Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Update 15.10.2012

Looks like I made a mistake here also / mainly ?  as it was an Asus laptop that was on sale and I got an Acer Aspire. The situation started by me, also confused the sales staff, that did not see my mistake. The issue has now been resolved

Welcome to Pakenham TheGoodGuys


Loren W
Melbourne Australia

Is JB Hi-Fi Market Recovery Short Sighted?

I have to admit I read with some interest a recent article (worth a read) by Roger Montgomery, founder of Montgomery Investment, in the weekend Australian. His observation on JB Hi-Fi and the concealment of a more complex reality, though I admit I agree with, I believe missed a few key points, though some were touched on.

Firstly, the US and UK market and the majority of the online market unlike the Australian brick and mortar market, is not built on haggling.  This means that almost anyone walking into JB and making even the smallest of purchases can haggle their way to a lower price. This is starting to show its age. I cannot walk into an Apple store and haggle a price, though they also are seeing the light and offering to price match against the likes of JB Hi-Fi and others, adding to the market competition.

Price haggling in this way as JB and others do is a dying trend but one that falsifies Roberts own perspective on JB being higher than the US market on list price alone. The point you missed is that because the perception in some cases and reality in others and the advent of online business means a haggled price though the norm does not help with perception regardless. Consumers are more market research savvy than ever, and an item that is $400 at JB say a new tablet, might be 20% less online. For many consumers, it is not worth trying to haggle when you can buy even from the US and have an item delivered 10-15% cheaper (even though JB would might have matched it if asked). In regards, to competition Apple recently announced they would price match other retailers on their own products, making the competition even hotter, there. Finally there is the dreaded Moore’s Law impact which observes the speed the market changes due to the speed the underlying technology improves. This means with new technology coming out so fast it makes the previous items outdated faster than ever, that the level of inventory required (and a risk) and resulting impact on profits is not surprising going to take a massive hit.  In the last 3 weeks alone we have seen a new Operating System for Microsoft, and Apple; a new iPhone beater for Samsung, a new office suite for Microsoft, a new tablet by Google all being released and a rumored new iPod, iPad, and iPhone (and Samsung again) in the next 3 weeks.  This trend and speed to market has resulted in many of the JB Hi-Fi’s peers in the US and UK going bump and many others going online only to reduce their product overheads. Pricing is a mindset; when was the last time you walked into Coles and negotiated over a bottle of milk. This duality of looking for a better price online and not knowing for sure what the lowest price is in your own retailer is silly at best, or market suicide, and the times have changed.

I recently had a chat with an area sales rep for Canon Camera Australia, that I cornered when I found the latest camera the 7D, had an RRP of $2100 in Australia, $1700 in the US and $1200 in Hong Kong and a cost to JB for $1600 but I was able to purchase it from an importer across the street from Canon HQ in Victoria for $1300, with the full warranty supported globally by Canon (cheaper if you buy online direct) Previously some folks would not have supported the gray import warranty. Canon had a different view and does not use the ‘Gray import’ label instead opting for a ‘Parallel import’ label. Their view is simple and one that folks like JB have to be worried about. Canon’s view was that though the retailer in Australia might not like it, a market savvy consumer should not be punished for their purchase by not having their warranty supported. It was highlighted that this trend is growing and folks like JB Hi-Fi will not be the only ones impacted.

Instead of price deflation what Australia needs is honest price reality, so the lowest price is always offered. Expect to see many other stores impacted in the same way.

Loren is founder of and a self-proclaimed ‘technologist evangelist’, introducing new products and services for the likes of British Telecom UK (BT) and NEC Australia Japan, including business broadband for BT in 1994, and Data Centre Service for NEC.  He is a beta tester for Google, Microsoft, and Apple. His twitter followers (over 65,000) follow his views and blogs from all over the world He is contactable on twitter @mr_internet and on email at

So Easy to Fix- Consumers Not Aware How Much They are Being Overcharged For Home Internet

by Loren W
22 November 2011
Melbourne Australia


What’s the Deal

There are 2 Issues;

1. If you have had an Internet Service unchanged in 6 months or longer than you are likely over paying for your service, sometimes these costs are dramatically more than they should be.

