For any avid British shopper, the phrase “rip-off Britain” is a familiar term. Its used to refer to the price disparity between products in the UK and US. Complaints from customers on sites like ReviewBird about the price difference of goods like computers in the country compared to the US is nothing new.
So are computers actually cheaper across the pond?
The short answer is yes. Computer stores in the UK have higher prices compared to the US and many other countries abroad. The term “rip-off Britain” was made popular by Brits on holiday in the US who bought goods for a far cheaper price compared to what they got at home. The price disparity is made even more obvious for tech products in general and not just computers.
For example, Sony’s Playstation was released at $399 in the US. While the relatively cheap price was good news for gamers in the US and many countries around the world, it wasn’t happy sailing for Brits as the console cost 349 pounds in the UK which is the equivalent of $546.
This huge disparity has become expected on this side of the Atlantic. So what exactly causes the price difference in computers and other goods?
Reasons for “Rip-off Britain”
Tax is the primary factor in why computers are more expensive in the UK compared to the US. In the US, the sales tax on a good varies between states and is added to the headline price.
In the UK on the other hand, there is a 20% VAT charge included in the price you see. Even after VAT taxes are considered, there is still a considerable price gap in lots of computers.
Another reason for this price gap is the import duties attached to goods shipped to the UK. Many of the popular computer brands don’t manufacture in the UK so import duties will be attached to the goods due to shipping cost and other expenses. This obviously doesn’t apply to Americans because a lot of computer brands produce locally.
On the other hand, Sony’s head of PR David Wilson attributes the price disparity to the cost of doing business in the UK. According to him, operating in the UK and lots of European countries is more logistically challenging hence the selling price of goods reflect the cost of operations.
Finally, smart gadgets may be more expensive in the UK due to currency exchange. Many goods are sold on the market in dollars before being shipped to the UK and due to the instability of the British currency because of Brexit and inflation, computers can now be as much as 20% more expensive.
Many British customers resort to buying their computers abroad and shipping them over instead of paying the retail price available in stores in the UK. Many theories and reasons for the price difference have been speculated, however, despite the reason, there doesn’t seem to be a change to the situation in sight.