UK Tech Rip-Off: Why Some Products Cost Hundreds More In Britain

Tech Is Still Pretty Much A Rip-Off In The UK
Ruslan Olinchuk via Getty Images

Buying tech in the UK is -- surprise, surprise -- still pretty much a rip-off.

Which? compared the prices, excluding tax, of 13 identical products ranging from televisions and gaming consoles to desktop applications and security software and found UK consumers are paying more than they would in the US.

The price difference of some items, calculated on June 18, ran to hundreds of pounds.

The consumer group found:

  • A Samsung television was £402 more expensive in the UK
  • Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch laptop cost £194 more here than in the US.
  • Microsoft Xbox One and the Sony PlayStation 4 were both £57 more expensive here.
  • 12-month subscription to the imaging software Adobe Creative Cloud costs £114 more here than in the US.
  • Microsoft Office Professional digital software cost £236 in the US compared to £325 in the UK, a price difference of £89.

Maybe that's why the UK is becoming less interested in keeping up with the latest tech trends? Samsung reported this week that the average "tech spend" in the UK over the last three months is £218 - less than half that of Italy, and one of the lowest in Europe.

Which? advised consumers to consider buying digital products in-store where possible, as items such as Microsoft Office were sold by the company at a fixed price but physical versions were sold by numerous retailers and more likely to be discounted.

The watchdog has called on manufacturers to "play fair" and explain why technology products are more expensive in the UK in comparison with the US.

It is also calling on the government to raise the current threshold for import duty on goods bought online to the same level as that placed on goods brought back from abroad to allow shoppers to take advantage of cheaper items on sale in the US.

The current threshold for customs duty for technology products bought online from a country outside the EU is £135, but travellers can bring home goods worth up to £390 without having to pay duty.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: "UK consumers are getting a raw deal by paying up to hundreds of pounds more for the same tech products on sale in the US.

"Manufacturers should play fair and explain why consumers are paying more for buying in the UK."

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