2. Also worse you would have data usage that might go over your usage allowance, incurring excess charges that are very high, or degradation of service. This overcharging can be hundreds of dollars per month (not per year per month).


Why Now ?

With more and more videos and music in the cloud for us to download,  or upload, the world is downloading and uploading more than ever. In Australia we are no different but most are over paying for their Internet sometimes dramatically for years.

What Caused This?

Actually greed and the refusal to think outside the box by the Internet Service Providers, from a market perspective.

The problem has been ongoing for years but the overcharging was worsened in September 2010. At the time the wholesale cost of Internet dramatically reduced.  Internet Service providers big and small Telstra, Optus TPG, iiNet, etc. all faced the problem of how to maintain profits and revenue. When this happened to in the UK (I was working for British Telecom at the time), this actually put some smaller (and not very good) Internet providers out of business. I did some research on how you could offer existing customers lower prices proactively, and increase revenue as well, the US and UK adopted that pricing model, Australia did not.

The result of this is the monthly charge of the Home Broadband Internet Service you bought 1 year ago  has not changed but what you get for itis a fraction of what a new customer would get for the same price today.

‘It is like going to get fuel and there are no prices advertised, as everyone gets a different price for the same fuel depending when they signed their contract’. 

The practice is common.

Yet many Australians have not spent the 30 minutes it takes to sometimes save 50% or more by knowing what service they have, and adjusting their bandwidth appropriately. This means in most cases being able to call your existing supplier and letting them know from their website that new customers are paying less for their new service, than I am paying as an existing customer, can I please have my bandwidth upgraded to the current rate, or move to a new service etc. Most Internet providers will be happy to do this if you hint you prefer not to shop around.

Why So Serious ?
So, if the price is the same then do I care if my service is ok? Well it does not work that way, There are 2 scenarios,

1.  The amount of bandwidth you are using is more than your allowance was a year ago.

In that scenario, when you exceed your data allowance either your Internet speed will get really slow, or if you defaulted to pay for extra bandwidth, then you could be hit with extras more than your monthly bill (we are all downloading more than we did a year ago remember)

2.  You might not be using all your data allowance so the plan you have is right, or you bought a new plan in the last 6 months, then you might be fine.

What To Do ?

1.  This is all so easy, check your bill online to see what your service is you are paying for (something like a 25GB plan on ADSL with or without telephone bundled in for $xx per month ),

2.  Go to the website of your current Internet Provider, or call them if you have to, and see what the comparable product is today.

3.   Phone your ISP and get that lower price.

4. Check a website like and see what broadband services you can get in your area from others. Your ISP might be overcharging  everyone.

Why is a Smaller ISP Potentially so Much Cheaper than a Big ISP like Bigpond/Telstra

There are a few reasons for this;

1. Financial Overhead Cost Allocation – FOCA this means in a big company they allocate costs to the service you buy, that cover part of the parent company costs

2. Ease  – It is easier to let customers over pay on services than to update them, if they are unhappy and you have been proactive they might leave (customer churn)

3. Greed – Let’s face it if consumers are happy (or blinded) to not know the right questions to ask, then why lower your prices.

How Can they Get by With This

1. Smoke and Mirrors – The Internet is a commodity like gas or electric (and just as important for many of us), yet ISPs still make it a bit confusing when ordering a service. If you know what you want then it is easier, if you need advice, it is sometimes so forthcoming. If you know what you want but the ISP has a better deal they might not always offer it as it might not be the most profitable service they they offer.

The Bad News

If you have incurred any excess charges for your Internet service and again you have had a service unchanged for some time, then the lack of proactivity by your Internet Provider could have meant you paid higher prices as a result, sometimes twice as much as you regular rent.

Example 1: My friend has been on BigPond for 2 years they are paying $90 for a 25GB download internet and phone bundle. Today for that same price other Internet Providers are offering 500GB or an unlimited service. This a difference of 20 x not a small amount

Example 2: By friend in on an Internet Service that charges excess (pay as you go) when you exceed your otherwise allowed usage). These charges have been a lot,  and going on for some time. On further review it turns out a new service would have a huge difference in the data allowed, but because the customer does not know this and their ISP Telstra did not tell them they could upgrade for free, the result was the customer having regular $200 and $400 in over charges bills for a $60 per month service.

