Canadians are Getting Screwed

Since returning to Canada, I’ve been struck by two things: how expensive some items are, and how willing Canadians seem to be to endure unfair pricing. The Canadian dollar’s near-par value with the US dollar seems to be largely unreflected in the prices of goods.

That’s not to say that merchants aren’t facing some pressure – I’ve seen a number of large stores with explanatory signs that try to hand-wave away the differences in US and Canadian prices. Merchants are trying to position the problem as one of inventory, and differing costs of doing business. The idea is that the merchant may have bought the goods at a time when the Canadian dollar was weaker, and hence the price reflects the exchange rate at that time.

This all sound plausible until confronted with cases to the contrary. Case in point: the latest version of Microsoft Office for Mac. On the US Apple store, the price for the software is $149.99 USD, whereas on the Canadian Apple store the price is $199.99 CDN. Given that the software was only released in January, the “we’ve got inventory” defense doesn’t really seem to apply. And given that both products are identical, and both are probably drop-shipped from a DVD duplication plant in China (hence subject to the same shipping costs, although Apple offers free shipping from both sites), that only leaves differences in import duty to explain the difference. And I hardly think that a CD has a 33% duty applied to it.

Come on Canucks, get a bit angry and start giving vendors an earful. It’s the only way things will change.