Let’s face it, Gerry Harvey has a point


opinion Right now the internet is ass-ploding with what might be politely called “dissent” regarding the claims being made by major Australian retailers that there is an uneven playing field in terms of selling goods online.

In short, a bunch of middle-class Australians with disposable income to spend on expensive consumer electronics gadgets and books have entered into full whinge mode at the prospect that they might have to pay an extra 10 percent GST to import cheap goods from international web sites like Amazon.

It’s less “dissent’ than it is middle Australia dissing Gerry Harvey for being rich enough to hire ad agencies to point out how many fat stacks he has and how they should contribute more margin to his retirement fund courtesy of his “Hardly Normal” prices.

Now the first thing that strikes me about the fiery debate going on right now is how completely irrelevant it is, given how obscenely rich and fortunate Australians in general already are. Over the Christmas period, my personal household gained no less than three new electrical appliances — a dishwasher, a crockpot and a new toastie maker. And none of those broke the bank in the slightest, despite the fact that the cost we paid to buy them probably paid the wages of dozens of Indian or Chinese workers for months, and that we are currently getting a startup off the ground.

(Wait, I still have a HECS debt — but that doesn’t really count, does it?)

Let’s get some perspective, Australia. Most of the people furiously complaining about the retailers’ GST crusade are the sort who (just like me) have enough time and money to sit on the internet all day at work or home browsing online sites for random bargains and complaining about just these sorts of issues. To be honest, we wouldn’t notice an extra 10 percent surcharge on our international purchases if it jumped up and bit us in the face.

And frankly, given the amount of money I’ve been saving on books over the past decade by buying secondhand copies of fantasy epics for 58c from Amazon, perhaps it’s about time I stated paying “full price”. Would that make it 58c + 5.8c? Crazy. How would I live with that?

But more importantly, what appears to have been lost in this GST debate so far, is that local business bosses like Gerry Harvey have a clear and certain point when they claim that it’s “a shocker” that international retailers selling online to Australians get “manna from heaven” in the form of GST exemptions for goods worth less than $1,000.

As Harvey points out, retailers like Harvey Norman are selling the same consumer electronics products as major sites like Amazon. Book companies like Borders and Angus & Robertson are selling the same books as UK discounting giant The Book Depository.

It’s the same product, sold to the same customer. But if it’s sold by an “Australian” company in “Australia” — whatever that means in terms of the Australian Taxation Office’s complex regulations (and they are complex, trust me — I’m a small business owner) — that Australian company must charge the customer 10 percent GST and then pass it on to the ATO.

That would appear to be the definition of what Mr Gerry Harvey has called “an uneven playing field”. Some retailers are forced to charge customers an extra 10 percent. Some are not. So which way do you think customers will jump, all else being equal?

Follow me so far? If not, feel free to hop off this rant-train at this point and head down to the comments field, where no doubt you will accuse me of idiocy and not understanding one of the following three items:

  1. The intricacies of Australia’s tax situation (you’re right, I don’t. But you don’t either.)
  2. The complexity of the online medium (you’re right, it’s incredibly complex — and as we established in point A, I am stupid)
  3. The fact that Delimiter takes advertising from Australian technology companies and therefore everything we write must somehow be “bias” in nature (do you like my hat? It’s made of money!! Oh, wait. We need to eat too; sadly, journalists cannot survive on PR agency Christmas hampers alone)

For the sensible readers, this is the portion of the rant where I consider both sides.

Frankly, the simple fact of this uneven playing field is being lost due to the idiocy of Australia’s traditional retailers in linking their ability to offer online services to the GST shenanigans.

A polite way of describing the websites of retailers like Harvey Norman for the past decade might be “undeveloped”. A less polite way might be that they have traditionally been excremental piles of donkey turd which actively aim to prevent you from buying goods online, so that they can maintain their odious monopolies on selling goods to Australians at hilariously overinflated prices.

For retailers like ‘Hardly Normal’, David Jones, Angus & Robertson and even Target to claim that they agree that “online retailing is a wonderful convenience” which is here to stay is pathetically disengenuous. For a decade now most major Australian retailers have desperately fought against the encroachment of the internet on their overweight storefronts populated with pimply, hungover, minimum wage teenage check-out clerks, who desperately leer at every girl who walks by. I should know — a decade ago I was one of them at Big W.

And why not?

The fact that the these megaliths of corporate ineptness have just now realised, ten years after the GST was introduced, that it might have the potential to create an uneven playing ground online is a testament to how slow-moving they truly are.

It also might, just might, be a testament to the fact that that in 2010, 15 years after eBay was founded (and, arguably, 5 years after eBay jumped the shark), globalised online retailing is finally starting to hit their bottom line in a meaningful way.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s revert to our original article so that the trolls can have a reason to slam us in the comments.

The fact that Australia’s traditional retailers have not adapted well to the internet does not mean that an uneven playing field does not exist. Their arrogance and hubris notwithstanding, it remains true that the uneven playing field described by Gerry Harvey is a reality — and it does not only apply to major retailers.

It also applies to innovative pure-play online Australian companies like AusPCMarket, RedBubble, Kogan Technologies and more. These aren’t the companies complaining in public to the Federal Government about the issue — in fact, Ruslan Kogan is taking Harvey to town on the issue, as is his habit — but an uneven playing field necessarily affects them as well.

So what should be done about all this?

To be honest, it’s hard to say, although I agree with Electronic Frontiers Australia that more thought is needed on this issue. And by “thought”, I don’t mean Gerry Harvey debating Bill Shorten on 2UE, although I “think” that would be a fascinating exercise in man love between a pot and a kettle, neither of which realise that they’re on the same unholy side.

I mean, clearly, it would be next to impossible for the ATO to force multinational retailers to send it 10 percent every time an Australian ordered a product online. But also, it doesn’t seem reasonable to dump the GST for Australian retailers selling online. I suspect the problem here is that the GST was created for an economy fundamentally based on bricks and mortar — and does not easily suit the internet age.

But in the meantime, let’s not simply tell Gerry Harvey to STFU because he has a dud website and is a rich old fat cat billionaire having a whinge in public. He didn’t get to where he is by being ignorant — unlike most of his customers.

Image credit: T. Rolf, royalty free


  1. For me, the biggest issue is the rough parity that currently exists between the AUD and the USD. It makes it very easy to compare prices between Australia and the US.

    Online prices in the US are SIGNIFICANTLY lower than Australian retail prices. Take the GST off the Australian prices, and they are still much higher than the US prices. This is not an issue of whether there should or should not be GST applied to these online purchases.

    The retailers absolutely have the right to make a profit – (otherwise, why do it?) — they just need to become more price realistic against REAL competition. Sure, bang the GST on the online imports, and the locals will still be getting smashed on price.

    It’s like the record and movie industries complaining about piracy. They charge $35 for a new release DVD, that ends up in the bargain bin for $10 after about 12 months.

    If they charged $10 right from the start, they’d probably sell five times as many copies, because people won’t need to blow their download quotas getting it on BitTorrent and copping excess download charges from their ISP – with $10 for a GENUINE copy becomes more viable.

    Sharpen your crayons Gerry. Your old model no longer works.

  2. If Harvey Norman’s or Angas and Robertson’s prices were within 10% of their online competitors, Harvey would have a point. But if they were that close, would people really bother to shop online?

    When Dick Smith sells components for $30 that I can get on eBay for under $5 (eg micro-USB cables and RCA cable switchers) it isn’t GST that’s the problem. Add 10% to those prices, or to Bookdepository’s prices, and I’m still going to shop there.

    I’ve seen it suggested this morning that one reason for the $1000 GST-free threshold is that the cost of collecting GST on such small purchases would outweigh the revenue gained. I’d be interested to know if there’s anything to that.

    • I’ve noticed that the price of audio/usb/etc cables have gone up allot at Dick Smith, it also appears to be happening at Jay Car as well and I don’t see why.

      They also appear to be in fancy packaging compared to what they used to be in.

    • Indeed David.

      You mention your Amazon book. How much do you think it would cost a Government bureaucracy to collect that 5.8c from you? What about waiting a week for a letter from Customs to come after your book arrives in country directing you to make that 6c payment? Then a few more days while payment clears and they release your item.

      Two weeks or so later than it otherwise would your book arrives, and I bet it’s cost the Government a lot more than 5.8c during the process.

      I can see the ACA stories now, with people whose Christmas/Birthday/Whatever was ruined because of delays, holding up a bill from Customs for 15 cents.

  3. I don’t think it will be up to the overseas retailer to whack on the 10% GST. I think it’ll fall to customs to send you a bill or hold your items until you pay the GST, isn’t this how it currently works? (i’ve never bought over $1000 worth of stuff from overseas)

    The other issue is companies like Harvey Norman, Dick Smiths, Borders etc allot of there products are inflated in price compared to smaller Australian brick and mortar and online shops.

    You can goto Dick Smiths online store, pay $248 for a Logitech g19 keyboard or go online to umart and pay $143

    Borders has an interesting model. You can buy from there online Australian store and get books cheaper than there brick and mortar store. There reasoning is it costs more to run the store than the online shop.

    I’ve been looking at buying the Torchwood series. JB HiFi has each season for around $110. I can go online to Amazon and buy each season for $50 USD or goto ebay and get a DVD Box Set (complete series) from the UK for $70 (free postage)

    When you see things like that it really makes you wonder wtf is going on.

  4. I agree it’s unfair. It’s completely unfair. The point is: I don’t care.

    My problem is when I can buy a DVD or video game or whatever for up to 60% less from an online, overseas retailer (including shipping!), why are the retailers complaining about a 10% GST?

    On the front page of Zavvi.com right now, I can buy “Heros”, Seasons 1-4 for £48.95. That’s around $80, with delivery. On sanity.com.au (the first Aussie retailer I checked), the same thing is $135. That’s a 40% discount on Zavvi.com. If the laws were changed tomorrow and I had to pay GST on the Zavvi item, then it would be $88, still a 35% discount. What’s the point of complaining about that? It’s not going to change the fact that I’ll still buy from Zavvi.com.

  5. I agree with the comments above. The problem is much more than a simple 10% saving.

    I just bought an Acer laptop $400 cheaper from Amazon than I could get the exact same model from any store in Australia.

  6. Get within 20% of product price + delivery from an OS website Gerry and I might say you have a case. Until then, cut your margins and remove the need for people to shop online to get a better price.

    • gerry harvey doesnt even employ anyone in the retail sector. his business model is run as a franchise designed to significantly reduce his tax liability, and that of his franchisees.

      so go screw yourself gerry, you’ve been doing the same thing to australians for years !

  7. They’re not always exactly “the same product, sold to the same customer.” Every electronic device sold in Australia has a statutory 12 month warranty, and if you buy from a bricks and mortar store then you even have somewhere to take it back. Online, you may or may not get a warranty at all and you may have to mail the product back overseas in order to claim it.

    It might not seem directly relevant, but speaking for myself if an electronic product was $990 inc. GST at Harvey Norman and $900 sans GST on ebay UK then I’d consider the warranty before making my decision. As other people are pointing out, though, this hypothetical product is probably $500 on ebay UK. At which point you can still buy a second one from the UK, and end up ahead. Even $500+$50 GST isn’t going to change that.

    To actually improve retail in Australia, I would love to see Australian consumers and retailers alike putting more pressure on international manufacturers not to provide exclusive distribution deals to individual Australian importer/distributors, thereby removing a choke point that pushes up the wholesale price of certain brands for all Australian retailers.

