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Australia Communications The Almighty Buck Technology

Australian Post Office Opens Mail Forwarding Warehouse In the USA 142

Zanadou writes Australians are well used to paying what's called an "Australian Tax": high(er) prices for international products and services simply because they are are being accessed from an Australian IP address and/or being delivered to an Australian mail address. But Australia Post, Australia's national mail service, might have a solution: last week they opened a new warehouse/delivery depot in Oregon, U.S., allowing Australians to use a U.S.-based delivery address for mail items, which can then forwarded onwards to Australia.

However, this service, called "Shopmate", comes at a cost.
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Australian Post Office Opens Mail Forwarding Warehouse In the USA

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  • and terminated.

    • by slazzy ( 864185 )
      No need, retailers will simply learn the addresses and apply the "Australia Tax" to those shipping addresses so they can keep profiting from it.
      • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @02:02PM (#48326951)

        It's not US retailers, generally, who are overcharging Australians. If the retailers also do business in Australia, they might care. But if you buy something from a company with no presence in Australia who previously wouldn't ship there themselves, then it'll be fine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Etherwalk ( 681268 )

          It's not US retailers, generally, who are overcharging Australians. If the retailers also do business in Australia, they might care. But if you buy something from a company with no presence in Australia who previously wouldn't ship there themselves, then it'll be fine.

          This. It's like Canada--the middle-man makes a ridiculous amount of money because there's less competition in middle-men, so products often cost more than in the states. It's not as bad as it was pre-NAFTA, but it's not great either. The cost of a tire was at least 30% higher the last time I checked, although YMMV.

          • The cost of a tire was at least 30% higher the last time I checked, although YMMV.

            Is there really a correlation between the varying retail price of a tire and its mileage?

            • Yes. I bought a set of Michellins and they were good for about 60,000 miles but the cheaper brand only lasted for 40,000.
            • To some degree, however not really.

              Tire life depends on tread wear.

              The higher the tread wear, the less sticky the tire.

              So tire life (mileage) also depends on tire performance.

              High performance tires, or stickier tires, don't last long. If you get a very long lasting tire, it'll be a great highway tire, but not as good at handling and breaking distance.

              • Completely missed my point. GP post was talking about the cost of a specific tire changing based on there being a middle man. I'm not talking about different brands/models.

          • by mjwx ( 966435 )

            It's not US retailers, generally, who are overcharging Australians. If the retailers also do business in Australia, they might care. But if you buy something from a company with no presence in Australia who previously wouldn't ship there themselves, then it'll be fine.

            This. It's like Canada--the middle-man makes a ridiculous amount of money because there's less competition in middle-men, so products often cost more than in the states. It's not as bad as it was pre-NAFTA, but it's not great either. The cost of a tire was at least 30% higher the last time I checked, although YMMV.

            This. Distributors take the absolute piss with pricing. A CD that costs $10-15 in the US costs $25-30 in Australia however to ship the same media from the US to Australia it costs less than $5 to do it on an indivdual basis (I order all of my games from the UK or Hong Kong). Tyres are another one, good Continental tyres (225/45/17) cost $150 a corner from tirerack.com, but if I ordered them in Australia from an Australian distributor it would be over $200 a corner.

  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @01:29PM (#48326615) Homepage Journal

    You have to deliver the package to the prison office for inspection before prisoners can receive the delivery.

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @01:49PM (#48326809)

      You have to deliver the package to the prison office for inspection before prisoners can receive the delivery.

      I'll have you know that in Oz, having criminals in your family history who were deported to Australia is actually a bit of a status symbol. Especially if you can trace them back to the First Fleet [wikipedia.org]. I'm a bit pissed, as I can't do that as all my ancestors were free settlers.

      And the reason that the Brits started dumping convicts in Australia was partly because of some war or something that they had with a former colony that stopped them from sending the prisoners there. [wikipedia.org]

      And in the words of some comic (who I can't remember)

      I'd rather live in a country founded by convicts, than one founded by Puritans

      • by quenda ( 644621 )

        I'll have you know that in Oz,... I'm a bit pissed, ... the Brits ... some war or something that they had with a former colony

        I'm going to call you out as a fake Aussie. "Pissed" means drunk here (we say "pissed off"), and we never call the British "Brits".

        • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @03:58PM (#48327833)

          I'm going to call you out as a fake Aussie. "Pissed" means drunk here (we say "pissed off"), and we never call the British "Brits".

          Struth mate[1]. Don't come the raw prawn with me. Pissed can have multiple meanings, and you sound more like a whining pom than any brit.

          And yeah .. I did bring the aerogard last weekend

          [1] And if you don't know how to parse that, then I hope your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down.

          • As someone who doesn't live in Australia and is unaware of Australia jargon, could I get a translation into latin?

            • Americani Ite Domum [wikipedia.org]

              i.e. Go home, Yanks! :)

            • by fj3k ( 993224 )
              Vah, amicus! Et dedisti mihi, squilla, rudis! 'Pissed' plures significationes. Tu magis sonant plus sicut a doletium 'pom', Britannus.
              Ego obtuli, 'aerogard' ultimum volutpat vestibulum.
              Si non intelligitur, spero gallina ad 'emus' pullis vestra delenda ad latrina.

              Disclaimer: my Latin is terrible.
            • by sr180 ( 700526 )

              Translation:
              Please stop being unreasonable. I do not believe the lies that you are telling. Pissed can mean angry, drunk, annoyed etc. You sound more like an Englishman.

              I am Australian, because last weekend I had an outdoor grill, where I remembered to bring the insect repellent. Mosquitos are an issue for most parts of Australia in summer.

              If you do not understand what I am saying, then I place a nasty curse on you. (Your chickens turn into large Australians birds (like ostriches) and kick down your outsid

        • In the part of the arse end of the world where I live, the usage of "pissed" as "angry" instead of "pissed off" is fine, if the context is clear. Maybe it's a regional thing.
      • Though around 150,000 convicts were sent to Australia, we can't forget that around 50,000 were sent to the American colonies as well.

        http://www.amazon.com/Bound-Iron-Chain-Transported-Convicts/dp/098367440X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309874514&sr=8-1

        America has some claim to convict glory as well :-)

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        I'll just remind you that South Australia and Adelaide where directly founded as an independent colony ( "The goal was to establish the province as a centre of civilisation for free immigrants, promising civil liberties and religious tolerance" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... [wikipedia.org]) no convicts at all, just happened to share a continent with them. South Australia just became a part of the same country at Federation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]. So we tend to agree with the rest of the world when it comes

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        You have to deliver the package to the prison office for inspection before prisoners can receive the delivery.

        I'll have you know that in Oz, having criminals in your family history who were deported to Australia is actually a bit of a status symbol. Especially if you can trace them back to the First Fleet [wikipedia.org]. I'm a bit pissed, as I can't do that as all my ancestors were free settlers.

        And the reason that the Brits started dumping convicts in Australia was partly because of some war or something that they had with a former colony that stopped them from sending the prisoners there. [wikipedia.org]

        And in the words of some comic (who I can't remember)

        I'd rather live in a country founded by convicts, than one founded by Puritans

        The interesting thing about penal transportation from England is that they never transported dangerous criminals, only petty criminals. So the majority of crimes were petty theft, unable to repay debt (there were debtors prisons back then) and being Irish (because displaying an Irish flag was considered sedition). The hardened criminals like rapists, murderers, politicians were imprisoned in England. So we call them POHMS (Prisoners of His/Her Majesty).

        One of the reasons Australia has such a high occurr

  • Now if only we could end the even more idiotic practice of regional price gouging for digital goods/services too.
    • Re:Good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @01:36PM (#48326677) Homepage Journal

      At the company I used to work for we ran into this but in reverse.
      A company in South Africa wanted to buy our software but they didn't want to pay the same as in the US they said it was too expensive for the market.
      The issue was that it was a lot more expensive for us to support customers outside the US and Canada than in the US and Canada. In the end they paid the same as everyone else.
      And yes we charged everyone he same rate but some nations really wanted us to take a lot less.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        When I lived in the UK, I'd have US companies tell me we had to pay more because it was more expensive to support companies in the EU because they had to translate the software from English....

