Are you sick of paying up to 400 per cent more for your technology?
Australian consumers are being ripped off by greedy US companies that deliberately charge hefty mark-ups for their products and refuse to ship the cheaper products Down Under — a problem that Australia Post’s new service ShopMate and others are trying to fix.
CHOICE spokesperson Tom Godfrey told The New Daily it welcomes new challengers to these “corporate geo-blocks” because Australia is the “unlucky country” when it comes to online shopping.
“The fact that Australia Post can set up a service like this to help people avoid geo-blocking is testament to how broken online shopping is in Australia,” he said.
ShopMate is a freight forwarding service that allows Australians to ship their American purchases to a US warehouse and then back home. Its competitive advantage is a “trusted” and “more reliable” parcel delivery network, an Australia Post spokesperson told The New Daily.
ShopMate is certainly not the first Aussie effort to take on US price discrimination, may not be the cheapest, and offers a slightly different service to some of its rivals.
Matesfreight, one of its US-based competitors, was founded last year by Australian expat Ben Raphael and his wife Deena, and ships to Australia as well as 19 other countries.
Mr Raphael isn’t worried about the new competition because of the free publicity that comes with it.
“We are happy to have Australia Post help us raise awareness about parcel forwarding services. We’ve found many Aussie consumers are not familiar with package forwarders yet they are keen to stop paying the ‘Aussie Tax’,” he said.
Matesfreight is similar to ShopMate, in that both have addresses in the sales tax-free state of Oregon where Australians can send their cheaper goodies. The difference is that Matesfreight can also buy the products on your behalf, in-store or online.
Price USA, based in Sydney, also offers this purchasing service, which is useful for those whose credit cards don’t work on US websites.
Carolina Tillett, founder of Price USA, said many big-name companies like Nike refuse to ship to known package forwarders because of local licensing agreements, but will ship to her local buying agents, who also operate in tax-free Oregon.
“As soon as they find out [the order is] going to a mail forwarding address they cancel the order, so that’s another reason why people want to use us,” Ms Tillett said.
Recent customers of Price USA have saved the following (after paying fees):
• 50 per cent on customised Nike shoes;
• 50 per cent on MAC Cosmetics;
• 34 per cent on perfumes;
• 30 per cent on Ralph Lauren clothing;
• 20 per cent on ASIC shoes.
Fees between competitors vary widely depending on which service you need.
ShopMate charges a fixed price of $24.95 per 500 gram parcel plus an additional $5.95 for every extra 500 grams.
As a comparison, Matesfreight charges five per cent of the cost of the item, instead of a fixed price (with a minimum fee that varies depending on which shipping service is cheapest). It charges an extra $3 to make online purchases on your behalf, and a minimum of $35 for in-store pickups.
Price USA charges delivery insurance, shipping costs, handling and return insurance (plus optional extras).