    • I wouldn’t buy anything like that from overseas just because of the hassle of getting it returned. But smaller things like electronics under $200 or other things can easily be bought/rebought etc if broken.

      Only thing of high value I bought from overseas was a laptop, from Malaysia. My wifes family lives there so it makes returning the product allot easier (at the time it also saved me $500 and made it under $1000 in price)

      • Agreed. Besides, if it was only a 10-20% difference in price, then I’d say the retailers have a point. But when the price difference is closer to 40-60% then the argument simply doesn’t add up.

        To the retailers: get your prices within 10-20% of overseas retailers, and we can talk. ‘Til then, hand me my browser, I’ve got some shopping to do…

  8. As I see it there are two issues; 1. Gerry Harvey, et al. crying foul and 2. The enforcability (or lack thereof) of a GST on overseas purchases.

    After discussing this with a customs official, unofficially, the other day, she made a couple of very valid points.

    * There is no way overseas retailers can be forced to charge/collect GST for online purchases from Australia.

    * Visa/MasterCard/Paypal could be forced to “collect” GST on any purchase charged to a card where that retailer is outside Australia. Yes, this would take a legislative change, but it’s not beyond reality.

    * Customs open each and every overseas parcel, regardless of value, and charge you the GST on the Australian retail value of the goods, not the declared Customs Value. If the goods are not available in Australia, they will “guesstimate” the true retail value OR demand you show the Visa/MasterCard/Paypal receipt for the payment. Obviously this means more jobs, and more delay for overseas goods.

    * The “gift” category, used mainly as a way of circumventing duties, will either be abolished or you’ll pay duty on the goods until some proof of the gift status is received (how this would work they would not say), and then there will be a refund.

    It is something that *is* in the pipeline at the moment, although which way they will go has yet to be seen.

    • “* Visa/MasterCard/Paypal could be forced to “collect” GST on any purchase charged to a card where that retailer is outside Australia. Yes, this would take a legislative change, but it’s not beyond reality.”

      This would be interesting on Digital purchases….

      All the iPhone/Android/Steam games…all the online music purchased as well……

        • Oh, I agree – a massively wide net, with many pitfalls and hurdles to overcome – but NOT IMPOSSIBLE.

          It would be interesting to see the reaction from those companies to any suggestion that this was in the pipeline… and how much damage it would do to our overseas trading reputation.

  9. Pfft – Conroy’s carbon neutral portal filter will automatically add GST to all online transactions! Chalk another win up to the Conroynator!

    Upper lower middle class Australia.

  10. I work for a company that sells Power Tools among other things. The main issue causing price discrepancies between our stores and buying from the US is that the manufacturers sell the products to the US cheaper than they sell to Australia because of turnover.

    As others have said, adding 10% to online sales is going to make bugger all difference when the discrepancy in wholesale price can be 30-50%.

    Like our company, Gerry needs to start lobbying the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony to get comparable wholesale pricing to the US. Good luck with that by the way. Australia is about 2% of the global market.

    So in short. While Gerry Harvey is correct that it’s not a level playing field he is deluding himself if he thinks charging GST on OS purchases under $1000 will make any difference at all!

  11. I would love to comment on the GST side of things, but I am restricted as I am not authorised by the ATO to speak on tax matters.

    On Mail order, I can comment on overseas retail.

    I have peviously talked about the price premium on Aussie Tech. Now that the dollar is at parity, there is less argument for the Aussie Price Tax than before. For the Galaxy Tab from Samsung, there is no excuse for a $200 premium compared with US prices. At most $100 more could be justified with shipping and compliance costs.

    The Aussie compliance costs are high. Such hidden costs as higher wages, OH&S and Superanuation, laxes and charges that are different from the US (however, there is a sticker shock with US prices, as US sales taxes are added post sale, unlike Aussie prices where tax is inclusive)

    However, I have bought minatures from the UK. With free postage (a program paid for by the UK government to encourage exports), a strong dollar, I can save conciderably on the cost of the same wargame minatures if bought locally. Even if I do pay postage, many companies will give a 7% discount for overseas sales, as they use a flat 10% shipping and refund the VAT (at the time I last bought there, it was 17%. It has since gone up).

    Overseas Imports generally do not attract VAT or GST at the point of sale. As mentioned above, GST would be collected by Customs at point of entry. There is a $1000 threshold and many tech items do not attract duty, so most small scale sales enter the country tax free.

    Things will get sillier as many of the major markets are printing money hand over fist (it is not PAPER money, so you wont get the Zimbabwe and Weimar Republic hyperinflation banknotes), but as more US currency becomes available, the demand (and hence the price) of the $US drops. The $A is stronger due to our high intrest rates, our gold reserves and active export market makes demand for the doller stronger.

    The major issue regarding Tax Theory here is that revenue that would normally go to consolidated revenue is now going into the tax base of other countries. This has always been happening and will continue to do so, as Australia has a weak manufacturing base and strong service economy, which makes imports a constant strain on the ballance of payments and consolidated revenue (via Value Added Taxes like GST)

    What is happening is that many barriers that used to excist in retail (transport costs, tarrifs, ability to reach a market) no longer excist or have become cheap and efficiant. With Internet providing almost cost free retail and advertising, and a wider market no longer barred by distance, and a efficiant transport system, the barriers between Aussie Consumers and US/UK retailers have never been lower./

    Does it affect Aussie retailers.? Yes.

    Can they survive? Yes

    To survive, the Aussie retailers need to provide a value added service. Retailers will need to addopt the hardware store methodoly, providing such things as demostrations, classes and advice. If you cant compete in price, compete in service (as someone mentioned above, warenties is a good start).

    • Darryl, volume speaks volumes in wholesaling any goods, and typically far outstrips GST inputs.
      What sort of discount would you expect if you went to Harvey Norman and asked for a price for ten 50 inch plasmas? 30% maybe off their book price? Would you be happy if someone else then went into the same store and got the same price as you even though they only bought a single set?
      It’s the same in the wholesale world, why would a little market like Australia attract the same wholesale discounts as retailers in a market like the US, which is in excess of an order of magnitude larger?

      • The problem here, if I was buying 10 flat screen TV, why would I go to Harvey Norman?

        I would get a better deal talking to the wholesaler and/or manufactorer. Harvey Norman is not in the busienss to selling bulk, as the margin is not there.

        • No no…they buy in bulk from the manufacturers/distributors.

          Uncle Gerry should be able to get a good price when he buys 2000 TV’s from Samsung

          He then passes the “saving” onto consumers. *coughBULLSHITcough*

          This is where people have ZERO sympathy for he – (and his fellow whiners) – about the online business. People have found a better model.

          He needs to fix his.

          • Unfortunately he can’t get the same price as Walmart that would buy 20000 at a time. I think Gerry knows that there are many other issues that cause an “unlevel playing field” like comparatively high wages, rents, transport costs, energy costs etc but GST is something that could actually change.

            I think he’s wasting his time on this whole online GST crap, and it will likely he do him more harm than good but you can’t blame him for trying.

          • Sure – but he should be bitching to Samsung about it, or getting together with other retailers in Australia and making combined orders.

            Ten big retailers in Australia buying 2000 televisions each makes 20000.

            There is always a way. Bitching about someone with a better business model is not one of them.

        • If you want good pricing and you have a friend in the building industry, then Harvey Norman Commercial is the way to go. Strips off all the bullshit commissions etc and you get a wider range. Delivers to your home, same warranty arrangements.

  12. Gerry Harvey and the rich kids love the free-market … but only when it suits them.
    The retailers crying over this all suck.
    They regularly charge 250% what an item costs in Haymarket (Capitol Centre) or at msy.com.au

    If it is such a hardship for them then let them fail.

    They should not be able to sway the media and government, as they have done here, on a selfish whim.

  13. Another great piece Renai, I (almost) always find your writing entertaining, modern and relevant.

    With that said though I must argue/question on one of your points, particularly “But also, it doesn’t seem reasonable to dump the GST for Australian retailers selling online”…… My question is, why not?

    The US has had tax exemptions in place for online retailers now for many years to spurn the growth of online retailers, and to be frank it wouldn’t be that difficult here from a tax perspective to get it up and running and could (would!) provide enormous benefits to both consumers and the online retail market here in Australia.

    Yes, there would be a disruption in the initial period, however it would spur a lot of smaller players to start building an online presence, and give the majors an opportunity to provide a ‘cheaper’ alternative while still offering a full service model (a-la Qantas/Jetstar).

    US sites that do a lot of business to Australia would be forced to react (admittedly though the only real area where they could/should sharpen their pencils is in delivery, though i’m sure that could be done for many companies based on what i’ve seen some of them charge in that space!)

    Back to the US/AU comparison, clicks-and-mortar, online-only and bricks-and-mortar can and will continue to co-exist for a long time to come ….. shopping centres are social gathering places as much as wallet-emptying empires and will continue to hold a place as there will always be a need to touch-and-feel and that comes at a price that many customers will always be prepared to accept.

    For those that want to buy ‘online’ from an AU retailer (remember there are many that don’t like purchasing from overseas, irrespective of price, be that for ‘security’, ‘buy in oz’ or any other number of concerns), the playing field will be leveled and hopefully we will create a new, vibrant online marketplace which has been for the most part sadly lacking in this country.

    Alas, I leave my jumbled comments at this point.


  14. I’ll put it very simply for ol’ Gerry.

    If I can get something shipped from half way around the world at a 50% discount, even including the GST, than what you can offer me at HN, then I’d say there’s a severe problem with your business model.

    Charge the GST, don’t charge the GST, won’t change where I do or don’t shop, even for a second. Not until Aussie retailers lift their game.

    Simple as that.

  15. Gerry Havery is simply barking up the wrong tree and so are you, Renai.

    It’s not the consumers fault for wanting to get the best price possible and looking overseas to achieve that. The amount of money I have saved in purchasing professional audio equipment from US online retailers has equated to almost 50% and we’re talking in the thousands of dollars here.

    Yes, Gerry does have a point. Australian retail is suffering. There is no denying that from any side of the argument. What he’s wrong about, though, is targeting the consumer rather than the manufacturers/wholesalers and even the government with its compliance costs. All those factors which contribute to the overinflated prices need to be addressed. Perhaps then, the consumer will be swayed to continue doing business in their own backyard instead of overseas. Perhaps then my $900 Beyerdynamic microphone kit will actually be $900 instead of $1700 from the cheapest Australian (online) retailer.

  16. This whole debate is absolutely ludicrous, I find it hard to believe it is happening:

    1. GST is an Australia tax on Australians, what does this have to with International purchases.

    2. We dont pay GST on international purchases just as people from other countries dont pay our GST when they purchase something from Australia. (as far as I know)

    3. Australian retailers have this coming, what about the fact they are taking advantage of the US/AUD converstion rate. Look at companies like Apple. On their Australian store an 8GB iPod Touch is $289, but on the US store it is $229. But wait? last time I check werent we at parity? We live in an online world now and retailers need to realise and adapt to that. Same goes for Harvey Norman.

    4. Gerry Harvey and other retailers should innovate instead of complaining and trying to add more taxes. How sad that we all leap to adding a tax instead of thinking about how we can innovate and make Australia a leader in the online space.

