British consumer watchdog group Consumers’ Association, publishers of
Which? magazines and books, on Wednesday announced that they’ve written to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) alleging that Apple may be unfairly pricing songs sold through the UK version of its iTunes Music Store. But they appear to be one of the few people who think so, if the comments of the organization’s own head of policy is any indication.
While Apple sells songs in Germany and France for €0.99, it sells songs in the UK for £0.79, or about €1.20. “Under European law UK consumers are supposed to enjoy the same benefits of the single market as other citizens of member states. However, the iTunes service is set up in a way that prevents UK consumers from taking advantage of the cheaper download service offered to the French and Germans — UK consumers need to have a registered address and payment mechanisms in France or Germany to access the service or pay the higher price charged in the UK,” said the group in a statement.
Consumers’ Association claims that the iTunes Music Store’s residency-based pricing goes “against the principles of the single market.”
Apple defends its pricing policy, explaining that pricing for its music is adjusted in each region depending on what the local economy will bear. “The underlying economic model in each country has an impact on how we price our track downloads. That’s not unusual, look at the price of CDs in the US versus the UK. We believe the real comparison to be made is with the price of other track downloads in the UK,” said Apple in a statement.
And indeed other music download services in the UK are charging more than iTunes does. Consumers’ Association head of policy Graham Vidler
told Reuters that the organization has no plans to investigate Apple’s more expensive competition.
“What we are saying is we believe iTunes could be made cheaper,” said Vidler. Vidler said he is not aware of any complaints from British consumers regarding the price of iTunes downloads.