Canadian Dollar Continues to Surge, We Continue to Get Ripped Off at Retail

One of the realities of living in Canada is that we’re closely tied to the USA – we consume their TV, movies, books, music, etc. 99.99% of Canadian popular culture is identical to American popular culture. In other ways, we’re a curious mix: I think of height in inches, weight in pounds, but speed in KH/h and temperature in Celsius. As the Canadian dollar continues to surge past the value of the US dollar (this morning my bank Web site tells me that buying one Canadian dollar would cost $1.09 USD) the price disparity of many commercial goods becomes more glaring (and I become more depressed every time I see a US cheque with my name on it). You see, when we buy a book or magazine in Canada, there’s a price in US dollars and one in Canadian dollars. It never really changes, and all Canadians know they’re paying more than the currency difference indicates they should. But lately of course, things have flipped and now it’s just crazy to pay $9.99 CAD for a book that has a price of $6.99 USD on it. This is an email I sent to Amazon.ca this morning:

“I was wondering, now that the Canadian dollar is significantly stronger than the US dollar, when will Amazon adjust the prices of it’s products to reflect that? Especially books of course, because those have the highest pricing disparity. Canadians have been being ripped-off for years on the Canadian pricing of books, it’s only now that the disparity is so severe companies are being forced to act. When will Amazon?” 

I think to some degree Amazon has started to react to pricing: I checked the price of a few best-sellers, and Stephen Colbert’s “I Am America and So Can You” is $16.19 USD on Amazon.com but only $15 CAD on Amazon.ca. On the other hand, the book “You: Staying Young: is selling for $15.60 USD on Amazon.com, but $18.89 CAD on Amazon.ca. Other Canadian companies are starting to act: Indigo announced a 10-20% discount program, although that doesn’t seem nearly enough when the cover prices of books were already 30-40% off the true dollar value.

Anyone in Europe is no doubt already familiar with the realities of locally-adjusted pricing: the Euro and British Pound have been stronger than the US dollar for years, yet the prices of technology items rarely, if ever, reflect that. The VAT issue clouds the waters somewhat, but I doubt I could find a European happy with the prices they’re paying when they know how much it costs for an American to buy the same thing.

There’s a massive opportunity here for US companies: START SHIPPING TO CANADA. For years many US companies have refused to ship to Canada, but now that our dollar is kicking ass and taking names, companies that previously haven’t shipped to Canada (NewEgg for instance) or haven’t shipped certain products (Amazon.com won’t ship electronics to Canada) should be falling all over themselves to service the 30 million Canadians who now have a stronger dollar and are eager to shop for US products in US prices. Come on, bring it!

  • Hah. Check out the Amazon drone reply:

    “Thank you for writing to us at Amazon.ca. I’m sorry for any misunderstanding. Prices on Amazon.ca do not reflect prices on Amazon.com, regardless of the current exchange rate. While many of the items we offer on the Amazon.ca web site are also offered on Amazon.com, the prices of items offered on both sites may not be the same.

    Many factors in the Canadian marketplace, including what we pay to our own suppliers, affect the prices that we charge at any given time our customers on Amazon.ca. This may result in different prices on Amazon.ca and on Amazon.com for the same item. We are unable to match prices on our other web sites. However, you are certainly welcome to purchase from Amazon.com if you’d like. If you do decide to purchase from Amazon.com, note that international orders may be subject to international shipping charges as well as customs fees.

    Thank you for shopping at Amazon.ca.”

    In my original message to them, I never mentioned buying from Amazon.com, or price matching…unless of course this agent came and ready my blog entry. Hrm. That would be…interesting. 😀

  • The same thing is happening here in Australia at the moment. I just saw the Dell 24″ monitor in the USA is now US$470, or about AU$507. We pay $999 for it here.