. If anybody thinks introducing the GST on items less than $1000 is going to make a lick of difference to people’s online shopping habits, they’re deluding themselves.

    • Kevb says:

      12:21pm | 23/11/12

      “If you oppose that, that’s fine, but you would have to concede that what you’re effectively saying is that you would rather pay $50 for a pair of jeans than pay a little bit more and keep someone local in work. ” - It’s not my responsibility to support a business just so people have a job. Businesses have to earn their sales just like anyone else. I’m not going to buy from a local store just because they are there.

      If you want to stem the bleeding from lost sales, shut up, stop whinging and start innovating and thinking of creative ways to win the customer over. I don’t even know why I have to say this because anyone who runs a business should know that this is just part of the job.

    • steve says:

      12:22pm | 23/11/12

      “Most Australians would agree that it is important that we have our own local car industry”

      Since when?

      Last time i checked the government was subsidising our car industry with $3b a year.  And there was apparently 50 thousand workers in the industry, so they could have just given them all $60k a year each.  Most workers would have probably been better off.

      Why is this industry needed?  What logical arguments can you make to convince me that an industry that requires so much subsidy is worth keeping?  Surely the money could be better spent putting the people in the car industry to a more useful cause.

    • SAm says:

      12:34pm | 23/11/12

      Retailers calls to have the GST on imports is nothing to do with ‘saving jobs’, they know it, we know it. Its all about spite. Its about some form of financial penalty for being ‘unaustralian’. Its this nasty, vindictive attitude that people have had enough of, and why you wont find much love for retailers among many people.
      It is not a crime for people to try to get the best deal so quit supporting such a nasty, dead industry

    • david says:

      12:35pm | 23/11/12

      People will drift back to the shopping locally when the Aussie dollar drops against the US dollar.

    • St. Michael says:

      01:14pm | 23/11/12

      You’ll be waiting a long, long time for that.  Per this article:  the Australian dollar has achieved the status of a reserve currency so far as the IMF is concerned.  In other words, our dollar is seen as more stable than the US dollar, stable enough to act as a reserve currency just as the US dollar was a reserve currency for the past hundred-odd years.

      That alone is going to guarantee our dollar stays at a pretty high price for quite some time.

      The other point is that the US is printing money.  As in, Bernanke has said he will print about 40 billion in US dollars every month until unemployment starts to reverse itself.  That guarantees the US’s dollar value will stay low—because there’s too much of it around.  Eventually that shell game’s going to wind up in hyperinflation in the US in the next five years or less, but the net effect for the Australian dollar is that it’s going to remain much, much cheaper to import from the US for the better part of the next decade or more.

    • Esteban says:

      05:15pm | 23/11/12

      Also google up “Russia China oil deal”. Apparently in September Russia agreed to sell unlimited amounts of oil to China in Yuan NOT US Dollars.

      China will on sell the oil to any other country also in Yuan.

      Iran will also be selling oil toChina in Yuan to circumvent US sanctions.

      If the USD loses its status as the sole Perto dollar then the USA’s ability to continue with debt and deficits will be diminished.

      Either way this is not good news for the USD or those expecting the AUD to fall against the USD any time soon.

      It may even be the precursor for a major financial collapse.

    • St. Michael says:

      06:25pm | 23/11/12

      Ah, it’s started, has it Esteban? I seem to remember you predicting a switchover to oil deals in other than US dollars would be the beginning of the end…?

    • YaThink says:

      12:48pm | 23/11/12

      I am assuming that you had to do this piece in a hurry Mr Penberthy and didn’t get time to do any research on it?  In tech worlds they were complaining about all the advertising that this media hype was getting prior to the event itself.  Small “Australian” online retailers were also complaining.  But I guess they don’t pay the various media organisations big bikkies in advertising so no-one is interested in them?

      Basically, just viewing the site prior to launch would have had to make you suspicious.  For something that was supposed to be the next big thing, it was not even built with custom software, instead with Free Open Source software (that had been customised, and not very well).  A small retailer who sells at the market with an open source e-comm system is fine, even a larger one who has paid decent money to customise an open source piece of software is fine, BUT, for what these guys wanted to do, not a hope in hell and just about anyone with any knowledge of online software could have told the media who were fawning all over these people that.

      I won’t even start on their ‘self-hosted’ cloud rubbish as I would need my husband to do the technical stuff there.  But again, was never going to work.  Then we get to the pre-registration?  Hello?  Why would that be needed at all unless you were trying to make money out of email lists?  You wanted to have an indication of visitor numbers, fine, just put in a little form, there was no need to datamine at all, that alone is suspicious.

      What is probably most satisfying, is that there are a lot of small australian online retailers who do ok but never get the same advertising as the likes of Myer etc., they also don’t have the same mark-ups.  Most survive with a 10-15% mark up as the regular online purchaser is aware that the costs of running an online business are lower than a bricks & mortar one.  Hence, they expect a lower price, even with GST added.  These big boys tried to do what they have always done, get away with a heap of publicity and not really offer a bargain.  Seriously, on some of that product they would have still had about a 100% mark-up (instead of their usual 300%), but without the added costs you would have in a ‘real’ store.  Can you honestly blame all the little people for not crowing when it is found that the big PR ploy from the likes of Myer, Harvey Norman etc., who have spent decades trying to push smaller business to the wall fail?