    5. This doesn’t help the retailers in the slighest, the ones they claim are being hurt by this. If you seriously think I would not make a purchase from Amazon just because I have to pay another 10% you are dead wrong. I recently ordered the same book from both Amazon (US) and Borders (in Australia) the book arrived from Amazon in 6 days, the book took 6 weeks to arrive from Borders. Both were ordered with the fastest shipping available. Complete fail!

    As far as I’m concerned, the ‘mum and pop’ stores will actually benefit by taking advantage of online retailing, its the huge retailers that will come off second best.

    All this just seems like a tarriff in disguse. This should be seen as a warning to advance Australia in online retailing, instead everyone wants to winge and impose tariffs…

    • From reading these comments, it appears people still dont get it. Perhaps they didn’t read the artical, or stopped half way..

      Fact: It is an uneven playing field – when some retailers are taxed GST and others are not.

      • no, i think you miss the fact that there is no such things as a level playing field, its is as mythical as the unicorn or the tooth fairy. gerry harvey and large retailers are aware of this, they have spent years unleveling the playing field against small to medium sized retailers. they get cheaper rents as anchor tenants, they get volume discounts in print, tv and radio advertisiing, they get volume discounts on overseas purchases. online trading is an opportunity for smaller to medium retailers to re level the playing field, and solly, bernie and gerry dont like that.

        this isnt about a level playing field, thats the last thing they want, its about owning the playing field.

  17. If Harvey Norman /Target had an online buisness that you could purchase from I would be there Just like I shop at Big W online all the time maybe they need to move with the times as al lthe young adults in there 20s don’t know what a world without the internet is.

  18. It’s been said a few times here already, but what the hey .. if the price differential between buying overseas and here in Aus was close to, or even just slightly more than, 10% then I’d pay the extra and buy here for peace of mind, warranty etc. However, as an example, the last camera I bought online from the US that cost me ~$1000 all up inc. postage was available here for ~$1400+.

    Perhaps Harvey and co should be putting their efforts into getting manufacturers to not only bring pricing down locally but also bring products out here in a timelier fashion (Panasonic I’m looking at you!), which is another factor in buying overseas IMHO.

    • ‘Perhaps Harvey and co should be putting their efforts into getting manufacturers to not only bring pricing down locally but also bring products out here in a timelier fashion (Panasonic I’m looking at you!), which is another factor in buying overseas IMHO.’

      This is exactly right. I’ll give you an example from the company I work for.
      A Hitachi 18V cordless drill that costs us $249 after rebates can be bought for $140-$180 in America because Hitachi Australia don’t sell the same volume as Hitachi America.

      Both Hitachi Aus and Hitachi USA are wholly owned subsidiaries of Hitachi Japan but Australia pays a higher price than America because of economies of scale.

  19. Australian retailers are absolutely out to lunch…

    Just look at Angus and Robertson. They are part of a cartel that has successfully managed to keep exclusive distribution agreements in place for books and electronic books for their own profit. Go to Amazon and watch how you can pay $12.00 for a paperback that costs $30.00 here in Australia. The reason is that the “local” wholesaler has exclusive rights to the title and gets a big fat cut. Their mode of competition is to lobby the government (successfully) to prevent overseas suppliers (ie Amazon) of even electronic versions from selling to Australians because of “rights issues”.

    Here’s an example:

    Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week

    eBook: $13.37
    Paperback: $29.95

    Kindle Book: $9.02
    Hardcover: $11.47

    You can strip out GST and add shipping to the Amazon hardcover book and the problem is clear – the price points of A&R (and Borders) are simply not good enough. Dymocks also charged $30 for the paperback and doesn’t even have the eBook.

    Gerry Harvey also said the internet was bullshit a few years back and completely ignored the idea of online retailing. He didn’t believe that people would want to buy white goods that way and he was wrong. Sucks to be him, bad bet. Now he’s complaining about the GST. I also think Gerry has a the sticky situation of his franchisees. Imagine if Harvey Norman “corporate” setup a website and started offering competitive pricing online in say computers. What would his “Computer Superstore” franchisees have to say about that? I doubt they’d be too happy and Gerry’s ass would end up in court before too long.

    David Jones until recently had a PDF website catalogue. Myers was no better.

    I say to them, go setup your businesses in China. Sell your goods online and import them in GST free. Obviously you’ll have to warehouse them overseas, not drop ship them from Australia. Here are the two outcomes you’ll get: one, you’ll erode your own margins because if I’m going to buy online, I’m going to shop around; and two, your stores will come under such pressure from cannibalizing your own business that you’ll have to close some of them which will result in lowering your brand identity and more competition in my first point. So good luck with that.

    People will always want to shop in a store for certain items. I can’t imagine buying my next washing machine online. I want to see it and touch it before parting with my money. However, books, music and movies – I want them all digital anyway, why charge me more so you can handle stock? This is just a bunch of retailers who’ve missed the boat on the internet complaining.

    • Sean makes many good points.

      I can speak specifically to the washing machine example – we bought ours online (from an Australian retailer, and therefore paid GST) late last year. Not only did they have an untouchable price, but the service was unbelievable. What service? In addition to delivering the big heavy thing, they un-installed the old one, and fitted and tested the new one, and then they took the old one away as well! Sure – they probably have a deal with a second hand shop, but the fact that I didn’t have to store it for a month then hump it out to the curb on council clean up day.

      I went and had a look at washing machines at Bing Lee. They had everything in stock. I spoke to the sales person and told them they were competing with online, but that I was prepared to pay a small premium for the ability to run a measuring tape over it and open the doors etc. At the end of the day, it was the value add of the online supplier with a more refined and service focussed fulfillment model that won the sale.


  20. I think the important thing you need to consider when buying o/seas is support and warranty. In our business we sell licenses to Carbonite. It’s exactly the same software as what is offered in the US, same servers. The one key difference is local support. If your PC breaks down and you have Carbonite and want assistance to get your data back you can call us. This is a free service. If you purchased directly from the US it would be cheaper but you get no phone support unless you pay extra for it.

    If you purchased from the US and came to us for support we would politely point you to the carbonite.com website and the support they offer. Our experience is that most customers (90%) are happy to pay the premium for this convenience.

    Over the past few years our pricing has gone up and down a couple of times based on currency movements but you can’t change your pricing every day or month. We try and keep our pricing consistent so you know what the price is. The $A hasn’t always been this good. Therefore there are periods where our pricing has meant we have subsidised losses and periods where the exchange rates have assisted us.

    • I’m sure nobody disputes that once all cost and value factors are weighed up that sometimes buying locally is wiser. If I were to spend 20% more on a product but with the full knowledge that I’d get free local support over having to spend perhaps another 30% on the phone support, paying as I go along, then it’s pretty obvious where I’m going to pay the premium.

      On the other hand, I could always take a financial risk and take the cheaper option thinking that I won’t need to spend more than 5% additional on phone support. It’s all about figuring out the value for money factor.

      In the case of my digital SLR and lenses, I’ve bought them from overseas knowing that there was a risk of sending the item back at a significant cost for warranty claims. Twice done and twice never needed to make a single warranty claim and all that while, saved about $600. That money goes a long way.

      There are pros and cons to buying locally as there are to buying overseas. The consumer will hopefully make an informed decision as to which one will get them the best value for money.

  21. This isn’t a class thing as insinuated in the above article. This is a globalisation thing, changing markets etc. Australian retailers stock virtually no Australian made anything, after being at the forefront of decimating local manufacturing in the 70s & 80s. NOW they complain Australian retail jobs are at stake and we need to buy locally. But buy what locally? Overseas products? Seriously?

    How about recognising the small electronics/book/DVD market has gone global, and re-embracing some local manufacturers- local innovation, bespoke craftsmanship etc? I can’t buy that from overseas. Amazon can’t be price competitive selling Australian goods back to Australians. Retailers could use their insanely large marketing budgets to create demand for interesting local products, instead of their usual loud and annoying lies about ‘sales’. They take up as much as 30% of all TV/radio advertising already – they think they’re great at marketing already… They might even find that they can become a net exporter to the 7 billion people who live in other countries who might like to buy Australian things from a savvy retailer with a proper attempt at e-tailing.

    If a retailer chooses to only stock products from the top 10 global manufacturers – sorry, your market is already gone. We’re all buying online. Rich or poor.

    Finally, the point is moot, because (as has already been pointed out extensively in the press) nothing is stopping an Australian retailer from shipping overseas goods from overseas locations and avoiding the GST for purchases under $1000 anyway. AND, of course, if they bothered to sell locally manufactured goods instead of trying to compete with the big UK and US companies, goods shipped from this country ship GST free. Umm… does that give us some kind of competitive advantage to export perhaps?

    • Do you know what the problem is with getting Australian manufacturers to actually manufacture their products in Australia? Australians. We don’t live on a meagre wage of a bowl of rice a day like the Chinese do. There was once Australian manufacturer who questioned why he should be pressured into manufacturing in his own backyard when he can save almost $3 million a year by having his product manufactured in China.

      And he was right. I have my printed circuit boards manufactured in Thailand because they cost me almost 20% of the cost to get them manufactured locally and the quality is exactly the same because it’s done to my specification. I only rely on my local supplier when I need something made within days rather than a couple weeks.

      So, forget trying to revitalise the local manufacturing industry. The only time that will happen is when the Asians and Mexicans get paid as much as we would and we all know how unlikely that is.

      Getting back to the original point, it’s a matter of applying firm pressure to both manufacturers and government (and their relevant agencies) to drive down their selling and standards testing/compliance prices. How easy that will be is another question altogether but it doesn’t absolve them of being the primary problem.

      • Yes, the wages effect for low-skill mass production is an issue. But it isn’t an issue for art, quality, bespoke items. We have high disposable incomes in Australia. If demand existed for more expensive local items, we have the money to pay for it. There are structural reasons why Australia won’t be competitive producing electronics locally, wages included. So I wouldn’t be trying to compete in that field, unless I was aiming at a niche market.

        Bang and Olufsen are still manufactured in Denmark, and they still have a decent market. And they are ridiculously expensive.

        We argue we can’t be competitive on our wages etc in manufacturing cars, yet the Germans sell billions globally each year with some of the best marques around. German wages aren’t exactly chicken-feed. Sure, some of their cheaper brands are manufactured in developing nations, but there’s still a huge amount of European engineering and manufacturing.

        If we’re honest, most Aussie retailers are selling the exact same globally available goods. Name an Aussie equivalent of BMW or Bang and Olufsen? Was it Myer, or Harvey Norman, that last helped creat and promote a strong Australian brand?

  22. Local retails have an advantage over online sales, local retails can sell it to you, right here, right now, online sales you have to wait a week or 3 for delivery, they are different methods of selling

    According to economic theory more competition means a more efficient market overall, and for consumers it probably should mean cheaper prices. If thats not true then we could just slap big import tarrifs on everything and “protect” ourselves from the nasty outsiders that are trying to compete.

    Big retails have never been about fairness before, its a big ask to expect us to believe they care about fairness now.

  23. Of course it’s not a level playing field, Gerry. Overseas retailers have to pay to ship our goods to us, here at the bottom of the world. When we buy from HN, the stores that others own and pay you huge franchise fees, we pick them up ourselves – would they deliver a DVD to my house? So stop whining.

