Importing GPS units from the USA

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 10:15
ThreadID: 3794 Views:4239 Replies:10 FollowUps:20
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We have been around this one a number of times before. (See posts 2273, 2437, 2475, 2715, 2854, 3113, 3504, 3678.) But here is the result of my recent inquiries and experience.

Australia prices for GPS units are amazingly high compared to US. Here are some examples:
- Magellan SporTrak Pro: Aust retail $A849; in USA, $US220 (about $A365 at present) at www.compuplus.com
- Magellan Meridian Platinum: Aust retail $949; $US249 (about $A405) at compuplus.
(There is also a cashback offer from Magellan, but only available to Nth American residents.) Accessories are cheaper in the US also.

The equivalent Garmin mapping models from the USA can't be adapted to Australia (except by Garmin themselves, which costs heaps), but most of the Magellans can. The US basemaps on the higher-level Meridian or SporTrak models can be replaced with Australian ones, which are available for download for free - see the FAQs in the Files section of the Yahoo Magellan Meridian group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Magellan_Meridian). Procedure and basemaps are the same for Meridians Gold/Platinum/Marine and Sportrak Pro. (Does not apply to base model Meridian Yellow/Green or to SporTrak Map which have only 2Mb basemaps; these basemaps are not available. Not sure about top-of-the-range Meridian Color.)

Both the SporTrak and Meridian series are highly regarded: see the reviews at http://gpsinformation.net. They work well even with a limited view of the sky (e.g. on windscreen of vehicle) or under heavy cloud cover. Small and light enough for bushwalking, boating, cycling, etc, also. Don't need an external antenna.

But before getting too excited, note the traps below.

Many of the cheapest US suppliers do not ship internationally; one that does is www.mall24-7.com. Also worth looking at www.ebay.com.au for US suppliers that ship to Australia.

I recently ordered a Magellan SporTrak from Mall 24-7. In Australia it sells for around $550. In the US, it was $US146. They recommended courier - $US38. (Big mistake as it turned out.) Total $US184, billed to credit card as $A316.72. So far so good.

Here is the catch. When it arrived, I got slugged Customs entry fee ($52), Customs duty and GST - total of $101.42. Landed total $418.14. But still well ahead of retail.

Rang Customs (1300 363 263). They were actually quite helpful. (Wish I had contacted them before ordering.) They said that the duty, GST, etc was payable, because sent by courier. If it had been sent by mail, charges would have been waived.

Here are the rules:
- Courier consignments: If the value of the consignment is more than $A250, the goods must be entered for Customs (which costs about $52 and is done by the courier company). Full customs duty @ 5% of the purchase price is imposed. On top of that is GST @ 10%, imposed on the total of purchase price, freight, insurance and duty. There is no waiver for small totals.
- Consignments by post: For items sent by post, no entry for Customs is required if the value is less than $A1000. Duty (@5%) and GST (@10%) are still payable, unless the total due is less than $A50 - if so it is waived. As indicated, the totals for my GPS for customs duty and GST were $A48.67, so would have been waived had the item been posted.

The same rules apply whether the goods are new or 2nd hand.

So, to take an example, suppose you order a GPS for $US175. Assume postage (i.e. mail, not courier) is $US30. Sent by mail, there is no customs entry charge, and the total of duty and GST would be less than $A50, so you pay nothing extra. The same GPS unit sent by courier incurs over $100 in taxes and charges.

For units above about $US175 (at present rates), duty and GST are payable, because they will total more than $A50. However if sent by mail rather than courier, you will not incur customs entry charge (about $50) if the consignment is under $A1000.

A number of people have said that they have imported GPS units by post and have not been assessed for duty and GST at all. I guess you might be lucky, but you should not assume you will be.

Arranging for the item to be falsely described as a "gift" - as some have advocated - is an offence.

Not sure what the rules are if you go to the US and bring it back with you.

So as a rough indication of the import costs, take the popular Magellan Meridian Gold. Assume it is posted, not sent by courier. Mall24-7 price is $US239 (say $A400). Add say $US30 (say $A50) postage. Duty would be $A400 @ 5% = $20. GST is levied on the total including duty and postage (ie $400 purchase + $50 postage + $20 duty = $470) @ 10% = $47. Since duty and GST in total ($20 + $47) exceed $50, no waiver. Therefore the landed cost would be $400 + $50 + $20 + $47 = $517. Change the basemap to Australia and you have a product that retails in Australia for about $859.

