Are We Being Completely Ripped Off? (On Paracetamol, Kaffir Leaves, Baked Beans, Bike Accessories and Other Items)

A couple of years ago, I was working in Laos and this cafe I used to like to go for breakfast had these interesting chairs. They were these thick cardboard barrels with Azithromycin written on the side, 60kg. I realised I was sitting on an empty container of paracetamol (or panadol). I should explain a bit further - over there you can walk into a pharmacy and buy one pill (which most people do), but I didn't realise the scale of it. For instance one 500mg paracetemol might cost 80 Kip, which is less than a cent.

Curious I started digging around using the package number and was astounded to learn you could buy one of the barrels from India for about $100. That's for 60kg!!! Think about that the next time you pick up 24 tablets of panadol for $5 - the exact same chemical. In fact I found out the home brand sold by supermarkets here is made in the same factory.

If a recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves you can buy about six of them for 4 bucks at the supermarket. Have you ever seen a kaffir lime tree? - there's a reason it's called a tree, at that going rate a kaffir lime tree is worth say $50k !!! Wtf? If you need kaffir lime leaves it's better to go down to the nursery and buy one tree for $10.

And the list goes on and on. $2.50 for a can of baked beans? When I was in England 15 years ago you could buy a tin for a few pence, now they're like a pound each. If you have ever cooked beans yourself a handful of them will make about 4 to 5 tins.

Not to mention that it is incredibly suspicious that these supermarkets are routinely having half price sales. In order to do that, what sort of price gouging are they doing at the normal price? I've never worked it out, except to notice that one week it's Coles, the next week Woolworths, then IGA get their turn. Without fail.

And the final insult - a struggling bicycle shop a minutes walk from my house. I needed an adaptor for a pump to inflate a tire. They pull out this box with hundreds of little steel adaptors and ask for 10 bucks for one adaptor. I mean I want to support local business but not outright thievery. I looked online and you could buy the exact same box for about $3 (250 adaptors). The shop shut down not long after.

Anyhow please share your stories of what you perceive as blatant ripoffs.



            @khomeini: My S10E autocorrect is stuffed and I dont know how to reset the autocorrect memory back to factory. But I appreciate the fixes.

            Yea, Porsche clearly makes a big profit on their aussie cars and they dont want anything disrupting it.

      • -1 vote

        This post is completely incorrect. Australia is one of the most liberal market economies in the world - we rank fourth on the Index of Economic Freedom with only Singapore, Hong Kong (which will be dropping down soon due to Chinese Government interference) and New Zealand being above us. Porsche charge a metric ton because that's what the local market will bear - and there's nothing wrong with that.


          What a naive understanding of Australian pricing.


          So your logic is that say Apple come here and decide to sell their phones at $4000 because people would pay for it that that is okay?
          My take on this question is ethics involved, I believe that is unethical considering equivalent costs of it in comparative countries.

          I give an example of a Porsche….
          Australia and New Zealand do not have a local car industry… Sad but true, and so are in exactly the same boat. Their local dollars are nearly the same, costing to ship and compliance/conversion is roughly the same…. However the pricing between one here is about 30% more. (Their market is smaller too).
          It's pure greed and what they can get away with.
          (I'll leave govt policy it of it but our govt salty has a big part to play regarding double taxes - they also see a cash cow and want to cash in)

          It seems you're implying we shouldn't call it out.
          I posit that we absolutely should!


      He wouldn't be the only one. It's almost funny how we all have to play this game, yet 99% of us don't even have a basic grasp of the rules.

  • +19 votes

    You can say most of that about anything.
    Why buy a dozen eggs when you can get a chicken to lay them?
    Why get take out when you can make your own for 1/4 of the price?
    Why drive your car when walking is free?

    It all comes down to supply, demand and convenience.
    Supply - you need to farm a lot of Lime trees to make a profit from that. I'm pretty sure those would be hand picked as well so intensive farming.
    Demand - If you want the bike parts now, you go to a store. If there is low demand, get them off the internet and save (and wait)
    onvenience - Do I really want to spend an hour cooking 1kg of beans when I can pick up a can at the store.

    A couple of things to note:

    • Not everyone has the room to grow a tree, even if you do, there is time/money spent looking after it.
    • What is that time worth?
    • Pretty sure a tin of beans 15 years ago would have been more than a few pence anyway. Maybe you're thinking of 50 years ago.
    • Colesworth doing discounts - Not everything they sell gets the same margin. they discount selected items to get you into store to purchase other items, as does practically any store - Apple discount their computers so you purchase the accessories.
      As well as that, prices have to include rent/wages/loss/marketing/insurance/lawyers etc. So when they sell a $2.50 tin of beans and make (I'm guessing here) $1 on the cost price, they need to sell a lot of tins to make that money back.
    • Not arguing against internet shopping, but it will be the death of many small businesses as many can't source their goods for those prices. It's all very well to tell them they have to adapt, but many of their expenses are fixed If they have to adapt, it's probably at the expense of wages, number of employees or service. So don't be surprised if those stores disappear.
    • -9 votes

      You had me until you mentioned apple discounting their computers. What dystopian world are you referring to?