  24. I’d be happy for GST to be applied to online purchases [wait for it!] BUT i’d like (via magic or ACCC or somehow) some regulation which prevents regionalisation of digital media pricing. eg why does Steam charge more for Australia than the US? The only sane answer is pressure from publishers to create a pricing fixing cartel to prevent digital purchases from “competing” “unfairly” with bricks n mortar.

    • I agree, Thateus. Why should Australians pay so much more for books, music and software? Especially if they are in digital form (downloadable)?

      And in reply to an earlier commenter, other countries can sell Australian goods more cheaply than we can. Books published here are sold to us at much lower prices from the U.K. or U.S.

      The big retailers’ campaign doesn’t seem to take into account that many smaller Australian retailers are doing very nicely online, despite charging 10% GST. These retailers provide quality goods and good service. Also, there is a lot of Australian-NZ ecommerce, and both countries charge a goods and services tax. For example, there is Nutshell in NZ, who create and sell really excellent cases for electronics (they have a flourishing worldwide market), and the Carbon Zero retailer NZNature, who sell locally-made clothing and artifacts.

      I think one of the reasons that the big retailers’ campaign hasn’t won “hearts and minds” is that the GST is hardly a popular item. It’s a permanent 10% inflation on our cost of living, which was imposed despite a specific and repeated election promise not to impose it. One of the conditions of imposing it was that a whole raft of other taxes would be removed. Has that occurred? Or, as with the censorship filter, is this just another way to limit our choices?

  25. There’s a single and important reason why you are incorrect:

    Australia is already barely worth bothering about.

    Why make it then more unlikely that any will support the Australian market?

    Sure, harsh, but its true. Look at the roll out of google voice, and other online services, which Australia does not benefit from because we’re too small a population with too large an area for it to make sense supporting us.

    If retailers have to make a special web page just for when selling to Australia?

    They will, either:

    1) Spend $$$ updating website for tiny-tiny-tiny-$ of australia online $’s income (very unlikely)

    2) Ignore the whole thing and force people to pay import duty themselves, having all packages held by customs (very likely)

    3) Stop shipping to australia (very likely)

    None of this is a win for consumers.

    The Australian online market is pitiful, and as a result exactly 100% of consumers will then:

    1) refuse to declare the true value of the content they are shipping.

    2) use re-mailing services.

    This entire debate is a waste.

    • If it did happen (though unlikely) then it would work just like for purchases > $1000 do now, that is, customs would take the parcel, open it, and send you a bill for the GST you owe. The online retailer would not have to do anything (after all, the Australian government has no power over foreign businesses, so could not “make” them do anything…)

  26. Why did this only become an issue now since the dollar changed and suddenly became competitive. Why wasn’t Gery complaining about this is 2009? Did his strategy managers not see what was happening oseas with trends showing the growth on online sales?

    What would be great is to see what is actually been spent in oseas sales? I have seen presentations that show Australians searching more and viewing more international sites but no figures on whether we are buying more than last year and how much as a % of our spend here, locally.

    Interesting comment from a colleague who spent several years working in the digital space in the UK was that although websitse for many corporates were much better oseas eg UK the real difference he saw in Australia was the time it took to actually have a parcel delivered. His experience was that you could purchase a product in the UK online and have it delivered guaranteed next day. In Australia parcels takes days to arrive and you could wait up to a week.

    If you could have the good delivered to your doorstep next day and pay slightly more for it would you rather buy locally?

  27. The entire premise of Mr LeMay’s article is bunk. This debate has absolutely nothing to do with the GST, and everything to do with problems in the complainers’ respective business models.

    As noted by many others: if there were only a 10 per cent difference between the prices you get online and the prices you get on store, the vast majority of people would in fact go into the store. The 10 per cent premium would easily be compensated for by the knowledge that you’re dealing with someone reputable who actually has a physical presence.

    The problem is that when I’m searching for a particular product – say, a book that I need for my social research – my choice is between the $130 price-tag at Borders, and the $49 price-tag at Book Depository, a site that I know is reliable. There is no way in the world I’m going to allow myself to be ripped off by Borders.

    They’re addicted to profit margins. I’ll bet if you talk to any one of these people about economics and finance in general, they’ll be free-market advocates to the hilt. Yet when competition hits their businesses, suddenly they want protection from the forces of competition.

  28. To Adam,

    I agree entirely with your point – Why not scrap the GST for online purchases under $1000. ? The ATO is already double and triple dipping charging duty, GST and company tax to the retailers. Along with that the retailers have to pay huge overheads for their premises, staff, insurance and the rest.
    It would give the online retail industry here in Australia a huge boost and allow the retailers to set up an extensive online ordering network from warehouses they already have.
    This in turn would generate more profits for them with less overheads and allow them to reduce the prices at their glitzy stores.
    Everyone wins from the online customer to the retailer to the person that loves that touchy feely sensation of going to the shopping mall. Call me ignorant or naive but it seems like a plan !

    • It’s not online purchases that are GST free under $1,000. Its purchases from overseas under $1,000. It just so happens most purchases from overseas are done online

  29. The bottom line is this…..Gerry is a Billionaire under the present system. He has not posted a Loss in profit, in fact their Profits continue to rise. He is a Greedy man who implies that he is concerned for Aussie jobs. The fact is he bypasses Australian Manufacturers in favour of cheap Chinese Imports with a High Price Tag which is now biting him on the arse. BTW Gerry where did you purchase your Yaght?

    • He is a Greedy man who implies that he is concerned for Aussie jobs.

      Yes and there is now talk of him following Myers lead and opening thier own China-based online sales sites to combat online competitors and to take advantage of the GST free threshold.

      So much for employing Australians to deliver the hosting, web development and administration. We have IT professionals driving taxis these days.

      E-Commerce was the big buzzword about 10 years ago, but the major retailers, and others, just rubbernecked as the ship went sailing past Australia.

      Sorry Gerry, but its 2011 now, not the 19th century

  30. Obviously a lot of the comments above are not made by one of these stuggling retailers.There are always two sides to a story and two sides to an argument but please let these retailers arguments be heard.Margins in the retail sector have diminished to single digits in most areas making the cost of business a whole lot more expensive then the years of “easy profits”.Rents have increased,cost of hiring staff increased,minimal wage increase,advertising expense increased,theft has massively increase, you name it, they have all increased to provide the consumer a touch and feel expereince in a retail outlet… And yet margins have decreased…. Comments like “retailers can halve their staffing and offer the same service” is absolute rubbish. All retailers are working on absolute bare minimum staffing numbers to try and make a dollar. By halving this number would be absolute suicide as this is our only strengh. Australian jobs are at risk, big risk and for all that like to save a buck online, continue doing so but be warned, we all know someone in retail…. Lets not forget 1 in 10 australians are employed in retail, this can and will change….

  31. Gerry Harvey is a greedy old pig who is crying foul cause he can no longer compete.

    What a whinging, greedy old tosser he is.

    I wouldn’t shop in a Harvey Norman store ever again as a protest after what this fuckwit is trying to do.

    Impose a tax on aussie consumers to further fatten his own greedy arse.

    It’s just the way it is Gerry. Get it in your head. compete or fail. It’s the same way media and Murdoch will eventually fail with online news replacing grubby newspapers.

    It happened with the death of the corner shop and milk bar years ago at the hands of the supermarkets.

    I hope all Australian consumers turn their back on this handful of greedy sods and boycott any stores that push for a GST on online purhcases.


  32. Hey.

    Just for fun, I encourage everyone to ring their local Hardly Normal store and inquire on a product and price. Then follow up with, “Geeze stick it mate, I can get that at a third of the price online and that includes postage’!!!


  33. It seems to me that if the ATO went down the path of ensuring international retailers collected 10% GST on all imported products, or excise duty had to be paid at the border less Australians would buy overseas because it was too hard.

    The reason I buy overseas might be partially because of price, but it’s also for convenience.

    My issue therefore is not whether the government should implement a 10% GST, but in fact HOW they do it. If it is by issuing a mandate to collect 10% at international points of sale, or at the border (delaying the delivery of products) the simple fact is they are creating the type of barrier that would have Gerry Harvey doing cartwheels in glee.

    Perhaps the end game is not about 10% or not – perhaps it’s about confounding those retailers who have gotten off their backsides over the last 15 years and committed to selling online. I’m sure if Gerry Harvey could use the government to restrict (or otherwise inhibit) their ability to trade, he would.

    • The point is that the ATO *can’t* force overseas retailers to do ANYTHING, but they CAN push for legislative changes to the Fiscal Services Act (I think that’s its’ name) to make it MANDATORY for the likes of VISA / MASTERCARD / PAYPAL / AMEX / DINERS (and any other payment method that works online and does business in Australia) to add a flat 10% GST to ALL overseas transactions.

      If not, they can then get the Government to empower Customs to collect the GST on EVERY parcel received from overseas and, as I said in an earlier post, base that GST on the AUSTRALIAN RETAIL PRICE.

      DO I think they will – not really. Is it possible to do – VERY EASILY.

      • Hey Molder,

        I see your point but in this scenario the ultimate loser is the Australian consumer. How about making ALL AUSTRALIAN goods sold online GST exempt to help both our Aussie manufacturers and retailers alike.
        I don’t think that would harm the likes of China’s manufacturing juggernaut one bit but would boost our homegrown trade by 10% instantly. Nationalism I say. He he

  34. It doesn’t matter how they spin it, the 10% GST mounts to NOTHING in comparisons like this:

    A high end camera flash:
    retail: 660 AUD at one big camera chain
    online: 360 AUD including shipping, so even throw in GST 360+ 36 = 396 ok, make it 400

    it is STILL cheaper than The retailer putting a 25% off their retail price!
    which is: 660 X 0.75 = 495 inc GST!

    Next: a high end camera lens
    Retail is 1399
    online is 700 including shipping…

    once again. the best retail price i can manage is 999, which is still 199 more than 700 + GST then round it up to 800!!! (999-800 = 199)

    over the warranty issue: Most major electronics producers has 1 year international warranty, ie. a nokia phone purchased in Finland gets same level service as it purchased in AUS!

    if the Aus price include GSt is just 30 to 50 more than international price, i am willing to stay local, but when it is over 150… no thanks!

    What the Big retail chain must do is turn itself into a produce demonstrator store, sell the service and product knowledge. Customer is willing to pay the 50 or so more at the spot for the impulsive buying hunch. Not when there is 300 something difference at the back of their mind!

  35. Yes, if the retailers were actually competitive.(example 1.8M hdmi cable) at dick smith = $30 and online I can get the same thing for $8 delivered to my door, then I have to ask : if I added 10% gst to the $8 item for a toatal of $8.80 thats a mega savings I get from buying online. I cant seem to fathom where the rest of the money goes, there must be a cashed up middleman here!!(Harvey Norman, Dick Smith Electronics, the list goes on and on etc etc).

    Sorry BIG RETAILERS you dont get my sympathy. If the same item was like $10 at the shop sure I would shop locally get your prices in order 1st and then lets have a discussion about GST for overseas purchases.

  36. Great article.

    Like you I can see that there is disparity in the taxation of goods. Like Gerry Harvey, I only care about that when it affects me negatively. Gerry Harvey shouting about it affects me negatively (if he succeeds in increasing online prices). Where there is disparity – and lets face there’s disparity everywhere in this hell hole of a world, people like Gerry Harvey exploit it. Where they can’t exploit it they try to stop it.

    The consumers telling Gerry to STFU are exercising their Gerryness if you like, doing precisely what he does whenever he wants to turn a situation to his own advantage.