Here Telstra failed to disclose to the customer by not being upfront on pricing, that the customer could upgrade for free and save $200-$400 per month in excess charges also to Telstra. I suggested a pert call to Telstra on this lack of Duty of Disclosure Issue before sending a letter to the Ombudsman,  Telstra was happy to change the plan and credit the yet unpaid $400 in excess fees.

Recently is was reported that many Australians are planning to look at changing  Telcos in 2012.
Not a big surprise.

Why Don’t More Consumers Upgrade or Move

It was recently reported that only 16% of Australians will move or upgrade their mobile phone plans, due to the perceived complexity of doing so.
The excess customers are paying on their mobile service is often a fraction of what they are being over charged for their home Internet connections.

Moving an Internet Connection can be more complicated as with mobile phones you can often keep your number, with home Internet consumers lose their email address from their ISP, this requires a lot more preparation, ahead of time like moving all their Email to gmail or their own domain name so the loss of their ISP email address is transparent.

This is not widely known, so ISPs will often use this to get customers to stay, almost bullying them into staying.

Not All Bad News

Internet Providers like TPG and others are offering unlimited Internet to many areas for $60 per month

What about the ACCC – Austraila Competition & Consumer Comission

If all of this is true (it is) then surely the Australian Government would act ?

Hmm, This seemed obvious to me, if you are being overcharged or have a complaint, about Internet Services then the ACCC will act.
Recently they acted against one of the few ISPs actually doing a good job and that is TPG. TPG offers unlimited Internet Services for $29.99 per month (plus a $30 phone), or $59.99 per month without (the same price either way). The ACCC took exception to TPG as they were not being as upfront about the phone cost. Silly really.

So I raised a complaint to the ACCC about the ACCC on this (more to prove the point and raise the issue formally). My point was simple they investigate singular acts of consumer problems what about the widespread fact that most customers do not know they are getting over charged then paying for these over charges with yes more overcharges.

The ACCC was clear on this, (and very polite) they do not regulate an industry,specfically on their web site here  they say The ACCC does not regulate voluntary industry codes of conduct, only individual complaints. I understand I worked closely with OFCOM, in the United Kingdom for the better part of a decade on these same issues. OFCOM did try to regulate  an industry and not very well. However, some folks did not overcharge the customer the way Australians are being over charged.

What Now?

If nothing else the ACCC  should add this information to their website, on this page for instance . But I think it needs a show like a current affair to look at this as it is so blatant and a topic they covered recently on mobile phones that is nothing compared to this.

Twitter: @mr_internet

Note: Loren is a 17 year veteran of the Internet Community, and introduced Business broadband in the UK in 1998  for British Telecom and has been evangelizing and introducing new products and Services on the Internet / Cloud / and Online Services in Australia for the last 6 years. since. His blogs and twitter following is around 10,000 at any time (8700 on twitter alone)

The Drama of Living in an Australian Fibre ‘Only’ Connected Community.

Melbourne Australia
8 November 2011

by Loren

I recently spent some time helping a friend of mine build a new house in Melbourne. At the end of it all came managing the telecommunications aspect (my specialty). The bottom line of it all was this.

A new community of hundreds of homes, the developer in Point Cook, Melbourne chose Opticom vs. Telstra to provide connectivity for IPTV including Internet.

The hypothetical upside is the whole area has fibre. The downside, the whole area has no copper; the fibre is managed by the developer that has set themselves up as ISP and they are offering a high price for a poor product (they are contending the product so the product is the same as DSL but at 400% of the price).

This means they are offering 12mb for $200 per month with 100GB download. I currently pay $60 for unlimited download via TPG.

Calls to try and get any copper or alternative seem to be fruitless thus far. The next route, includes local MP, and Telstra might be able to offer help via thorough cost analysis, and then it might be down to a class action law suit, not just in Melbourne but nationally, a mess at best.

So will it be any different with the NBN. I spoke to them recently with all of this in mind, they were vague but my understanding (needs to be verified) is it could happen again if another developer was to do what this developer did with Opticom.