If you want detailed maps to the Meridian, you would need to add:
- an SD card. These cards are non-proprietary and readily available from computer/camera shops in various sizes (typical prices: $84 for 64Mb or $143 for 128Mb). (The SporTrak Pro on the other hand comes with 32Mb of memory built in, but you can't add memory to it. The basemap takes up about 8Mb of that.)
- Magellan's MapSend CD, with its outdated maps at the extortionate price of about $135 per State. (The Americans get the whole of the USA for less than that.) MapSend CDs are occasionally available for auction at Ebay.

Hema are about to release the Great Desert Treks map series in a form that can be uploaded to Magellan models. Not sure whether you need MapSend first. Hopefully other 3rd party maps will follow.

Hope this helps someone!
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Reply By: Member - Bob - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 10:44

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 10:44
Des, thanks for sharing that very useful informatio with us. I hope you don't mind if I use your information far and wide.
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Follow Up By: Member - Des - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 11:46

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 11:46
Not at all Bob. You're welcome.

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Reply By: Truckster - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 11:12

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 11:12
Many of the cheapest US suppliers do not ship internationally; one that does is www.mall24-7.com.

You dont think there is only one that ships to Australia? on the magellan list as you know, there are more people importing from USA lately than buying here, and why not! They are all using different stores.

It maybe an offence to mark it as a gift, but millions of rich people get away with things daily, why shouldnt I for once?

Another way around it is to have it unpacked, and shipped as 'used'.. Put the SD card in it, batteries etc.. Then post the packaging snail mail...

Another thing, Magellan have international Warranty, Im not sure but was told Garmin dont.. anyone know?


Good post though!
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Reply By: Member - Des - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 11:57

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 11:57
I forgot to add that the SporTrak and Meridian models have WAAS enabled. For use in Australia, it is recommended that you turn it off.

Here is the relevant extract from the Yahoo Meridian newsgroup FAQs (highly recommended reading):

"WAAS stands for Wide Area Augmentation System. This system is still experimental. The Meridian can pick up special WAAS satellites (shown by a "W" on the satellite screen) which transmits various correction factors. There are several ground stations in the US which pick up the GPS signals and calculate these correction factors. If you can pick up a WAAS signal, are relatively close to a ground station, and are in the open (no overhead obstructions), then WAAS may improve accuracy. Sometimes WAAS has been known to decrease accuracy. Turning WAAS off will at least insure more consistent accuracy, and may even help to improve battery life (WAAS calculations take a lot of processing power).

To turn off WAAS, with the Meridian turned off, hold down GOTO and NAV and tap the PWR button. In a couple of seconds you should see a box pop up with "00" inside of it. At this point, release GOTO and NAV. Use the direction pad to change the "00" to a "03" and then press ENTER. A few boxes should pop up. Press ENTER to turn a "YES" to a "NO" (all boxes will change simultaneously). You may need to use the three-finger salute (simultaneously GOTO, ESC, and ENTER) to get the unit to turn off. Then, when you turn it back on the WAAS satellites should not be visible in the satellite screen. Note that the boot screen will still say "WAAS.""
AnswerID: 14935

Follow Up By: Member - Des - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 15:43

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 15:43
I should point out that this is an "undocumented feature". Don't expect any support from Magellan if it goes wrong!

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Reply By: ExplorOz Team - David - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 12:04

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 12:04
OK it is time for our input into this issue.

We are now taking on Magellan product in the Adventure shop and yesterday had a meeting with them. It would appear that IF YOU PURCHASE A MAGELLAN UNIT FROM OS AND IMPORT IT INTO AUSTRALIA THEN UPDATE THE BASE MAPS YOURSELVES YOU ARE IN BREACH OF LICENSE. Magellan does not allow for the replacement of the base maps to be done legally so if this is available from the user groups or anywhere else you are doing it ILLEGALLY.

The full Australian base map is only meant to be written by Magellan head office and if you import a cheaper unit from OS they charge you $300 to perform the base map load.