      Also the same argument you're making was played out decades ago when weekend trading hours were introduced. What about the poor convenience stores? Having to pay a dollar for a moldy potato. I'm bloody glad they're gone, they were parasites.

      Perhaps I'm simple, but if you're making $1 per tin, then every tin makes you a dollar - it doesn't matter how many you sell. Besides, if you look into it, it only costs a couple of cents to can a product, and when you're buying beans in tonnes - $2.50 is extortion. I'd estimate product costs would be in the region of about 6 cents. Tack on overheads and it would be generous to say 25 cents would be a fair price. Instead they are asking you to pay 100 times that amount. And as a further insult, they use there revenue power to stop producers who might want to sell it cheaper.

      • +5 votes

        I'd estimate product costs would be in the region of about 6 cents. Tack on overheads and it would be generous to say 25 cents would be a fair price.

        Show your working? I'll invest in your bean production company if it checks out.

        PS. I can get Aussie-made baked beans at Coles for $1.40 per 425g tin, or 3 tins of home brand (Italian) for $2 - that's 66.6…c per can.

      • +3 votes

        Once again, there is more to cost than you're showing. Just because you can produce beans for 25 cents a can doesn't mean that it's a feasible production/sales model. How many cans can you make a day before needing more land/staff?

        Sure, if a farmer cans it themselves and sells it roadside, you may be right.
        But, the farmer has to pay all their expenses too, so they sell it to a distributor for a higher price. The distributer has to pay for staff, storage, transport, merchandising, insurance etc, so they sell it to the store at a higher price. The store has to pay for rent, wages, insurance etc. so they sell it to you at the price you see. Each step along the way has to make profit, otherwise the whole business is pointless.

        Don't want to pay the price? Grow your own.
        If people are not purchasing, then they would have to charge less. The fact that people are purchasing at those prices shows that they are an acceptable price.

        By the way Apple do many discounts - educational, enterprise, pricematching when appropriate. Do you think when JB discount their Apple devices by 10% that Apple don't have something to do with that? Trust me, JB don't make much off Apple computers and make the money when you purchase accessories with it. It is a tactic called Loss-leading.

      • +3 votes

        You're absolutely talking out of your ass. You seem to have very little clue when it comes to production/distribution/retails logistics and costs.

  • +6 votes

    You can get 100 paracetamols for about a dollar at any chemist. 60 cents if you wait for a deal.

    When you buy in bulk, you get things cheaper.

      • +4 votes

        You just don’t understand manufacturing, compliance, wages, freight, GST, bills and more.

        Go on, import your pills and make a tidy profit if it’s that easy.


    The days of the supermarket easy profits are limited. Amazon wants to deliver all groceries to all areas one day and once that market is opened up to to marketplace sellers then it's only a matter of time before you can buy all this stuff much closer to the actual cost. Plus whatever it costs to ship it to Australian distribution centers in the first place. Amazon cuts out the middleman by becoming the only middleman, if they can help it.

    • +1 vote

      Surely the Amazon model contains a lot of hidden costs (i.e. transport, packaging) that is built into their prices (or added on if you are not a subscriber - at additional $).
      The convenience of being able to select fresh fruit, vegetables, milk, along with canned goods, frozen goods, even a t-shirt and a pair of undies, all from the one physical store, will keep Coles and Woolies going to some extent.
      I'm sure they will take a profit hit, and they may rationalise the number of stores etc., but they will continue to exist for sure.

      • +1 vote

        No, I think it is Coles and Woolies ability to delivery within an hour all of these things you mention to the immediate surrounding suburbs is what will give them a future as brands. A distribution center in the middle of a suburb isn't as profitable as one in cheaper industrial districts though. But Woolies and Coles are everywhere and they can build more if they ever need to. So I wouldn't count them out yet, their present 20th century business model I think is something I wouldn't invest in personally.

  • +4 votes

    Think about that the next time you pick up 24 tablets of panadol for $5

    Convenience comes at a cost - just because somewhere charges $5 for 24 panadol doesn't mean you should pay it

    You can buy 100 panamax tablets on special for 69c, or less than a cent each


      Yes as Australia's we choose to be ripped off. We're happy to pay more for a product that is essentially identical but has the brand name panadol.


    over there you can walk into a pharmacy and buy one pill

    You can walk into a 711 in Australia and buy just one pill too…..

    • +2 votes

      The blue pill or the red pill?


        Was looking for this comment. Which colour pill did OP choose again? It's been a while since the original release.

