European Commission probes charges that Apple iTunes Music Store is ‘ripping off’ UK consumers

“The European Commission (EC) has confirmed it is looking into allegations that Apple’s iTunes Music Store discriminates against UK consumers by charging them more to download the same song than it charges other European music buyers,” Tony Smith reports for The Register. “Some British iTunes users have slammed the differential pricing as yet another example of ‘rip-off Britain.'”

“Apple’s pricing policy was brought to the EC’s attention in December 2004 by the UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT), which was itself made aware of the situation by British consumer group ‘Which?’ In the UK, the iTunes Music Store charges customers 79p (€1.14) to download a single track. The same song costs €0.99 when it’s downloaded from Apple’s other European music shops,” Smith reports. “Apple can, of course, charge what it likes, and while UK consumers might be annoyed at the price differential, there’s little they can do but complain about it. Or go and buy songs from, say, ITMS’ French outlet. However, Apple doesn’t permit them to do so. That’s the real issue,” Smith explains.

Full article here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
European Commission to probe charge that Apple is ‘ripping off’ UK iTunes Music Store customers – December 03, 2004
UK’s Office of Fair Trading investigates Apple’s iTunes for ‘anti-competitive practices’ – September 15, 2004

22 Comments

  1. For the sake of discussion, let’s presume Apple has good reason for this pricing. I’d rather with hold judgement and get some facts before everyone jumps in with lots of screaming and yelling. Anyone out there can shead some light on this. Thanks.

  2. A standard €0.99 in other EU stores is unfair too, VAT (sales tax) rates vary from country to country so even though they all pay €0.99 they are actually paying different amounts.

  3. Right, as Tony Smith points out at The Register:

    Apple can, of course, charge what it likes, and while UK consumers might be annoyed at the price differential, there’s little they can do but complain about it. Or go and buy songs from, say, ITMS’ French outlet. However, Apple doesn’t permit them to do so.

    That’s the real issue: is Apple’s refusal to allow cross-border shopping in contravention of European Union laws enacted to ensure the free movement of goods and services between member states.

    The point isn’t that the UK store is more expensive (although that is still annoying, it’s tough titties), it’s that UK users aren’t allowed to buy from the French store, and that breaks EU regulations.

  4. Hello!!!! has anyone considered that the Britisch Music industry is demanding these prices? Apples biggest obstacle for a global iTunes are all the different rights in each country. CDs and DVDs are also more expensive in the UK than in Mainland Europe (generally everything costs more in the UK)

  5. RTFA. As the author says, the issue here is not that tracks cost more, with or without the different national rates of VAT/sales tax, in different parts of the EU. It is that the iTunes stores are set up to block a UK resident from buying the same track from another (e.g the French) store. I can use my UK credit card in a physical record shop in France, and in other contexts (such as buying books) I can use it on other French websites. I am also by extension blocked from buying French releases (which I may well be able to buy as “imports” in a physical specialised outlet in the UK).

    So I suspect that the EU will rule against the present iTunes structure, to enable EU residents to buy from any outlet and in any EU currency, which will not I suspect upset Apple, but may (RTFA, again) bring the issue of the record industry’s different licensing conditions into the firing line.

  6. The reason for the pricing….is the “digits” 99 sounds better than say 68. It’s just marketing. You know that 99¢ is not the same as it is in British Currency. It brings that to ₤.51. It is not exactly pretty and a terrible marketing number.

  7. Weren’t there separate stores because Apple had to cut separate deals with the record labels of each country? Doesn’t this mean that Apple could not let the UK shoppers buy at the French store even if they wanted to?

    I just wish they would hurry up and get a Japan ITMS, even if they charge a little more.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.