    So for me, the issue is not disparity. The issue is, and will always be, who shouts loudest and has the most political clout on the day wins. I hope the consumer does in this case. Jeebus knows it happens rarely enough.

  37. The question needs to asked as to why people are buying online?

    It is because prices are so much cheaper.

    Also, so many times I have gone to Harvey Norman to buy an advertised product, I have been told that there are none currently in stock. So either I have to make a trip to another store, wait while they order one in.
    Usually they try to sell me another product that is more expensive.

    So generally I go somewhere else or order online from a reputable supplier, thus saving wasted time and expense on traveling around from store to store.

  38. Gerry Harvey is just a *censored by Delimiter editor. Play nicely now*.

    Long live online shopping and fuck Harvey Norman and all the others.

    As I said, compete or die.


  39. I don’t understand the problem here. Retail and online sales are not the same market.

    Gerry is trying to protect his companies margins, by blaming a different sales model for his woes. Bricks and mortar stores compete against each other. Online retailers do the same thing.

    If I can buy and import a product over seas from an online store, that has say order 2000 units, how is it that Gerry, who’s business wide orders must be considerable, can’t buy at the same price? It’s a smoke screen.

    He can. He probably actually paid less. Then he adds his business costs to it and sells at a pretty solid markup. That makes it MORE expensive than me buying and not slapping on all the extra costs.

    What you pay for, from a bricks and mortar store, is access to see the product & ability to uplift at the same time. You also have someone to go back to, in event of problems occurring.

    What Gerry is trying to “sell” is that online stores should effectively be the same price as him, because people are discovering it’s a far cheaper option, where delivery can be as quick as over-night. It’s basically undermining his business model.

    There is always going to be a Market for both options; I’d humbly suggest Gerry should care more about improving his companies competitive model, perhaps moving to include a proper online model to sell product in competition to other online retailers, rather than demonising the competition he refuses to meet.

    His very public spats with Kogan shows Gerry is only interested in his bottom line.

  40. Gerry Harvey says online shoppers buying bargains from overseas – like Gerry Harvey does as well; sure buying from HIS shops where he imports at the best price from the overseas sellers… but when people want to make their purchases from overseas sellers too -without HIM in the middle – he starts whining.

    There is a term I have coined called “The Great Australian Gouge” where I can buy retail from other countries – with airmail for a SINGLE item, and it can cost 1/3 to 1/2 the retail prices in Australia.

    I have a case about to proceed regarding Wesfarmers who operate an enormous range of companies – including Bunnings; the average best RETAIL price for a particular not very brilliant wood plane in the USA is about $35 + $14 airmail.

    Bunnings charge $135 (+$10 postage) for the same item.

    Yet here they are whining like stuck pigs.


    Online GST fracas: Tax revolt swells
    Ben Butler
    January 5, 2011
    WESFARMERS has thrown its weight behind a controversial campaign to scrap tax rules that allow Australians to shop on overseas websites without paying GST.

    A media blitz yesterday, dominated by billionaires Solomon Lew and Gerry Harvey, has divided the retail industry between those in favour of an aggressive campaign and those who favour a lower-key approach.

    Perth-based conglomerate Wesfarmers, which controls retail chains including the Bunnings hardware group, Coles and Bi-Lo supermarkets, Officeworks and Kmart, was represented in campaign advertisements taken out yesterday only by its Target brand.

    But company spokesman Alan Carpenter told BusinessDay: ”Wesfarmers fully supports the Target position.”

    The support of Wesfarmers provides much-needed credibility for the campaign, which yesterday ran into stiff resistance from politicians and the public. etc..

    Wesfarmers = Pigs arse.

    • Speaking of getting ripped off:

      Wesfarmers that owns Officeworks – and their everyday LOW prices, along with Big W (Woolworths) Coles etc……..

      OK I am a bit of a mechanical pencil nut…..


      Complete Office Supplies Pty Ltd $1.10 each.

      Woolworths 2 pack – $2.98 for 2 of them. (their website is run by idiots)

      Office Works – $2.98 for one.

  41. Renai, you have missed the far bigger issue at hand here. The question is of business models. It’s not like online retailing has snuck up on them out of nowhere. Gerry and his cohorts over at Myer, DJ’s et al. have had over a decade to prepare. Their response? A loud, resounding yawn. All this braying about dodging the GST is nothing but a smoke screen – online stores are lean, efficient operations with overheads Harvey and his fat cat mates would kill for.

    But instead of attempting to actually change their way of doing business, they complain that they “can’t compete” and that these operators have an “unfair advantage.” The problem is not an unfair advantage, Mr Harvey. The problem is that you’re an unimaginative old fart who dismissed internet shopping as “a passing fad,” and instead of having the humility to admit that he made a bad call he is effectively campaigning for the government to stifle progress under the guise of “leveling the playing field” and “protecting jobs.” Gerry Harvey caring about Australian jobs – now that’s rich coming from a man who wants to be able to pay foreigners less than Australians to work in his stores. And do I really have to mention what happened to Australian manufacturing once retailers like Harvey started importing en masse?

    Businesses which can’t adapt to progress and changes in the market are destined to fail. Gerry Harvey is making it abundantly clear that he does not want to adapt, and quite frankly I don’t give a damn. Very few things please me more than seeing stupid rich businessmen become stupid poor businessmen.

  42. If Billionaire Gerry Harvey and his mob succeed in forcing new charges on online purchases, I for one will never step foot inside his stores again,, as will Im sure many others.

    However if he wants to make his prices more competitive with online purchasing then people would not go online seeking better bargains!

    • Oppa, do yourself a favour and stop walking into Harvey Norman completely, regardless of whether his campaign succeeds. The only thing that’s cheap at Harvey Norman is the parking.

      I know, I checked on the internet :-Þ

      • Good advice TB!
        You’re right, it’s just a waste of time and the cost of petrol to travel to HN can already be saved by going online. :)

  43. The playing field is not level. One of the things that makes it not level is that there is no GST on overseas purchases under $1000.

    However there are many other things that make it not level. Many of these favour HN and other large retailers – media and government influence, buying power, vertical integration, expensive tax lawyers – the list goes on.

    So what. The question is, overall is it level enough? Applying the GST to small overseas purchases, by itself, would not tilt it back enough in HN’s favour for them to be able to compete on price. However, a high level of administration and delay associated with collecting the GST would do nicely. So that’s what Gerry and Solomon are hoping for.

    But why would the government do that for them? The point of collecting tax is to be able to spend the money collected on Government services. If no tax is collected, or all the money used up by the collectors, there is no point. Surely this would be a much greater evil than having the playing field tilted slightly less in favour of the big retailers?

    • So true, Chris. Gerry Harvey is facing competition he can’t kill using his old-fashioned business tactics, so rather than trying to wise up he wants the government to stifle this new-fangled online competition with bureaucracy.

      What a sad old git.

  44. It seems to me that much of Solomon Lews // Westfield and many other commercial interests is to make everyone into rent paying slaves.

    As one prick in a bank said to a guy as they looked out of the office across the city – “See these properties – we own it all; and everyone in them, are working for us”.

    And Harvey Norman…. My nearest store is 120Km away… and ummmm

    People complain that the store rents are too high….

    People complain that the cost of doing business is high – and all the paperwork and insurance and pay and and and and and and and and – that is all legitimate…..

    Then you get things like import duty – and even people who are not my deadly enemies tell me that it absolutely kills them cost wise to import products that are only made in China etc….

    But – as the consumer, am I prepared to “fund” all of this overhead just to get a product at 2 or 3 times the price, compared to buying directly from a retailer overseas? No – not really. My income is limited and my $$$ MUST be productively spent in the most efficient way possible.

    I can’t afford to piss away $350 on a welding helmet here in Australia that I can get for $120 in the USA. If the Australian retail price was $135 – yeah I’d buy here – but I won’t pay 3 X the going rate for the same article here as there.

    And there is the other factor – that the education system and their families produce many dead from the neck up workers who think that shit customer service and a lack of forward thinking – and the investment of their own time and effort into STANDARDS of service is perfectly acceptable.

    Take the fuckholes in Telstra….lying, bullshitting and giving people the run around….. The banks thieving and lying to people – Yes it’s OK to STEAL money from people and then bullshit them with our FAKE boiler plate terms and conditions…

    And the list goes on.

    These days – my terms and conditions are maximum productivity and enjoyment and minimum obstructions and bullshit – and when folks like Harvey Norman, Wesfarmers, Solomon Lew and co are in there pulling a protectionist racket – well all I have to do is reflect upon how the management of Wesfarmers LIED to me – about my legal rights and tried to get away with selling a not very impressive wood plane for $135 retail, that sells for $35 retail in the USA….

    As far as my thinking goes – The moment that you try to scam me, is the moment that you are off the list of preferred suppliers and onto the list of “only if I have too” – to “basically never” suppliers…..

  45. Good to hear about all these great deals people unearth now courtesy of increased competition via the Internet and cheap manufacturers like Kogan!
    Imagine the prices, services and lack of innovation if the Government outlawed competition and forced us into a Monopoly, yuk! But that could never happen…could it?

  46. harvey norman stores, david jones, myers, and tens of thousands of other retaillers EMPLOY a massive amount of tax paying AUSTRALIANS for their livley hood. the retailers pay gst ,business tax,wages tax, fees and licences they EMPLOY AUSTRALIAN construction workers to build their outlets they EMPLOY AUSTRALIAN freight industry to deliver to them they EMPLOY AUSTRALIAN maintance workers to maintain ther facilites they EMPLOY AUSTRALIAN cleaners and so on and on. i would rather pay a little more for my goods and support my country any day.
    have a nice day.

    • What? a little more? Try double, triple the price.

      I don’t care, I just want cheap goods.

      Look what happened to garbo’s and heaps of other workers jobs over the years. It’s just called progress and the way the world and marketplace is going.

      Now, back online to buy MORE CHEAP STUFF!!! Cool!


    • Hear, hear…. About time someone truly thinks of the 1 in 10 australians this will impact!!!!!!!!!! Well done Matt…..

    • And regards to Matt and the 1000’s of dear folk that Gerry & Co employ???

      Well, I wonder if Matt (or Generous Gerry) has ever given a thought to all those gullible consumers who continually fall for the good old ‘Buy now, Pay Later’ scheme that sees thousands of aussies in the poor house after 18 months/12 months/2years etc and all they are left with is a huge debt and a piece of useless garbage. This greedy arsehole has made his billions by exploiting the gullible and offering lowly paid, crap jobs to dole bludgers forced into working for him by Centrelink.

      Harvey was on the radio the other morning crapping on about his wifes shopping trip to New York.

      This little runt is priceless eh? I hope he chokes on his billions.

      I also believe he is slightly retarded. Anyone else ever noticed that ? And he must be a right turd to work for.


    • Hook, Line and Sinker.

      Matt, you have sucked the spin in just the way it was intended.

      It is fine to support local industry … but not when it exploits consumers to fill its large pockets.

      These companies employ the bare minimum people they think they can get away with. To suddenly tout them as some sort charitable employee focussed organisations is naive, verging on gullible.

      Perhaps these companies need to negotiate with their suppliers to get a better deal so they can compete … or change their business model.

      Whatever the case, trying the old chestnut of keeping jobs in our country, and supporting our economy is a woollen blanket which is a little thread-bare to pull over everyone’s eyes.