So to highlight again:

UPDATING THE BASE MAP YOURSELF IS A BREECH OF MAGELLANS LICENSE AND IS ILLEGAL.

Be aware of what you are doing, if you do it hopefully you will never need to have it serviced as they can track this by serial number.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
AnswerID: 14938

Follow Up By: Member - Des - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 12:51

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 12:51
I think you have made the point very explicitly David! Clearly people change the basemaps at their own risk, in terms of the licensing agreement.

I imagine that anyone who did so would restore the original basemap before taking the unit in for service! But do Magellan say that if someone breaches the software licence, Magellan are at liberty to dishonour all their warranty obligations?

I would also assume that Magellan will honour their warranty obligations regardless of where the unit is purchased. If someone buys a GPS from you, and it breaks down on a trip to Europe, surely Magellan will fix it in Europe? Similarly, if someone buys from the US, Magellan here would fix the unit under warranty?
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 13:11

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 13:11
Des,

I have requested a response from Magellan to the issue and will post it when we receive it.

We have decided to take on the Magellan product in the shop however we cannot compete with the US shops as the prices you seem to be able to get the units for in the US is better than we can get from Magellan locally.

I guess it all comes down to the ability of local businesses to compete in the market. Everyone says lets support local business and Australia, then on the other hand lets go shopping in the US for products that we can get locally. I understand the cost issues, however do we need to boost the US economy or should we try to help local businesses who after all employ most of us.

Personally I never buy product from another country if I can get it locally even if there is a price difference. I would prefer to support the Australian businesses even if it costs me a little more.

I do not mind if you choose to buy from the US this is just my point of view and I do not want to start a forum war about this issue either, I will leave that up to the US to start the wars, I just know that it will not be my few hundred bucks that helps them.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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FollowupID: 9037

Follow Up By: Member - Des - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 13:53

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 13:53
Thanks David.

On your point about not donating to the US. Suppose I buy a GPS in Aust for $600, instead of $300 in the US. Assuming Australian retail margins are broadly similar to the US, who gets the great bulk of the extra $300? The American manufacturer. Instead of pocketing say $200 on the US sale, they pocket say $400 on the Aust sale. Where is the Aussie nationalism in that?

The real problem is that Australian businesses and consumers are being screwed by multinational companies.

Why do GPS manufacturers set their wholesale prices in Australia at excessive levels? A: Because they can, using their licensing controls to discourage or prevent parallel imports. It is the same story with books, CDs, software, electronics, you name it. I support Australian businesses - if the prices are roughly comparable, even 20% higher, I would always buy in Australia. But when the difference is so great, what choice do we have but to look overseas?
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 15:36

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 15:36
No argument on that - I have been advised by Magellan the we will be expecting a formal response from the Australian General Manager so lets wait and see what comes from that.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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Follow Up By: John - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 19:13

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 19:13
I HAVE PURCHASES A MAGELLAN PLATINUM FROM OVERSEAS.
WITH IT I ALSO PURCHASES A WORLD BASE MAP CD.
I INTEND TO UPDATEIT WITH THE AUSTRALIAN BASEMAP .\THIS IS A MAGELLAN PRDUCT CD, SURELY THIS IS LEGAL.
AND THE CD WAS ALSO HALF THE AUSTRALIAN COST.
JOHN
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 19:19

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 19:19
As mentioned we are waiting on the answer from Magellan however there is no CD available on the market that will update the BASEMAP. You can load maps into the unit of course however the base map is not meant to be accessible to anyone to update other than Magellan.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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Follow Up By: Member - Des - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 12:30

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 12:30
"there is no CD available on the market that will update the BASEMAP"

David, perhaps by "update" you mean replace the basemap without Magellan's permission, but that is not what John wants to do. If you are suggesting that you can't legally put an Australian basemap on a US-sourced Magellan GPS, then (with the greatest respect) I think you are mistaken there.