The developer said the only role Opticom apparently had here was offering an infrastructure, where Telstra refused.

I suggested to the developer that they are trying to get their money out of their investment (customers) too fast, not the right sort of ROI. This is falling on deaf ears so far.


6 September 2011

Tech-News.TV (coming soon)
Melbourne Australia
by Loren Wiener (@mr_internet)


Samsung to Be Eventual Winner



Whilst Apple fights Samsung across the globe, on tablet patents, many tablet manufacturers like Motorola (Googorola) Toshiba, Acer, Asus, HP, RIM are all hoping to gain some benefit here in Australia.  Samsung will likely win and Motorola lose for a few reasons.

1) Apple patent wins will at best,  just delay the Samsung selling of their tablets. Remember Motorola also has injunctions against them.  It is not likely a totoal coincidence that the patent wars are going on leading up to the announcemnet in the next few days of the iPhone5.

2) Samsung marketing machine, though not great is better than any of the others on the market

3) Previous versions of Samsung tablets have been sold in Australia for some time, they already have a large presence not just in tablets, but mobiles, televisions and home appliances. The product awareness offers a big association for other products like tablets as they are sold at the same retailers as well as carriers.

4) Samsung products have been offered for some time unlocked, offering more choices for consumers to choose their own carrier, this carries over to the tablets.

Motorola To Be Biggest Loser


1) Samsung network for selling tablets is much larger than others, more retailers and carriers than Motorola.

2) Other tablet suppliers have strong market associations in the marketplace / market share, Blackberry (RIM)- Mobiles, Toshiba/Asus/Acer/HP (Computers). Though the recent HP position confuses things.

3) Motorola New Relationship with Google with take time to gain momentum. Remember Google is a company that sells advertising. Google is NOT experienced in selling hardware product.

30 September is an important date currently in the patent wars, when it is believe Samsung will be allowed to sell their new tablet  in Australia.

Vodafone Customers Still in the Dark Over Missing Vodafone orders

Ahead of the USA and UK, launch, Australia Phone carrier Vodafone exclusively launched with Samsung their latest Google Android tablet computer , the Galaxy Tab version 2 / 10.1v Tablet  (or P7100 for short).  Besides the new Hardware it offers one of the first looks at the new Android Honeycomb 3.0 Operating System.

Competitor to Apple that sells the market leading iPad2, Google has multiple partners making many tablets of various sizes. This is the first of many companies that are making new tablets over the next few months. Due to market size, quite often Australia will get these devices after the USA.

The new Samsung Tablet runs the much anticipated 3.0 Android Honeycomb Operating System, viewed by google as the only Tablet Operating system.

With bit of razzmatazz the initial sale of the tablet from Vodafone, with  limited to sales only by telephone  limited amounts of inventory were also delegated to a small list of Vodafone retail shops,

For 2 days the initial phone orders, Vodafone promised that customers’ orders would not be backordered and they had plenty of stock, 48 hours later,   staff even verified stock levels  if asked when you ordered, mine was for example  in stock and immediately allocated coming from the warehouse in NSW and confirmed for delivery for today.

  • The problem came , when it came to fulfil orders,  the amount of stock drastically differed from those available, (stolen or misallocated who knows)
  • So instead of shipping the orders in the order they were taken even when confirmed as in stock and allocated, some customers that had units confirmed as shipping and in stock at order will not get them for weeks, and have not been notified as they do not know which customers to notify. They claim my query showed the problem for the first time (maybe)
  • Unless they call in or manually check on all orders ??
  • I asked if I was going to be notified or customers like me, and was told they did not think it was a mess.
  • Vodafone said loads of folks will be impacted but sure how many, I spoke to a level 2 sales person, after being hung up on a few times trying to check my order, (they said just give it another day or so and I said can you just verify it shipped, click hung up 3 times.
  • When I called to check order levels initially on this when this happened I was told there was stock, 20 minutes later I was told there are now back orders.
  • In Summary, customers expecting orders should phone and confirm if they shipped, I would have been waiting for weeks (luckily I have another one coming from a less official source)