Have you noticed that tech products often seem to be more expensive in the UK than, say, the US? Our chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith says Brits are still unnecessarily paying over the odds for some goods.
Sometimes, it rather feels like there’s a large sign above the UK saying ‘Ripe for rip-off’.
It’s 10 years since Which? first challenged Apple to justify why it charged UK consumers 20% more than those in France and Germany to download the same digital music track on iTunes. Eventually, Apple agreed to cut the UK price.
In the 1990s, Which? launched the ‘Great British Car Rip-off’ campaign, exposing the astonishingly high prices of new cars in the UK compared with the rest of Europe. Eventually, prices fell to be more in line.
The Great British rip-off
While UK consumers have benefited in some ways from a European Single Market, where there’s greater access to products sold elsewhere in the EU, we’re still paying over the odds for some goods, particularly many imported from outside the EU.
Our latest investigation, ‘The Great British rip-off’, shows that – taking tax out of the equation – a MacBook Pro laptop costs £194 more in the UK than it does in the US. Apple is far from alone. While companies selling their physical products, such as laptops, can point to higher operating costs in the UK (which is only a partial justification in the view of our supply chain expert), sellers of digital-only products, such as software, have no such justification. So why does certain software cost hundreds of pounds more in the UK than it does in the US?
While Which? is pressing manufacturers to play fairer, we’re also pushing the Government to boost e-commerce by dropping import charges for any goods with a value of less than £390. Not all products are subject to these fees (laptops aren’t but clothes and TVs are, for example). Longer term, we’re supporting an ambitious free trade agreement between the EU and US, which could cut all import duties on products from the US.
Are UK consumers ripped off on tech products compared to US consumers?
Yes (96%, 1,889 Votes)
Don't know (4%, 75 Votes)
No (1%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,975