I find it a bit disturbing when a product from a foreign vendor is priced in pounds, particularly when the price isn’t just a conversion from the original price but is showing as a logical price in pounds. I first came across this in June 2008 and wrote about it in a previous blog but it seems to be becoming more common.
In the first case I found that PC tools was just converting a dollar price straight to pounds, so a product price of $29.95 became £29.95 for British buyers. At the time the exchange rate was nearly 2 dollars to the pound so PC tools was asking British customers to pay nearly twice as much as US customers.
The sites that do this generally use your IP address to determine which country you are coming from. Fortunately there are a number of free proxy servers available, like proxify or freeproxyserver.net which allow you to mask your real IP address. Doing this means that the website thinks you come from the country where the proxy server is hosted rather than your own country.
But there is a catch of course, both of these proxy servers have US IP addresses, so the website you are visiting will think that you are in the USA too. To get around this you can visit Public Proxy Servers to find lists of servers in different countries. It is interesting to try a few different countries to see what affect it has on the website you are visiting.
I use a nice little Firefox addon called Flagfox which displays a little flag in the address bar showing you which country the server is located in. Of course the location of the server isn’t always significant, all my websites are for UK businesses but they are hosted in the USA because I use Hostgator as my hosting provider. But for this purpose it can be useful.
I was looking at Macrium Reflect disk imaging software and noticed that the price displayed was £19.99, not a bad price but I wondered what other people would be charged. If you come from the USA they charge $39.99 or from Germany €29.99. I’m sure that when Macrium (who seem to be UK based but whose server is in Germany) set these prices they made sense but in a world of rapidly changing exchange rates they just can’t keep up. In this case the pound has plunged far enough to make any other currency look quite expensive (at least at the time of writing in Feb 2009).
The lesson, as always is Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware! But at least we have the tools available to check out the options in just a few minutes without moving from our desks, isn’t the internet a wonderful invention?