  47. Absolutely – you are so correct….

    But Harvey Norman and co., well I have bought a TI-89 Titanium Calculator in the USA for $127.

    Pricks like Dick Sniff owned by Woolworths, owned by Wesfarmers – charge ~$220 for the same thing.

    Local retailer in the USA sells a pox little Stanley block plane for $35. Bunnings in Australia, owned by Wesfarmers charge $135 for the same thing.

    Brand X welding Helmets – Flash Model ABC sells in the USA for $120. CIG / BOG / Miller / etc. sells them in Australia for $340.

    They all import them from China into the USA or Australia or the UK etc.., they all import them by the 10’s of thousands in container loads.

    So how come we get the shit screwed out of us by getting forced to pay around 2 or 3 times the going price in Australia, when we can as a single unit purchaser, in buying them ONE at a time, and importing them soley by AIR MAIL… still come out MILES IN FRONT… by telling people like Harvey Norman and the rest of team sleaze, that we do not want to buy from them.

    It comes down to this:

    Harvey Norman, Solomon Lew and all the other racketeering money hungry cash grabbers, have a monopoly market; that 3% of the population and growing – are saying NO too…..

    There is a simple marketing rule – Get too greedy – people undercut your and your customers go elsewhere.

    Get too nasty and the customers revolt.

    So to Harvey Norman and the rest of team sleaze – quit gouging and quit being arseholes and maybe your might get more of the pie.

    Continue your standover merchant bullshit – and you will face open revolt.

  48. The GST issue is just SPIN. There is no factual basis to it. Gerry Harvey would like the government to make it illegal to purchase goods overseas, but that would make him look somewhat like a pale parody of Mr Burns from the Simpsons, so he has opted for this approach.

    The fact is that if you know what you want, the internet is a more efficient, cheaper and less frustrating way to obtain it. GST or no GST. No doubt the smaller electrical retailers found it hard to compete with Harvey Norman’s buying volume and market sway in years gone by. This may go some way to explaining why there is little sympathy for Mr Harvey’s self interested public policy push. If he wants to compete … then compete … or take your ball and go home.

    Online Australian retailers that run good online businesses with competitive pricing compete well (partly on the basis of delivery times and shipping costs) Large retailers on the other hand have ignored online trading and have abandoned quality ware for their cheaper in-house brands (manufactured offshore) and sold at hugely inflated prices. Sadly their concern for Australian jobs and the economy was not evident then.

    The staffing levels in large department stores are appalling to the point of being frustrating … little concern for jobs and the wellbeing of Australian workers there.

    The fact is that Mr Harvey should stick to making inane advertisements, and leave spin to the people who do it best.

    Globalisation isn’t just a tool for the retail sector to maximise profits by purchasing offshore. It works in many ways, and this is one of them.

  49. Gerry Harvey actually FEEDS some of my pet hates……

    1. In the small hours of the night…. One eye open at the TV, and

    The dickhead TV station people use (I think) compression to intensify the sound levels of the adds from quietly chatting people in the movie to YELLING AT YOU to wake the whole house up……

    2. Who’s idiot add was it?

    “Go Harvey, Go Harvey Go Harvey Norman NOW”….

    Yes.. Go Harvey – into MUTE and CHANGE CHANNEL.

  50. While you were building expensive castles in the sky for shareholders guys, things kind of passed you by – not a trickle, nor a flood but a bloody tsunami to wave you goodbye –

    You are so yesterday, didnt you notice the customer you thought was king, was like the Emperor and his clothes –

    Not wearing it any more Gerry!

    shoppers have left your world and joined the online community – you didnt get it and you wont get my business by tipping a bucket over what is now standard consumer practice.

    Gooooobyyyyyyyye Gerry.

  51. I think the point is missed by most, Not one of these retailers care about the level playing field or the GST one little bit!

    Gerry and his cohorts know full well that by forcing customs to apply duties and GST will hold up our overseas purchases effectively creating a barrier and a Government to blame. Everyone forgets that most items are purchased with hard earned money already heavily taxed so naturally people are forced to shop far and wide to get a better deal for what’s left over. This “perceived” problem caused by parity rectifies itself with each downward spiral of the AUD so who really cares!

    All this PR disaster has done is bring to the attention of all those non internet savvy consumers how badly they’re getting ripped off and given them good enough reason to learn how to purchase items online and given me so many more options of where to source products for even better prices through the comments of others.

  52. Computing book “CLR Via C# 2nd ed.”

    Amazon: $39 + $10 USD postage = approx $50 AUD

    Borders, (Knox shopping center, Melbourne) $137.50 AUD

    And retailers actually expect us to take their whining BS seriously!!!

  53. I started shopping online quite early on because I was housebound due to illness and live in the country. No doubt the big retailers imagine I can just stroll down 250km of highway to visit their shops. I always buy Australian (or NZ) if possible, but in some cases (especially for books and software) it is not possible to get the item locally.

    It’s important to realize that people are not shopping online because they are lazy, have too much money, or don’t care about their country and the environment. (Online shopping is probably better for the environment overall. ;) )

    Online shoppers do their research, and they reward good service. At least online we have a choice. Walk into any of the big shops and ask for something, and you’ll get an offhand “If it’s not on the shelf, we don’t have it”, or if you’re really lucky, they’ll offer to order it in, and you only have to wait about 6 weeks. Smaller retailers understand what good service is, which is why so many of them do well online, and may still be surviving offline in the Harvey Norman era.

    Look at the ratings/feedback used by sites like eBay. People rate the quality of the goods, the communication of the seller, and speed/cost of receipt. These ratings exist because they are things customers value. Do you see any of the big retailers genuinely trying to offer these features?

    • Yeah I live “in the country” too… it’s about 120K to the nearest regional “big town” and about 270K to the nearest city – that’s ONE way, and aside from hamburgers and some groceries, there is SFA to be had locally, and there is NO way that I am driving 250Km and a whole day away to get building supplies // computer parts // cooking materials // etc….. when I can either do an online order or a VOIP call to the supplier, and have it delivered to my door via courier or post within a few days.

      I have a friend who imports welding equipment and he says; The Import Duty // Customs // etc.,etc., etc…. makes importing any equipment so incredibly expensive – there ARE real costs to absorb – just to run the business – before ANY profit.

      So while my friend has my sympathy – if I can get a Texas Instuments graphing calculator for $125 in the USA along with 2 or 3 calculus and calculators for dummies books sent to my front door within about 5 or 7 days from the USA for about $180 all up – and companies like Dick Sniff (another Wesfarmers company) are charging $240 just for the calculator on the store shelf….

      Well why in the fuck should I be buying off them?

      The two aspects of internet shopping – either locally or OS., KMART, which is part of the Coles Meyer Group – again owned by Wesfarmers, If I go online to see their stock of paint – the brands, amounts (tin sizes) and prices… all they have is a few links in and a stupid picture of a young couple pretending to paint a wall inside their home – and some footnotes saying, “Come in store to see our great range of paints”.

      Well WTF are you even putting up a website if your can’t show what you have?

      This real “shit for brains” dinkum Aussie mentality as run by corporate morons, stupid people make stupid websites… and Harvey Norman are in the same category.

      They piss and moan about OS retailers not having to pay GST… and yet… their own websites are so stupidly made, and you can’t do anything with them or on them….

      And forgetting about the OS suppliers, the companies that are on the ball with supply and demand – and fast, friendly service and door to door deliveries and prices that leave Hardly Normal for dead….

      Speaking of shit service in the next town along from where I live is super market – and it’s appalling.

      The food prices are survivable IF you only buy the specials…..

      But the service is so bad…. and they have a tendency to put the biggest dickhead on the checkout…

      They had set their check out to handle ONLY plastic bagging – and when the town went plastic bag free, they did not modify their checkouts to handle the loose groceries… which pile up into un-manageable heaps in the former plastic bagging area of the checkout….

      I noticed that Aldi has a very efficient check out and load up process – for getting the products otu of the register area… and I raised it with her, I said, “Did you know Aldi has a really good way of….” and she interrupts and says “OH this is not Aldi this is So and So town – and that is just the way it goes..”.

      She cuts me off, she reuses to listen to what I had to say, she failed to capitalise on an idea to IMPROVE customer service and the business, she failed to show that she was smart by taking this to the boss…

      And I am thinking – that is a smart move.

      They also do deals with the local butchers to supply them with meat…. I get there at 8.30am and I intend to get my shopping done in under half an hour…

      Do they have the place set up and ready to do before opening time? Nope. The butchers are coming in at 9.30am and they are dragging their arses and they do half the delivery and come back in another half and hour or so… to do the remainder….. So this is getting on to be nearly 10.30am before they get all the meat in the shelves….

      I said to the check out chick with the attitude problem – “If this was my supermarket – I’d have all the meat done and on the shelves, and all ready to go before the door opened” – so she says, a comment along the lines of, “Your opinion is not worth listening too, and if the manager and the butcher are not working on this issue tough shit for you, also it’s not my problem because I am not going to bring it up with them, and if you don’t like me and my attitude and the way we do business – then I really don’t give a shit – you can wait like everyone else does – because that is the way we do business here”.

      And I am thinking, “They want me to wait around for nearly 2 hours and she likes to give me shit for raising the issue that slack service and bad attitudes (along with their really HIGH prices), are something that ME the customer, is something I have to accept”….

      Well Darls…. I don’t.

      The only reason they get SOME business, is because they are closer than Aldi, but the shit service, the bad attitude and the expectation that I should be waiting around for them – that my time and experience is worth NOTHING to them – well my time is everything to me.

      Then I say to her, “I have a truck coming back the other way in an hour or two, can you put this out the back for me so he can pick it up”….

      And she starts to give me a mouthful of shit and bad attitude… “OH it’s not my job, I am not leaving here (in an almost empty store with 5 staff), and you can’t leave your groceries there”…

      So after that – she then gets the manager to do her job for her…..

      I just looked at her and thought, “If your boss doesn’t kick you out of here and on your arse in the street – as a liability to this business, then when this business folds you will be”.

      I thought – I have had a fucking gutful of the place…

      They are now listed as a “Only if I have too and ONLY if it’s convenient” – at Aldi I can get all the groceries I need at about half the price, their checkouts have cues and the staff do the job instead of getting lippy with the customers.

      I have been to BIG retail stores with 10 square acres and no staff in sight – and they call some scanner on a post a useful asset…

      And they have the “scan your own groceries”…… or two checkouts open with cues of 20 people at them…

      One day I was in the mens dept, and they had a 16yo girl stacking socks in racks and I asked her if she could help me with my measurements…. my first question was, “Do you have a tape measure?” She goes, “What’s that?”.

      (you know, TAPE – strip, roll, + MEASURE, – rule, sizes, clothing etc.)

      And I thought – they are not even putting staff through ANY basic training in the clothing industry….

      I can walk into a MENS store – they have staff, and they all have tape measures in their pockets OR they are smart enough to look you up and down and know what your clothing sizes actually are…..

      In Big W – there is only ONE member of staff in the whole clothing area, and it’s 16yo who doesn’t have a clue on what a tape measure actually is…..

      That is like going to a tyre shop and asking “Do you have any of Brand X tyres in these sizes?” and the seller says, “What? Is that the black round things? – I don’t know I will have to call me supervisor.”