What John is proposing to do, as I understand it, is to load a basemap of Australia from Magellan's MapSend WorldWide Basemap CD onto a Meridian that has a built-in US basemap. That is perfectly proper - in fact that is just what the MapSend WorldWide Basemap CD is for. The idea of that CD is to allow users in countries around the world to load additional basemaps (and add detailed street-level maps if desired) for other countries that they will be travelling to (assuming they have sufficient space in the unit's memory). The user can then add detailed street maps for anywhere in the world. They can toggle between the built-in basemap that comes with the unit and whatever basemap they have loaded from MapSend WorldWide. The built-in basemap isn't deleted or changed in any way.

To prevent piracy, the WorldWide CD must be registered with Magellan, and then it is tied to a specific GPS, based on the serial number.

Take an example. Suppose John was an American (sorry mate, it's just hypothetical!) who bought his Meridian Platinum GPS (with built-in US basemap) in the US. He wants to visit Australia and bring his GPS. He buys the MapSend WorldWide Basemap CD. He can load a basemap for Australia from that CD onto the GPS, and make it the default basemap. If he wants to, he can then buy one or more MapSend Streets CDs (@$135 per State!!) for each State he is visiting, load them, and they will work with the Australian basemap from the WorldWide CD. When he goes home, he just selects the US basemap as the default again.

So if anyone is squeamish about breaching the licensing agreement by replacing the built-in basemap on their SporTrak Pro or Meridian Gold/Marine/Platinum/Color, or worried about jeopardising their warranty, they can buy the Mapsend WorldWide Basemap CD and load a database for Australia from it, perfectly legitimately.

The only catch is that the MapSend WorldWide Basemap CD costs about $US95 (say $A160 + postage) in the USA or (gasp!) $A285 in Australia. As John says, it is roughly half the cost in the US. What does the price difference for that CD tell you about Magellan?
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 12:44

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 12:44
Yeah that is what I was saying, you cannot overload the factory BASEMAP you can load additional maps along side the basemap - No arguements about this at all. Maybe I should have said replace and not update - however you cannot update the BASEMAP you can only add to it so we are both correct I guess. I am not trying to argue this please do not take it this way. I am trying to highlight an issue, that Magellan brought to my attention. If I use the wrong gramatical word then sorry but can we wait for the feedback from Magellan.

I have done everyting I can to get this information to Magellen and pass onto the forum the information I get back from Magelan do not shoot the messenger.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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Reply By: Member - Chris - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 12:19

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 12:19
Good report Des. As the Truckster and I have said earlier, purchasing from e-stores like mall-27 is a cheaper option. I chose the e-map for price and functionality and found that it is a good unit and I accepted the base map issue. OzeExplorer works fine with it and I'm not going to use it to find streets in town.

I also chose snail mail and paid less than A$30 for postage and it arrived on my door within 2 weeks of leaving the US.

I have found that accessories such as cables and mounts are cheaper from e-stores here, but that's not to say a more dedicated surfer has had different experience.

I had no issues with customs either, and the package had been opened and inspected by them.

So, the moral here is, I reckon, surf - check the prices and above all caveat emptor!!
AnswerID: 14940

Follow Up By: Member - Des - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 14:36

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 14:36
Chris, you have probably focussed on Garmin brand accessories for your eMap - they don't have the mark-up in Australia that the Magellan ones do.

I agree about the value of price comparison, especially for things like cigarette lighter cables, data cables and antennas, for which non-brand alternatives are available. Sites like GPS Oz, Global Pos and Johnny Appleseed are worth a look.

For buying items in the US, there are sites that provide price comparisons for particular products. You can turn up a selection of them by using a meta-searcher like Vivisimo and searching for the name of the product (say, Magellan Meridian GPS) and "price comparison". Saves a lot of time.

(Sorry if I am stating the obvious, but it might help someone who is new to this kind of search.)

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Reply By: Truckster - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 15:55

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 15:55
David.. good to see your onto Magellan.. Now if they drop their prices 50% they may get some customers. I can see that happening as much as George Bomber Bush stopping his mission to control the planet.

But even if it is illegal to change basemaps, chances of getting caught are about 203948029348029384029834029834092834092348.1.. How would you get caught?

And for $500 in my pocket, thats worth it. Nothing against you or your business, I hope you do well out of them, they are very well liked around the place (I now have a Benefon Esc), But I cant see people changing saying Oh goody, I can pay 2ice the price and have aussie basemaps...