        • Isn't there some ring of truth to that? I can't remember the specific laws, but I was pretty sure that if your business discriminated against any particular national who was also part of the EU, it was some kind of hate crime (not that extreme of a punishment, but you were discriminating against them somehow.)

          Basically like how in Canada you can't provide services only in English, you have to provide them in French too.

          • by sdoca ( 1225022 )
            The federal government in Canada is officially bilingual and provides services in both official languages. The only province that is bilingual is New Brunswick and it also provides services in both languages. Quebec is unilingual French, and is required to only provide services in that language. All other provinces are unilingual English.
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          The added support cost was in staffing and phones. The phone issue was solved by the customer getting VOIP lines with US numbers. The staffing never was. You see people in the UK start work a lot earlier than the US so we had to increase staffing at that hour.

      • It sounds like the software your company was selling either included a lot of skilled labor hours in the price, or required substantial localization and wasn't exactly a household product.

        Charging poorer customers less is really only doable when the per-unit costs are small enough that you still make money at the discounted rate. Often the case for software and media if support is essentially nonexistent and localization is sufficiently cheap or spread out across enough units; but that's more likely with
        • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

          Yes. It was targeted to specific industry and ran 4k a seat.
          But at least we charged the same to everyone.

  • Does ANYONE think that this would be happening if the gov agencies didn't think they could get something from it ?

    It would allow the Australian NSA access without violating those pesky laws they're supposed to follow...

    • Sure Australia Post, a government owned entity, gets money from it when people pay them for the service.

      From a snooping perspective it makes no difference. The government can search any package it wants that is being imported into the country.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        Sure Australia Post, a government owned entity, gets money from it when people pay them for the service.

        From a snooping perspective it makes no difference. The government can search any package it wants that is being imported into the country.

        This.

        If I get a packaged Fed Ex'd from the US to Australia (which is something I do on a semi regular basis) it still has to pass customs and quarantine. For some things I have to do a customs declaration as I did for some knives and a bottle of spirits that you cant get in Oz (yep you can import liquor, but you still have to pay tax on it).

        So it's not a snooping issue. It's Australia post trying to make more money and stay relevant in the market in an age where traditional post is almost dead. Person

      • The government can search any package it wants that is being imported into the country.

        Which is pretty much true for any government in any part of the world. There are certain mutually-agreed exceptions, such as countries within the Schengen region not searching packages from other Schengen countries without prior evidence of a crime (e.g., sniffer bees drawing attention to the package), but generally it's the case that all mail into or out of a country is subject to search for contraband. Which includes pa

    • by OzPeter ( 195038 )

      It would allow the Australian NSA access without violating those pesky laws they're supposed to follow...

      What pesky laws are those? I'm pretty certain that governments already have the rights to inspect any goods that pass over their borders and to know the details of who is transporting them, where they came from and to whom they are going.

    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @02:13PM (#48327049)

      Does ANYONE think that this would be happening if the gov agencies didn't think they could get something from it ?

      You mean like make money (it will be profitable) and aiding their citizens (cheaper goods) and keep money in Australia (better Australian economy) and lowering the cost of trade with Australia (general trade = good arguments here)? Because, yeah, I mean, I do think the government does things for any one of those purposes.

      Or do you mean nutter "if it weren't for this, how would customs officials have the right to open packages coming into the country on clearly marked USPS/UPS/FedEx shipments?"

      On a personal note, this is great. Overseas shipping is such a complex beast my company was not planning on shipping to Australia (at least until we grew larger). Saying to Australians, "you can purchase our product through a ShipMate account" will help my company with more sales, and Australians who want to buy our product.

      • by redback ( 15527 )

        if you dont mind at least $30 being added to the cost, which is the minimum shipping fee from shipmate

        • Which at least a known cost.

          Yeah it's a lot, almost doubling the unit cost. But, if we ship a dozen together...

        • As an example: Magic the gathering cards. US site: http://sales.starcitygames.com... [starcitygames.com] AU site:http://shop.goodgames.com.au/trading-card-games/magic-the-gathering/boosters-and-boxes/magic-2014-core-set-booster-box.html So with a $65 difference I'll happily take that $30 shipping hit. Note: Good games is one of the biggest games store franchise in the country and their prices are about the lowest you'll get.
    • It would allow the Australian NSA access without violating those pesky laws they're supposed to follow...

