Thursday, August 02, 2007

Price transparency weirdness

One of the things that the introduction of the Euro means is that it is now much easier to compare prices across much of the EU when you are shopping - particularly internet shopping. Finland is clearly an expensive country, particularly as salaries are lower than the old EU member state average, whilst taxes are a bit higher than average. But sometimes you feel that some shops must just think we are just stupid. I've been looking at getting a digital SLR camera, the Canon EOS 400D is one that many recommend. Now obviously if you shop around you should be able to find the best price - but why would one company sell it at different prices in different countries? I've found the camera for sale on the site of a big trans-European electronics firm based in France, Pixmania, but I first saw it on their UK section. On the Canon is GBP 469, which is EUR 697.05. So then I looked at the Finnish bit of the site, where the camera is EUR 779. Strength of the pound allowing Japanese cameras to be bought with sterling for less or something like that, perhaps? Err... no, because if you buy it from the German bit of Pixmania site its only EUR 699.

What's up with that then? I could imagine that it might cost a bit more in postage to get it to Finland, but why should the base price for the same product be EUR 80 higher just so you can read the website page in a different language? Or maybe its because that product is selling locally in Finland for EUR 775 and they think Finns are too dumb to check outside of their home market? I haven't checked if the German bit of the site would ship to a Finnish address, the UK section only seemed to be for delivery within the UK - although I'm sure that must contravene some EU common market competition regulation...

Moan moan, and the government are making booze more expensive again, moan moan, and it'll be winter again soon.


jussi said...

Firstly, Germany collects a 16% VAT whilst Finland collects 22%.

Secondly, the tariff for imported cameras may differ within the two countries. Optics in particular have a high tariff, I can't remember how cameras are.

Thirdly, finnish people seem to think that pretty much everything that you buy outside Finland is somehow damaged or of a lesser quality. This fact is successfully exploited by local dealers.

And finally you can get the body for under 600 from Germany. ;)

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

I don't think there can be a tarrif issue because the camera isn't coming from Japan, its coming from France - so within the single market. I wonder as well if they are registered company in Finland? Because if not you pay whatever VAT the country you are buying from charges: i.e. if you buy from Finland some climbing kit from a webshop in the UK, you pay British VAT - 17.5%. So unless somehow you really are buying from a Finnish shop that just happens to be called Pixmania, then could the VAT be different? I don't think so... So you final explanation still rings true!

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

And would you recommend getting just the body and going straight for an ultrawide zoom like you suggested earlier? Rather than starting with the standard 18-50 or whatever the 'kit' lens is?

Jussi said...

Like you said it depends on where you're buying from, but I think the VAT is still 22% on the finnish Pixmania site. The higher finnish VAT was a source for some debate a year or two ago as finnish authorities were trying to force german webshops with a lot of finnish customers to start collecting 22% VAT instead of 16%.

Looks like getting the body with the kit lens will set you back around 50€ more than just getting the body, so I'd get the kit lens and then buy the ultrwide. Mind you that with lenses you usually get what you pay for.

Henkka said...

Toby, the retailer has to pay according to the Finnish VAT (no matter where in the EU they are based), if they deliver/sell more stuff annually than about 17000 € to Finland (I might be incorrect about the exact value, but it's in that ball park).

As for lenses, well if you're shooting bouldering or from stances, and ultrawide is often the way to go (I shoot mainly w/ a 14mm, ie. effectively a 21mm lens for old 35mm film camera). Also stepping up from the kit lens might be a good idea. Something like the Tamron 17-50/2.8 is about one of the best lenses in that "category", then add a true wideangle and possibly a longer tele(zoom).