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Microsoft gouges Australia lightly on Surface

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Australian punters frustrated by the fact they pay more than their North American brethren for Apple gadgets, despite the Australian Dollar currently buying more than one US Dollar, can now get just a little bit mad with Microsoft too, after the company today announced prices for its Surface tablets that exceed US prices.

Redmond issued a press release at 2:32 AM Sydney time announcing a “limited-quantity pre-order” of the tablets for Australians.

We’ve taken the prices in that release, compared them to the prices charged to customers in the USA (as we reported here), then used xe.com and its exchange rate at the time of writing of AUD$1=US$1.02881 to convert the US price.

Because the Australian price includes the 10 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST), we’ve then added an extra ten per cent to the converted price to take into account the fact that US States impose their own sales taxes. Those taxes seldom hit ten per cent, but it’s as good a figure as any for the purposes of this exercise so we stuck with it.

Here are the results:

Product US$ Price AUD$ price Price in Australian dollars at today’s exchange rate Price in Australian dollars if 10% sales tax added Australian markup
32GB Surface, no touch cover $499 $559 $485.02 $533.52 $25.48
32 GB Surface, with touch cover $599 $679 $582.22 $640.44 $38.56
64GB with touch cover $699 $789 $679.43 $747.37 $41.63
Colour touch cover $119.99 $139.99 $116.58 $128.24 $11.75
Black touch cover with moving keys $129.99 $149.99 $126.29 $138.92 $11.07

The price increases are nastiest for the 32GB and 64GB surface models with cover, but even then are only a handful of per cent higher than US retail prices. In US states where sales tax is lower, that will blow out a bit.

Many companies complain that Australia is a costly place to do business. Tech companies also complain that Australia is a long way from their European or US bases, which means shipping costs are higher. That argument is almost certainly a furphy, as only an incompetent logistics operation would be incapable of sending one container-load of Surfaces from their (presumably) Chinese source to Australia and another to the USA, instead of insisting the tablets cross the Pacific twice.

At the time of writing it was still possible for Australians to order a Surface, here.

Microsoft has told El Reg "Pricing varies between markets based on factors such as local laws, taxes, such as the GST in Australia, and regulations. We're yet to learn which laws, taxes or regulations account for the premium Australians will pay for a Surface.

The price global electronics manufacturers charge Australian consumers is the subject of a Parliamentary inquiry, as Australian prices are frequently higher than those charged in other nations. ®

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