      As a general rule – the more Americanised these chain stores are, the dumber the management and staff get… because they don’t personally have to be accountable for their actions – and the management just like stupid people like them who can kiss their arses, instead of growing a brain.

      If the smaller retailer shits in a customers face – they lose the sale and cop flack via word of mouth.

      In the big chain stores… “It’s not the individuals problem – it’s the customers problem”…

      I also guess that WE the people of Australia – ALL must begin to accept responsibility – because like pollution – we ALL contribute to it.

      Everytime WE set as high a price as we can on EVERYTHING in the chain of supply – from transport, to floor space rent prices, to insurance, to import duties and customs charges – everything – well that is a great way to price ourselves out of the market.

      So while people say “Gerry Norman is a prick for importing cheap stuff and selling it and putting local manufacturing out of business” – well that may be in fact true, even if it can be applied to much of the sales industry and retail.

      But who is buying the cheap imported stuff, with ALL the markups along the way?

      We are.

      As a community – and as a country – we have to start to give more of ourselves and do a lot less taking.

      We have a mission.

      Sure you can buy stuff from China at low costs – but the costs to the environment – that shit washes down stream and into the oceans and the fish we eat…. The pollution adds to the global warming.

      When we as a society operate almost exclusively on PROFIT driven values, rather than ETHICS driven values – we become much like the rabbit plagues of the 1920’s..

      We breed and feed and breed and feed and eventually we run out of options.

      The grass is all gone and the paddock is not getting any bigger.

      There is no where else to go.

      So think about this while you drive your SUV or Tinsel Town Tractor 3K down the road to buy a liter of milk, instead of riding the bicycle.

      Think about this while your trying to gut the competition and make more profit for the shareholders.

      Think about this while your jacking up the interest rates, that drive up the rental rates, that drive up the business fees and charges and think about what can people have left to buy food with to eat or where they can live….

      When it comes to happiness – relationships based upon giving and sharing and caring are at the top of the list, and money is at the very bottom.

  54. “does not easily suit the online age?” – absolute rubbish.

    GST/VAT/consumption taxes all around the world work in exactly the same way. If the consumption is within the country (or state), then tax applies, otherwise it does not.

    Short of creating a system that is even more overcomplicated than the GST currently is (for businesses, mostly, but consumers alike), the status quo is just fine.

  55. I have worked for Gerry Harvey for the past 17 years, and whilst right now I wish someone would cut the phone lines to his office and forcibly stop him from giving interviews to the media…. I have to speak in his defence.
    I have seen so many thousands of people benefit from Gerry’s generosity, kindness and general belief in people. For the past 20, 30, however many years he has given so much of his time, and shared so much of his wealth… it doesnt matter who you are or where you come from.. you just have to work hard and give it a red hot go. I have seen refugees turn into millionaires, hardworking sales people have their lives transformed by opportunity… and I have never seen him refuse a phone call or a meeting from an employee or someone who wants a go. This man has changed more lives for the better in Australia than any other business person out there.
    Yes, HN’s online strategy needs a huge wake up call, yes it is a little archaic and knee jerk to pursue the gst on online debate… but the hate and the personal comments are misguided and unfair.

    • Yeah JS YOU may have a point in SOME respects…. BUT perhaps not in all respects.

      Sure some of what some people may say is unkind…. and some of it may in fact be valid, or valid without adequate consideration of the circumstances, or only valid in bits….

      And the “internet age” way of sales where some venues become little more than a warehouse // distribution center, and there are no sales staff…. only a loading bay and trucks coming in and couriers going out….

      That is a definite price advantage.

      And sure there are many “big shops” that have 3 people on the checkouts and 4 or 5 stacking the shelves.. and long cues and no sales staff on the floor……

      Sure Gerry may have done some nice things for many people…. but at the same time, his wheelings and dealings look a touch suspect – with his wife as the CEO (or something) of his franchise…and the shareholders seemingly on a low boil… (look that up else where)

      The fact that he entertains himself with racing horses…. and spends up big on pricey stuff… and his wife goes to New York to shop….

      But a lot of people are saying the franchises don’t have enough staff, and comparably speaking even shopping in similar retail outlets, other people are buying the same stuff at 1/3 to 1/2 the price.

      There are lots of people saying his monopolistic business model belongs in the dark ages, and many people are pissed off about him and his friends secretly lobbying the government to interfere with other people being able to buy elsewhere….. by adding to their costs…

      I am also sure that this is not the only thing Gerry and his buddies are lobbying the government about.

      While Gerry sings his own praises, he had no scruples about undercutting his own direct competition and putting them out of business and their jobs.

      Gerry also had NO problem with getting the cheapest imported goods instead of buying locally made product….

      So you know, no matter how much you polish a terd, it’s still a terd.

  56. Oh – Harvey Norman I remember them back around the year 2000. They had a purchase option using credit card details then. However he was incompetant and stupid enough not to hook it up to a credit card gateway and ended up with many sales with false and blacklisted credit cards.

    Damned Luddites.

  57. I find it funny that people are saying that retailers are greedy bastards and overselling their products at a much higher price, when in fact their profit margins for the products they sell are laughably low. If they lowered their prodcuts any lower, they would be losing money

    People whining about Gerry Harvery being a billionaire are just people taking easy potshots at him because they don’t understand that the (majority) of retailers cannot lower prices anymore without going to loss

    The reason why he is complaining about the GST is obvious, its the only area where retailers can help increase their profit margins. If he suggest that Australian wages should be cut or America make special deals with importing goods into Australia at a fraction of what they are now, he would be shot. All the other costs that go into providing the products in retailers are due to Australia’s high wage, and other high industry standards which increase the costs of the products being sold. That an everything is wholesaled off in America (as has been noted before).

    So if nothing is done in this area, Harvery Norman (and others) will simply move onto online, which means that in the end the states will end up losing their money since less people will buy retail (and give money to the states through the form of GST)

  58. Mmmmmm Fair Comment:

    But the guy only had 20 million dollars to piss away on racehorses…… I wonder which park or doorway him and his 6 kids are going to be sleeping in tonight and which soup kitchen they will be eating from?

    Poor fellow – such misfortune.

    “All is lost – Weer Rooned” they cry in angst.

    A friend of mine imports welders and similar from China into Australia and he says that after dealing with the people in China, he has to import it – and share a container – that costs.

    Then he has fees for Customs, Import Duty and Clearance fees – just to get it from the docks, and then he has to transport, insure and then stock up his warehouse, and then he has to advertise and make sales and offer warranty etc….

    Then he has to make a wage, cover his own costs, like insurance, vehicles, housing, bills, medical etc., etc., etc… etc…

    And then he has to make a living from it all…… to realise a profit on the sale.

    And this guy is being genuine with me.

    But at the same time…. while I sympathise with him, Harvey Norman and so like the subsiduaries of Wesfarmers – they retail USB cables that cost $5 in the corner store for $35 each… the cheapest shit computer fans with the plain sintered bearings for nearly $20 each, and they die within 6 months in a dusty environment…

    Wesfarmers own Bunnings and they sell the shit Stanley Block Planes (wood shavers) for almost $140 each, but you can buy them in the USA for under $40 + $14 postage.

    Wesfarmers own an enormous range of BIG retailers in food and groceries and they are big time into mining and exporting coal and leveling the remaining Australian old growth forrests, by woodchipping them, and exporting premium old growth Australian timber, to be shipped back as toilet paper.
    Trees that are hundreds of years old and all the wild life that live in these forrests – are being decimated by Wesfarmers – so that people can wipe their arses with them

    There are many LOCAL retailers with bricks and mortar shops who apply GST, who undercut Harvey Norman to the max.

    Then you get the online retailers that only have a warehouse and a server, and trucks coming in and couriers going out – that offer door to door deliveries.

    They REALLY undercut the likes of Harvey Norman.

    While Harvey Norman and his friends cry poor, Gerry Harvey who founded HN. his WIFE is the CEO of the franchise, the shares used to be worth $7.15 in 2007 and now they are worth $3.60.

    He has rigged it so that he and his managers all get HUGE increases in their bonus’s and renumeration.

    Gerry has his pay jumped from $250,000 last year to $500,000 this year. His wife Katie Page is getting a jump from $1 million last year to $1.5 million this year….

    And the companies are trading at the same level in 2010 – 2011 as they were in 2003; that means they are under performing by 50%……

    And Gerry Harvey has had NO scruples about buying in bulk, cheap and from overseas – and undercutting all the other local retailers, and putting them out of business.

    And Gerry Harvey has no scruples about refusing to buy AUSTRALIAN MADE products from Australian Manufacturers, and getting the cheapest crap from slave labour countries.

    And Gerry Harvey and his stores “Harvey Norman” has basically almost NO staff on the shop floors who are there to sell anything to any customers…

    AND Gerry Harvey // Harvey Norman – has websites that are not worth shit as far as making online sales…

    And Gerry Harvey blows millions on racehorses and then with all his mates, including Wesfarmers, they are secretly lobbying the government to slug the 3% of consumers that buy some of their purchases online and from overseas with a 3% Goods and Services Tax….

    And they still are selling the same crap at 2 or 3 times the prices as local retails – and pumping their adds at full volume on TV, at 3am….

    Gerry Harvey, Wesfarmers and Solomon Lew and all their “fabulous freinds” secretly lobbying the government with their 2 faced bullshit – I would not give these bastards a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

  59. I recently searched for a relatively obscure book. Angus & Robertson wanted ~$100+ph for it; I bought it from Book Depository UK for under $30 with free postage.
    GST? pffft.
    Software, electronics .. come on .. you all know .. just about everything is over-priced here. My (new) American husband is astonished at what things cost here and wonders why we put up with it (like we have a helluva lot of choice in most cases, hubby dear :P)

  60. Oh that reminds me… Wesfarmers who owns Protector Safety (products) – well speaking of RIP OFF’s, like I can’t remember the exact prices… so I will approximate to what I think they were.

    OK they sell respirators (silicon rubber half and full face masks), and they also sell the cartridges to go with them. aside from some really exotic toxic atmospheres, that do need special filtration; almost all of them are short plastic cylinders, with a grate at each end, and some filtering fabric – and a hand full of activated charcoal in the middle. These kinds of respirator cartridges are good for filtering out all sorts of things like paint solvents and a range or other pollutants.

    Basically all activated charcoal is – is ground coconut husk, that has been charred by steam at high temperature (perhaps with some oxygen), so it carbonises without burning….. there is a bit of an art to it, for the size of the pores in the charcoal etc…

    (estimating this a bit) – I think activated charcoal is worth about $300 a ton.

    Wesfarmers and their thieving pricing structure, charge about $60 per filter. (I recall)

    Wesfarmers also own Bunnings, they charge $135 for a cheap crap Stanely block plane that sells for about $35 retail in the USA.

    Wesfarmers also own Target – and Wesfarmers are also really in there pushing the online GST, along with Gerry Harvey.

    Their legal department – I am nailing them for bullshitting me; because they lie their arses off and think I am stupid enough to wear it. But don’t worry guys – I will grind you up and spit out the pieces and then publicise my court action.

    This is most of the list of what Wesfarmers are into owning and Wesfarmers are pushing by secret lobbying of the government – for the application of 10% GST to some of the online purchases made by 3% of the population , that are made overseas

    If you want to know why your getting ripped off bigtime – by some of these companies and their 7-11* products – just ask who sets the prices of $60 for a hand full of ground and scorched coconut husk….