Also what happens if you buy one LEGALLY duty Free on holidays o/s??

Magallan going to screw you $100's to change the base map? I'll download it now, and the step by step instructions and store them for later I think!
AnswerID: 14959

Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 17:04

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 17:04
Could be a good idea. Basically according to Magellan if you get one OS and take it to them to fix the base maps you will have to pay $300 regardless of how or why you purchased it.

As stated I have no objection to people buying O/S I just have to cover my bases and ensure that people are aware that what they may be doing is illegal. I expect the Magellan email shortly and you can be sure this will be posted.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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Follow Up By: John - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 19:59

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 19:59
Thanks Des
you are spot on. I have purchases the world map to add to my GPS.
I have purchases a Magellan Platinum, world map CD, 12 votl adapter and Computer cable, car bracket and protective cover and will be delivered to my door for a total of $700.
Its all I can afford.not the $1500 AU
John
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Follow Up By: Member - Des - Friday, Mar 14, 2003 at 10:08

Friday, Mar 14, 2003 at 10:08
Good on you John.

Let us all know how it works out - Customs, how you find the WorldWide Basemap, etc.

I'd be curious to know whether the basemap for Australia on that CD is the same as the basemap built in to units sold in Australia.
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Follow Up By: John - Saturday, Mar 22, 2003 at 20:19

Saturday, Mar 22, 2003 at 20:19
Hi truckster. any photos of your storage system. john
where can I get the step by step instructions to instal australian base map.
John
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Follow Up By: Truckster - Saturday, Mar 22, 2003 at 22:39

Saturday, Mar 22, 2003 at 22:39
John, yes I have some.... whats your email addy, mail me vfr750fv@yahoo.com with details, and I'll post them.

take care.
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Reply By: Drew - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 17:48

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 17:48
I have just bought one (Meridian) from eBay and would not have bought one at all except the price $279, plus $12.50 UPS shipping made it viable. I have since bought an SD card and card reader, along with swivel mount and AC adaptor locally at pretty fair prices. I cant fathom the difference in price, paying an Australian company more for the warm and fuzzy feelings. The internet has made this possible and will continue to do so. Global products available globally. We all need to get used to it. Some of the accessory prices we 4wders pay are crazy. I support Davids online shop for books and maps and the like and hope others do as well. I also support my ability to buy a great product at a great price and have it delivered 3 days later. Keep up the good work David, can I have a piccy of my cruiser in all my posts too?

AnswerID: 14974

Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 19:23

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 19:23
Is that Drew - Member Drew if you are then you can add your signature in the red member bar select My Profile and update the signature with the text you want displayed. Then go to the My Rig option to upload your pictures and enter your rig information. If not Member Drew then you will have to part with your $30 for this little feature.Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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Reply By: awill4x4 - Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 23:16

Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003 at 23:16
There is no question in my mind that the prices here in Oz are a product of any of Magellan's re sellers.
I've had contacts with a few Magellan stockists and unfortunately with the prices they are charged from the Magellan distributor in W/Aust they simply can't compete with the prices people can buy direct from the USA.
It's a pity they cant simply do the same themselves and then resell at a more reasonable price here in Oz. I realise that if anyone tried to do this commercially then the Oz distributor would sue 1st and ask question later.
I'm sure the high prices here are a direct result of Magellan Oz charging what they feel the market will bear. I don't know for certain, but I assume that Magellan Oz is a wholely owned subsidiary of Thales Magellan in the USA. If this isn't the case then all the profiteering is down to the Australian distributor. I bought my Magellan
Platinum from the USA, changed the basemap and am very happy with the unit. At the end of the day a price nearly half of what was being charged here in Oz was the deciding factor.
Regards Andrew.
AnswerID: 15026

Reply By: StephenF - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 10:13

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 10:13
Maybe someone should send this thread to the Australian distributor to let them know what we think of their predatory pricing policy. There are more people than ever now enjoying the experience of touring this country, perhaps for the first time. Retiring baby boomers have money in their pockets and don't mind spending some of it on "gadgets" to make their touring easier.

However, the price of GPS units in this country is a disgrace. There is absolutely no way to justify charging TWICE the price for a unit which needs no modifications, apart from changing the base map on mapping units, to work in Australia.