      Australian Security Intelligence Organisation [wikipedia.org] or ASIO.

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @01:43PM (#48326747)
    After reading the links it's still not clear to me why this is occurring. Is it that sellers charge Australians more just because they can, and if so, are they not able to get away with it elsewhere? Do even huge online retailers like Amazon charge different prices depending on the country the items are going to? I'd have thought the US Federal Trade Commission would be scrutinizing these practices.
    • Lots of places won't ship to non-US* addresses. Whether they just can't be bothered with the extra hassle, or have agreements with their suppliers not to (for example: http://www.coolstuffinc.com/p/... [coolstuffinc.com]), or just don't like foreigners is really none of the customers concern - the business is allowed to choose what sort of shipping it will offer.

      * Often with Canada as an exception.

      • Yep the 2 biggest groups, by sales, here are

        (1) US ebay sellers.
        (2) Amazon, who ship books but not their complete inventory OS.

        Now they can just deliver to a regular US address.

        Personally I'd look forward to all those special offers, e.g. when HTC were recently having a one-day US-only sale on their new Android tablets.

    • Do even huge online retailers like Amazon charge different prices depending on the country the items are going to?

      Of course they do, and we've known about it for years. The Canadian government started an investigation into the issue last year. Even cars manufactured in Canada are cheaper to buy in the U.S. than in Canada.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Photoshop, MS Office etc., are 40% more expensive in Australasia. It comes from historical justifications because they needed to put products on board to get them there, not as many customers as the US, etc, and they're trying to maintain the markup premiums despite digital delivery. If you come from an Australasian IP then you'll pay a premium

    • Re:I'm not clear (Score:5, Informative)

      by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@nOSpam.worf.net> on Thursday November 06, 2014 @04:20PM (#48328001)

      After reading the links it's still not clear to me why this is occurring. Is it that sellers charge Australians more just because they can, and if so, are they not able to get away with it elsewhere? Do even huge online retailers like Amazon charge different prices depending on the country the items are going to? I'd have thought the US Federal Trade Commission would be scrutinizing these practices.

      For a variety of reasons.

      The most obvious ones are Australian distributors with exclusivity deals - for some products like Adobe and Microsoft software, this is the primary reason why it costs more.

      Others include legal requirements - taxes, duties, support, warranties and other things, some of which only apply in Australia. So an Australian using this service might lose out on that or may find they need to ship the product back to the US because the Australian depot refuses to service it for not being purchased in Australia. Or maybe Australia forces a product to be warrantied for 2 years or more, while the US version is 90 days to a year, and stuff like that usually gets factored into the price. So some Australians might get confused when the product they buy only has a 1 year warranty because it was purchased through this service rather than through the Australian distributor (where it has 2 years). Apple products come to mind for this - if you buy it in Europe, you get the 2-3 years EU law provides (and pay for it), whereas if you bought it in the US, you get standard 1 year.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        After reading the links it's still not clear to me why this is occurring. Is it that sellers charge Australians more just because they can, and if so, are they not able to get away with it elsewhere? Do even huge online retailers like Amazon charge different prices depending on the country the items are going to? I'd have thought the US Federal Trade Commission would be scrutinizing these practices.

        For a variety of reasons.

        The most obvious ones are Australian distributors with exclusivity deals - for some products like Adobe and Microsoft software, this is the primary reason why it costs more.

        Others include legal requirements - taxes, duties, support, warranties and other things, some of which only apply in Australia. So an Australian using this service might lose out on that or may find they need to ship the product back to the US because the Australian depot refuses to service it for not being purchased in Australia. Or maybe Australia forces a product to be warrantied for 2 years or more, while the US version is 90 days to a year, and stuff like that usually gets factored into the price. So some Australians might get confused when the product they buy only has a 1 year warranty because it was purchased through this service rather than through the Australian distributor (where it has 2 years). Apple products come to mind for this - if you buy it in Europe, you get the 2-3 years EU law provides (and pay for it), whereas if you bought it in the US, you get standard 1 year.

        Taxes are low in Australia, so you automatically lose that argument.