    (7-11 – first retailers in Melbourne to offer late night // all night servicing – Fuel and Junk Food and some other stuff – joke was “Usually costs $7 but you pay $11)

    Home Improvement and Office Supplies

    Wesfarmers owns Bunnings Warehouse – Australia’s largest hardware chain. The chain was expanded considerably with the 2001 takeover of the BBC Hardware group. After taking over Coles Group in 2007, Officeworks, Officeworks BusinessDirect and Harris Technology were added to the Home Improvement Division.

    Coal and Energy

    Wesfarmers Energy owns the Curragh coal mine in Queensland, the Premier Coal operations in Western Australia and a minority interest in the Bengalla coal operation in New South Wales.
    Gas and energy interests include Kleenheat Gas, Wesfarmers LPG, which owns and operates a liquefied petroleum gas extraction plant facility in Kwinana, Western Australia, Coregas, EnGen (Energy Generation) and a minority interest in Air Liquide WA (ALWA).
    Wesfarmers LPG is also building will be in full production by Feb 2008.

    Industrial & Safety

    Wesfarmers Industrial & Safety Division incorporates Blackwoods, Bullivants, Total Fasteners, Protector Alsafe, NZ Safety, Packaging House (NZ), Protector Alsafe NZ, and Blackwoods Paykels (NZ).
    The division comprises product categories including tools, hardware, safety, apparel, welding and abrasives, mechanical services, packaging and power transmission, safety, handling, lifting and rigging, material handling, lifting and rigging, fasteners, hoses and conveyors.

    Most of the Australian and New Zealand specialty businesses hold a leading market position in their respective category.[citation needed]

    The division operates from a network of 241 branches supported by large distribution centres, hundreds of external and internal sales resources as well as e-business, websites and telemarketing channels.


    Wesfarmers Insurance incorporates WFI, Lumley Insurance Australia, Lumley Special Vehicles, Lumley New Zealand and Your Insurance Group as well as three broking companies, OAMPS Insurance Brokers Ltd, OAMPS UK and Crombie Lockwood. It also operates two premium funding brands, Lumley Finance and Monument Premium Funding, and has majority ownership of insurance software developer, Koukia.
    WFI began as the insurance department of Westralian Farmers Co-operative in 1919, and in 1982 became its own company, wholly owned by Wesfarmers Limited. In 1991 it acquired Federation Insurance and became known as Wesfarmers Federation Insurance. It is predominantly a rural insurer, although since 1990 it has gained a commercial client base and also has a smaller domestic insurance business. WFI is one of few insurers offering Workers Compensation insurance in Western Australia. WFI has over 80 branches and in 2008 changed its positioning statement from We’re never far away to Good people to know.

    Your Insurance Group, a budget insurer, was acquired in 2007.

    Coles (Food, Liquor and Convenience) Division

    The Coles Division operates 2,231 food, liquor and convenience outlets through the majority of the former Coles Group brand assets. These include Coles, Pick ‘n Pay Hypermarkets and BI-LO Supermarkets, Liquorland, Liquorland Express, Vintage Cellars, Coles Express and 1st Choice Liquor Superstores.

    Other businesses

    Wesfarmers operates Target, Kmart, and other former Coles Group entities.
    Owns a 50% interest in Gresham Partners, a corporate finance business focused on mergers and acquisitions.
    Owns a 50% interest in Wespine Industries, a softwood sawmill operation at Dardanup, Western Australia.
    Owns a 50% interest in Loyalty Pacific, which operates the FlyBuys loyalty program.

  61. Hmmm…when the rivers drop, the water recedes, the rain stops, the muds all gone and people need to restock their hollowed out homes in Qld/NSW and now Vic…will Jerry ‘i piss a fortune up against the wall on race horses’ Harvey drop his prices for flood victims who stampede his stores with bright shiny new Insurance Cheques in hand?….no FXCKING WAY!!..”its SHOW TIME!” screams an excited Jerry!!

  62. Price competition is the last resort for most sensible retailers.

    They prefer to compete on factors like brand image, service, range, quality, exclusivity and support.

    These can be used to differentiate one store from another – people will pay more for great service or a brand name, choose to shop at the store where the staff are ‘like us’, choose ‘quality’ and ‘exclusive’ goods over mass producted guano…

    Retailers can position themselves alongside their competitors – each offering a different set of experiences.

    However once you start competing on price the only way is down.

    Where many Australian retailers have gone wrong is to neglect the factors that differentiate them in the interest of increasing profit margins and short-term returns to shareholders.

    They’ve cut their staff (and forget customer service training!), commoditised their products (most stockturns offers best margins) and dropped quality (if it were better made customers wouldn’t have to replace it every two years).

    Many have even stopped attempting to differentiate their brand image. What does Harvey Norman stand for?

    Instead many have focused on the holy dollar – the bottomline. Profit at any price.

    This has resulted in reduced ranges, reduced services and reduced quality. In some cases it has reduced prices as well – and it has raised shareholder profits – however it has destroyed their brand credibility utterly.

    Long-term this is a death spiral. Online suppliers, with no shopfronts and modern distribution systems, will beat to death many traditional retailers with their own bricks and mortar.

    The long-term outlook is poor for profits and poor for many’s survival.

    Retailers know that the GST isn’t charged on small purchases because it would cost the government money. It would increase taxes on everyone simply to cover the tax collection and enforcement work required.

    And it wouldn’t make online purchasing significantly less attractive, however it could slow the deflation of the retail bubble as some retailers stopped selling in Australia and some people, where price differences were a factor and the difference not too great, chose to return to shopfronts.

    Really, attempting to extend GST all the way down to those 0.58c books and lower is, at best, an attempt to slow down the tide. We’ve seen the same attempts in the media business in similar legalistic ways.

    They’re seeking to solve their immediate issue (consumers buying less stuff), push it back a few years and give them time to reinvent themselves.

    The real question, particularly for shareholders, is – why haven’t they begun this process already?

  63. There was I, about to label you an idiot, when you say something sensible, like:

    “A less polite way might be that they have traditionally been excremental piles of donkey turd which actively aim to prevent you from buying goods online, so that they can maintain their odious monopolies on selling goods to Australians at hilariously overinflated prices.”

    Caught me completely off-guard. You get paid to piss people off, right?

    It has nothing to do with GST, everything to do with the uneven playing field that Harvey and his mates have enjoyed for decades being tilted away from them before their eyes. They’ve had it too good for too long, and don’t like the idea of REAL competition.

    For example, arrived yesterday from Amazon, “WordPress for Business Bloggers”. Cover price US$39.99. Amazon price, US$34, plus freight $53 … for three other books as well. Actually, the price of all four books was US$111.79.

    Same book, “WordPress for Business Bloggers”, on A&R online site, AUD$110.95! Four books for the price of one!!

    What difference would GST make anyway? It would just make EVERYTHING more expensive. And if Harvey succeeds at getting the extra GST imposed on us, it will simply be an additional burden, and he will deservedly be vilified forevermore.

    What about all the lost retail jobs? I bet the world’s blacksmiths were really pissed at those new-fangled automobile thingies.

    So what else can people do for a living? The book title above should give you a clue. The world moves on, and the Gerry Harveys, if they have any sense, just fade away into the past.

  64. Let’s face it, the issue of a 10% GST on all imported goods is a smokescreen. For low dollar items the addition of an extra 10% is really not going to do much to the price of the item. (ie $5.00 plus 10% = $5.50). Plus let’s see the government try to collect it.

    The real issue is price disparity between buying many good locally and buying them from overseas, with or without the GST added. It’s easy to compare at the moment as the OZ dollar and the US dollar have been almost at parity for a while now. But even when this was not the and one allowed for exchange rates and such, it was easy to see how much we were getting ripped off on item purchased locally through stores like Mr Harvey’s and others. When something costs say the equivalent of AU$300 to buy from the USofA or the UK often including shipping, and the local price is is maybe AU$450 where is the fairness in that? Even adding the much hyped 10% GST still only makes it AU$330 to get from overseas. Software is a glaring example of this at times.

    Big retailers can’t blame shipping costs as they import items by the container loads so shipping on any individual item is meaningless. Sure they have rents, staff to pay and fancy shopfronts, but why should we pay for their fancy shopfronts? If they want to attract customers with bling it should come out of their profits not our pockets.

    Sorry Gerry and your friends, add your GST on imported items but you’re still going to lose out to overseas sellers with better prices and you’re not going to see a cent of that GST anyway. Bring your online retailing businesses into the 21st century and you might see people using them.

  65. So I just read the article and how timely…

    I’ve been looking at Harddrives and I found this great one on offer in Harvey Norman’s. I thought it was such a good deal that I went to order it. Could I find the order button? of course not because Harvey Norman is so far behind the times that they don’t have any sophistication in their site.

    The question now is, should we foot the bill for the lack of sophistication and ingenuity of our biggest retailers? Of course not!

    Gerry Harvey, by not establishing an online store is doing HIMSELF out of business. Sure the USA sites are cheaper, but if you’re not going to set up an online store and then complain that people are shopping at “Other” online outlets, then I think we should be handing a massive STFU to Gerry Harvey with a plague for “Wanker of the week”!

  66. This problem has only surfaced since the closing parity of the AUD between USD. It would have happened years ago, had the parity come then to.

    Tourism in Australia is taking a huge hit to. But then perhaps Australian tourism needs to also clean up it’s act because when I was last on Hamilton island, it seemed that the prices in Aussie dollars were taking into account an exchange rate from their predominantly overseas tourists, thus the local guy is getting screwed badly.

    Here is the rub that is causing all the grief.

    1/ ATO couldn’t be naffed trying to enforce GST on foreign retailers. It’s a pretty hard thing to enforce.
    2/ Fat cat aussie billionaires still want to keep their margins. This is impossible no matter what happens. It’s a global economy now, so suck it up biatches and do your job !
    3/ Any Federal Govt would certainly lose an election if it tried to enforce GST on online-buyers for their tax returns. Besides proving it is nigh impossible and would also send accounting costs through the roof.

    So the solution(s) may be this:

    1/ The fat cats are gonna have to “suck it up” and get competitive. Offer instore and online prices for products.

    2/ As transactions for all these things are electronic, the ATO could track them and then assign them to tax-payers when they submit their Tax returns. This would eliminate accountants doing it, and the burden is on the the Tax Payer to get an exemption, like justifying a “business purpose” for that iPod or something. But the cost to collect the tax may be far more expensive that what is collected.

  67. As I’m sure everyone else here has already said, the issue is not against paying an extra 10%. It’s that the lack of GST has been used as an argument to explain why Australian prices are higher than imports which in an overwhelming number of cases is patently false!
    In the vast majority of cases, the imported cost is anywhere between 20-75% cheaper than the cheapest local cost, even after including shipping!
    Case in point, I recently purchased a Saris Bones Bike Rack for my car weighing roughly 5Kg and it was half the price to buy and have it shipped to my door from the USA by Air than it was for me to buy from Australia! Without shipping, the item was almost 85% cheaper to buy in the USA!
    Australian price $329, US price $50!
    Adding GST will barely make a dent in the advantage of importing. The Bike rack would cost me $55 + $65 shipping instead of $50 +$65 Shipping.

    The import duty threshold was increased from $500 to $1000 for an unknown reason. I have no issues with it being reduced back to $500 (ie $50 GST) but I think anything lower than that will cost more in Administration cost than what is charged.

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