I'll be buying a GPS unit later this year, so I await Exploroz' prices with interest. I don't mind paying a premium to support local businesses, but it hurts when I know that a couple of hundred dollars is being creamed off as pure profit somewhere up the chain.

Stephen.
AnswerID: 15049

Follow Up By: Member - Wazza - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 13:42

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 13:42
And at twice the price, if you have warranty issues, you can just 'buy another one' and still be no worse off.Cheers,
Wazza
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Follow Up By: Truckster - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 23:38

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 23:38
Theres a whole forum of 100's of people that Magellan would have to be on, they would know about it, they are a big bizzo, but their care factor=0 as you see by their $300 to change basemaps????

What if I buy duty free on a holiday? legit? I get screwed $300 + freight, + oh it got lost in the mail +...........

no thanks
www.navicache.com for more links on GPS stuff, *hint* basemaps
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz Team - David - Friday, Mar 14, 2003 at 12:00

Friday, Mar 14, 2003 at 12:00
Stephen this thread has been seen by Magellan and I am waiting on a response which I have been told is coming from the General Manager. Thanks for the vote of support - all I want for our readers and shoppers is to be able to offer you these products at a good price. This is why I am trying to get the information to and from magallen as I cannot buy the units from them at anywhere near the prices you can source the things from OS. We will put the products up soon however I am really trying to get the pricing sorted out as per this thread. There is significant shop maint to do to get it all loaded and I do not want to do all the work only to have everyone then go and get the units OS. We also want to be able to offer our usual Member Money discounts and free freight. Regards
ExplorOz Team - David
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Always working, not enough travelling ;-)
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FollowupID: 9222

Reply By: Member - Des - Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 11:19

Thursday, Mar 13, 2003 at 11:19
I agree Stephen. Thales Magellan and its subsidiary in Australia presumably using licensing controls to prohibit Aust retailers like David & Michelle from buying wholesale in the USA (i.e. parallel importing). So the Aust retailers have an unfair competitive disadvantage. I wonder whether that is legal under US or Australian competition law? Maybe it is a matter for the ACCC, or the US FTC?

I have heard the argument that Magellan needs to charge more in Australia to pay for its preparation of Australian basemaps and its Australian distributor support network. (Garmin presumably use the same argument.)

There are several answers that give the lie to that one:
1. Australia is a large market for the population. We are big per capita users of GPS units. Magellan and Garmin dominate the market. It must be very profitable for them. It is a classic duopoly. If they had any real competition (e.g. from the Korean, Taiwanese or Japanese electronics manufacturers) their pricing would change immediately.
2. It can't be that expensive to maintain Magellan's network. It's only one office in Perth after all. Can't possibly justify the difference in price. (Garmin don't even have a network in Australia. They use GME as distributor.)
3. Magellan (and Garmin) maintain distribution and servicing networks in other countries without the same level of predatory pricing.
4. Preparing and maintaining the Australian basemaps can't be that expensive either. It is not as though they have hundreds of people scouring the Outback every day! Magellan's maps are way out of date (and I understand that the same is true of Garmin); I suspect they have simply bought the data and never done any field revisions.
5. If doing the basemaps is sooo expensive, they could sell the units without the basemaps (at US prices) and sell the basemaps separately. Then they could try to directly defend the pricing for the basemaps. (I'd like to see that!)
6. Magellan and Garmin make additional huge margins on the street-level maps sold separately from the GPS units.
7. Other companies like Hema do much better maps in digital form for reasonable prices and still make a profit. If Magellan (or Garmin) don't want to do the basemaps (or street level maps), let someone else do them.
8. The same huge margins are imposed on units that don't have any Australian basemaps. The SporTrak I got from the USA doesn't have an Australian basemap, just the same basic (1MB) worldwide one that is supplied on those sold in Australia. There is no other basemap available for it. (I couldn't breach the licensing agreement even if I wanted to!) My unit is absolutely identical to the model sold in Australia. So why is it twice the price here? (The same goes for non-mapping units, e.g. Garmin eTrex or GPS 72.) This is absolute proof that the cost of Australian basemaps has got nothing whatsoever to do with the extortionate pricing.
AnswerID: 15057

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