Monday, 13 February 2006

Home team advantage

Everybody's asking me what my new job is, but I am not in the mood for any deep philosophical discussions at the moment. Suffice it to say my new career requires me to change my name to Buck Naked.
The new job will be in the city (Melbourne, that is) and as a part of my logistical preparations I am on the lookout for a new backpack that I can use for work.
My current work bag is a leather handbag my sister gave me after I graduated uni. It's nice and useful, but as I'll be taking the morning train soon I do not want to have to devote one of my hands to it for the entire commute. I do have several backpacks, but these range from the not so distinguished to the ones aimed at travelling and camera usage with lots of belts and whistles.
What I think I need at the moment is a bag I can carry some paperwork in, lunch, and a laptop if called upon. I don't foresee requiring a laptop soon, but I don't want to have yet another useless bag in the closet if I do end up having one.
According to Jo, the coolest bags that people want - in fact, what seem to be the coolest thing to own this side of an iPod Nano (the coolest thing to do is to jog on the beach with an iPod neatly velcroed to your wrist) - are bags made by this company called Crumpler. So I've had a look on the web to see what they have to offer a person as warm as me.
The first thing I learned was that size matters. While to my desktop affectionate eye all laptops seem the same, in the bag world you have to pay attention to whether you have a 12", 15" or 17" laptop. As I haven't seen a 12" laptop this side of a archaeological site, I think I'd go with the 15".
The second thing I noticed was the price. Those Crumplers are stupidly expensive, ranging between $220 to $250 over the web from Australian websites. But then came the observation that's the main piece of agenda on this blog entry: Through the USA you can get the same bags, after adding shipping costs and translating from to Australian Dollars, from as much as $100; the 15" that I'm currently aiming for is $150 - that's more than 30% less.
And the peak of stupidity about it is that Crumpler is an Australian brand. While it's probably all made in China, the notion that you can get it for much less in the USA than at its home country even after you pay for shipping reeks of rotten things in the kingdom of Denmark.
This is not the first time we've encountered Australians being anti Australian. Allow me to provide other examples:
About a year ago we've decided (ok, it was mainly a case of I've decided) that I want to buy the Cranium board game. If you've never heard of it look it up - it's a great one, and a lovely way to entertain the friends that we don't have enough of in Australia. Anyway, the cheapest place I could find the basic Australian version in Australia sold it for $60, with prices ranging
up to the $100 mark. While I may have been fine with $60, I wasn't after noticing it sells for $15 in the USA, albeit the American version. Alas, I could net get it through Amazon, because the f*ckers won't ship it out of the USA; I did, however, managed to get the premium version through eBay for $15 plus $30 for shipping. Still cheaper than buying here, and we even got the American version - and I am much more likely to know the 48th state's name than to know of some elusive cricket player.
Next on the list is Lonely Planet, the famous Melbourne based tour guidebooks company. I wanted to get this photography book of their; Aussie shops and websites had it for $75 while Amazon had it for $22.50 (just a slight 300% difference!); guess where I got it from?
But the biggest criminal of all is Qantas, the "Australian" airline. With them licking the right @rses they've pretty much established themselves as a monopoly on many international routes. As a result, a return flight from Israel to Melbourne would cost me around $2200, but the same thing from our way around would cost us $3000. And is with the other cases, the money does not go to some worthy cause - Qantas is a privately owned company, recently in the news mainly for wanting to cut back on its Australian workforce in favor of a cheaper international workforce.
I don't have an answer for this Australian way of abuse. All I can do is fight back, and luckily with the internet on my side I have all the information I need to be able to fight back (the problem is actually filtering the unwanted information).
But the bottom line is that I do not think very highly of these Australian companies cynically abusing their home team supporters.

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