Aussie retailer Harvey Norman launches offshore games site

Blames the local sales tax on the high cost of games in the local retail market.
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Aussie retailer Harvey Norman has launched a new offshore discount gaming site which will see Harvey Norman Ireland sell games to Australian consumers free of the Australian equivalent of VAT.

The move represents a surprising about face for a company which has repeatedly called for the application of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on imported goods. Australians can buy goods from overseas up to a value of AUD $1,000 before GST is payable.

The site at www.harveynormandirectimport.com is described as brining "the best global pricing to the Australian gaming customer."

"The gaming customer in Australia has been paying too much for years and we look forward to providing our
customers with a new cost effective offering," said Harvey Norman computers and comms boss Ben McIntosh.

While Harvey Norman has painted the issue as one of GST, the reality is that the 10 per cent sales tax barely accounts for the considerable disparity in pricing in Australia versus the rest of the developed world.

Nevertheless, the retailer produced a table of comparative pricing which included games such as Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 priced at AUD$62-63 compared to the AUD$89 from existing Australian retailers, savings of between $16 and $17.

It's not unusual to see games priced at around $100 in the Australian market such as the PS3 version of Skyrim, a game that can be had for around £30 in the UK, or around AUD$46.

The retailer pointedly did not criticise game publishers for the pricing disparity, possibly keen to avoid any repercussions for the produce sourced locally. That said, it remains to be seen how the publishers will respond to the blatant grey importing by one of Australia's largest retailers.

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