        But the same products are cheaper in the UK and EU that have more strenuous requirements for warranties and support, so you lose that argument too.

        You need to admit that things cost more because someone is profiteering. It literally costs less to fly to the US, buy an adobe product and fly back to Australia than to buy it here and there is not additional warranty provided on software. Software is pretty much sold "as is" in Australia

    • In Australia, however, "Country Pricing" has gone "full retard"
      https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

    • by redback ( 15527 )

      a lot of things wont ship to australia at all.

    • Pricing across continents always gets tricky. The basic problem is that it's really far from where you built all your distribution centers, because it's an island in the middle of the fucking ocean, so shipping is hell. Hawaii is one of the most expensive states to live in mostly because of shipping, and it's closer to a Cali-based warehouse then Adelaide is.

      Foreign currency fluctuations are also a huge pain in the ass. In my lifetime, for example, a Canadian dollar has bought between $0.65US and $1.05US. T

    • by afgam28 ( 48611 )

      Yep, sellers charge Australians more literally "just because they can". They sometimes make up excuses like shipping or localization, and sometimes buyers even believe them! But the reality is that Australians are willing to pay more than Americans for the same thing, so sellers take advantage of this.

      A similar situation of price discrimination exists for university textbooks. US edition textbooks can cost about double the price of the "international edition" of the exact same book. This is because American

  • //However, this service, called "Shopmate", comes at a cost.//

    It's made from Australian-Americans.

  • This isn't new (Score:3, Informative)

    by dmbrun ( 907271 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @02:24PM (#48327153)
    New Zealand has a similar service. It's been running for a couple of years or so.

    It is called Youshop https://www.nzpost.co.nz/tools... [nzpost.co.nz]

    The USA warehouse opens the parcel and repackages it if they can. This saves volume and for Amazon packages this might be a 50% volume saving. All of the packages are then bundled together and shipped to New Zealand for final distribution.

    For the user there may or not be a mail cost saving. You pay for shipping to a US address and then for shipping from there to Australia. The service is extremely useful where the seller won't ship to a foreign address but will ship to a US one.
  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @03:17PM (#48327567)

    document.getElementsByTagName("body")[0].style.transform = "rotate(180deg)";

    There, that's better.

  • With the Republicans scoring big in the election, the US dollar hit a high (apparently because they're pro business) against the Aussie dollar, which is now the lowest it's been for 4 years after a gradual slide over the last few months.

    This would have been fantastic 2 years ago but now we're just facing the original Australia tax - a poor exchange rate. Might still be a few things that you can get a good deal on though.

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday November 06, 2014 @04:22PM (#48328015)

    1.Its expensive (more expensive than existing mail forwarding services)
    and 2.If people actually start using it, online retailers will refuse to ship to it (just like many online retailers will refuse to ship to existing mail forwarding services, citing fraud, dodgy credit cards and drop-ship scams)

    • by dmbrun ( 907271 )
      1. It can be more expensive. You have to do the sums and work out which is cheaper.

      2. New Zealand's Post Office has been doing it for a couple of years with no problems.
      • by jonwil ( 467024 )

        Bet you cant use the NZ Post drop-ship option to get US pricing at the online LEGO store (to name one example of a business who is going all out in blocking drop-shipping)

  • 1. The extra taxes associated are because we have a mandatory 3 year warranty on any electronic goods, and 1 to 2 year mandatory warranty on any other goods and because Any good an Australian buys they have the right to return for a full refund within 60 days at the place of purchases expense

    3. If any US business charges Australian tax on us goods they have a legal obligation to give it to the Australian Tax Office or they face tax fraud

    4. The goods if over priced are due to the U.S. supplier mainly, import

  • The US market is big enough that a lot of US businesses simply don't bother offering to ship anywhere else. The potential of having to deal with foreign customers/regulations is often not worth it, regardless of how simple the procedures are.
  • I've made a lot of international purchases from Australia without ever using using a forwarding service to hide my location. There are a lot of retailers in the US that are happy to ship to Australia and that can mean it arrives here 3-4 days after the order is placed. Ordering from retailers in Europe and throughout Asia is often possible. US retailers have a right to set their policies and very little of what I buy is actually made in the US anyway so there are generally other options when US retailers

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