      Personally I think the people who expected to get big bargains were silly.  Did they honestly believe Myer would give you 90% off something?  Sorry Mr Penberthy, no Monday morning quarterbacking here.  If the media had actually had a few online software ‘experts’ have a look over this before they shouted this scam from rooftops, instead of just talking to the so-called ‘entrepreneur’ behind this (ask some techs what his reputation really is?)  they would not be looking so silly now.

      The big end of retail town got what they deserved!  As they say in Hustle “You can only con a greedy person”.

    • Smulder says:

      01:27pm | 23/11/12

      The real agenda of the Australian retailers is not the 10% GST, it is the $150 customs fee that applies to all imported goods over the threshhold, and the 2 weeks it takes to clear customs… not to mention the paperwork involved to get your goods released.

      Noone cares about the $2 GST added on top of the $20 book you bought from Book Depository. But if your $20 book is now over the GST threshold, and attracted a $150 customs fee, 3 hours of paperwork and 2 weeks to clear, it might not seem so attractive.

      Their aim is to make it so expensive, time consuming and difficult to buy that DVD from Amazon that you are willing to pay their 400% mark-ups instead.

      The GST issue is just a distraction, and people are falling for it hook, line and sinker… including The Punch it seems.

    • Rich says:

      02:26pm | 23/11/12

      More like a $50 customs fee for over $1000. Considering the importers are bringing in thousands, tens of thousands or 100’s of thousands of dollars worth of goods, that $50 is insignificant in the big picture. Read my post below. The biggest reason for high prices in Australia is single distributors getting exclusive access to the brand names.

    • Redeker Plan says:

      01:42pm | 23/11/12

      This consistent whinging about the GST is a total red herring.  10% is not what’s driving me to shop online; I would happily pay 10% extra to be offered the full range of clothes, shoes, etc. that are available to consumers in other countries, in a shop I could walk into, try them on and buy that day.  But sadly, this is simply not the case.

      Example: a couple months ago I needed a pair of casual good walking shoes/sneakers that were suitable for wearing to work.  I’ve always worn Rockports even though they’re hideously expensive and many of them are not the most attractive shoes.  So I looked up their Australian website, saw some really nice ones I liked in a gorgeous range of colours, got a bit excited (comfort AND style – whatever next!) and looked up stockists.  Rang the nearest Athlete’s Foot and asked them if they had this particular shoe. Answer “Yes”. After payday, I dutifully travelled to the nearest Athlete’s Foot.  Yes they had the shoe.  They had it in black or oatmeal coloured leather, at $189 a pair. The other EIGHT colour and fabric combinations on the website were not offered in Australia. The lovely young bloke working assisting me looked around before whispering that I “should maybe try online”.

      So I tried the ugly ones on, and the young bloke wrote down my US size. I went home, got onto Amazon. Looked them up and there they were – all colour and fabric choices available in my size. One pair I liked was US$55. Another was $58. I bought both, and even with shipping at over US$20, I got two pairs of shoes that I loved for less than the price of one pair of the arse-ugly ones being flogged at me here.  Even if the GST HAD been applied I STILL would have been ahead!

      So should I feel guilty about not supporting Australian retail? To tell the truth for a couple of hours I actually did feel a bit bad about not being able to give a sale to the young guy working at the shop here, as he was a fantastic help and offered great service.  But I’m not going to buy shoes I don’t like at a rip-off price just because some retail buyer thinks that I’ll accept whatever crap gets thrown in front of me.

      But nah, Australian retailers; you keep telling yourself it’s about the GST….

    • Rich says:

      02:13pm | 23/11/12

      Unfortunately, so much brand name product in Australia is controlled by a single distributor who gets exclusive control and can therefore mark up the products horrendously. They could get away with it before people became aware of just how much extra we are paying. Well, they can’t do it anymore. For this reason, unless i only see a reasonable price difference, I will not generally support local as they have a history of fleecing us when they had the chance.

    • Disgruntled Goat says:

      04:05pm | 23/11/12

      Retail will always exist in Australia, lets face it there is always that new shirt, replacement toaster, new batteries you need to get the same day instead of waiting days to weeks.

      That said more needs to be done to reduce the cost of items! rents NEED to be dropped for starters for retain tenants also one thing is the local pricing on digitally distributed items is a massive SCAM, for versions of Adobe products you are looking at hundreds if not an extra K more for a product DOWNLOADED over the net, also the local steam store will sell a new release game for the EXACT price as a physical copy (though Valve does have those awesome “summer” and “xmas sales”.)

      One last thing Australians simply are being gouged by car rego, utility bills, food prices so most of us will look online to save money and get things we like!

    • expat says:

      04:18pm | 23/11/12

      It is far more complicated than just the GST and retailers marking up prices.

      The cost of running the business in Australia is far greater than that of any of the online retailers.
      You can start an online shop with the servers based in cyprus for minimal tax, the minimal labour, warehousing and servicing in the philippines, selling direct to Australian consumers and not be expected to comply with a single rule or regulation within Australia including the ACCC.

      Tell me why anyone would want to have a brick and mortar retail business in Aus?

    • Debbie says:

      05:12pm | 23/11/12

      Last Xmas I ordered some military books for my husband for Xmas from an online store in the US and a couple of others ( that were in stock and availalbe) from a store in Melbourne over the phone. 3 days later my books arrived - from the USA, at less than 50% of the cost of the books here. 2 weeks later, my books arrived from Melbourne!


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