  • +4 votes

    I don't think we're being ripped off, I think we're too dumb to know we can get things for a lot cheaper. Maybe we know, but we're too focused on our immediate convenience rather than the cost.

  • +15 votes

    I can get 1000 litres of water delivered to a tap in my house for less than $5. Yet at the local shop I'd be lucky to get a 1 litre bottle for that price. Such a rip off considering I have to pick it up.

    • +2 votes

      Or you could collect it from the sky

    • +1 vote

      Even your water company is ripping you off at $5 a kilolitre

      • +1 vote

        Good example, most people don't realise bottled water is simply tap water. When coke tried to release their new bottled water in the UK, they were pumping from the Thames, they attempted to apply the same model as they use for their fizzy drinks; i.e. supplying a 'secret' recipe to bottle manufacturers, and let them do all the hard work. So they'd ship this 'minerals' to make mineral water. Filters didn't work as planned - and Coke pulled the plug as people became sick. It was a fiasco.

        • +1 vote

          Generalisation there, bottled water is not neccesarily tap water. Mount Franklin aka the most common generally available bottled water is a spring water not derived from the tap.

          Of course, there are many types of bottled water and many of them are in fact just tap but this doesn't mean they all are.

          Not saying they still aren't overpriced, but it's good to make the distinction.


      People who pay for bottled water…

  • +5 votes

    This is skirting really close to conspiracy theories.

    OP should do some research on importing the stuff, along with tariffs, storage costs, transport costs and paying employees over here in Australia.


      It’s much easier having a rant, cherry picking like a shadow minister with no skin in the game.

      But agree, if anyone is truly serious, they ought to look at ways to get it done economically to benefit society. Otherwise talk is cheap.

  • +13 votes

    You can buy a cattle property in the NT for $50/ha and yet land in Sydney would cost you around $30,000,000/ha. What a rip off!

  • +2 votes

    I remember arriving in England and getting cans of peaches in the supermarket for 8 pence (20c), cans of baked beans for around the same, and a 10 pack of jam donuts for 1 pound. Ah the memories…


    Brought a Magnum ice cream from a milkbar in Malaysia recently for around a dollar. Good luck finding that here.


      You can often get 4 packs for around $4 at supermarkets - not as convenient but still good value

  • +3 votes

    Often, we only have ourselves to blame.

    For example, I know someone who takes quite a lot of Neurofen (probably more than he should). 24 tablets of 200mg Neurofen costs $5.90. I pointed out to him that it's just ibuprofen, a generic medicine, and that he can buy 24 tablets of generic ibuprofen for $1.49 in the same store. Nope, he refuses to buy the cheaper product as he thinks it doesn't work as well.

    If we, as consumers, changed our spending habits then manufacturers and retailers would have to change.

    Who pays $2.50 for a can of baked beans? They're $0.65 every day in most supermarkets. $1 if you buy organic. Also beware of comparing wholesale prices at the point of manufacture to the final retail price after shipping, storage, and retailing. No one in their right mind would sell individual paracetamol tablets for one cent here.


      and that he can buy 24 tablets of generic ibuprofen for $1.49 in the same store. Nope, he refuses to buy the cheaper product as he thinks it doesn't work as well.

      There are a lot of people like that. I know some that will only take Panadol and not the generic paracetamol version.

      Could be marketing or maybe they like the 'safety' of buying brand named drugs? Not sure.

  • +1 vote

    Not really sure what your point is.

    Australia- high property costs, high minimum wage, socialised medicine, groceries are expensive, social security… these are all VERY expensive… so I assume Laos has a MUCH higher standard of living vs us guys who are getting ripped off constantly?

    I just checked- Laos is 115th on a prosperity index- Australia 16th.

    As has been pointed out many times on this thread already… if you have cracked the code, lets get this imported and posted as a deal on Ozbargain, we are all tight arses. Your millions await, good luck.

  • +2 votes

    Is there any cashback?

    • +2 votes

      I'll put it to Tightarse, we might be able to arrange something.

  • +10 votes

    What an amazing observation, you can get things cheaper if you buy in bulk, and businesses won't sell you products fore the same price they source them for. Incredible.

    • -10 votes

      Welcome to your bubble. You should find it comfortable, if not expensive. You won't need to think critically. Banish those complex thoughts! Sit back and peer down the news pipe, or better still watch a donkey peer down the news pipe and interpret his expressions.

      Just kidding. If you haven't already realised, I'm railing against anti-competitive practises. Ask yourself why a farmer who does all the hard work gets 30c per kilo for potatoes for example. Does it really seem fair that supermarkets are charging $4 a kilo? Even with their all haloed overheads - most people would say this is unreasonable and pure greed and leveraging their massive revenues to screw the producers over.

      I'd happily pay $4 a kilo if say $3 was going directly to the farmers, and chip in a dollar for the retailers time and effort. The whole point is that this doesn't happen. You've got this shitty situation where the people who do all the hard work are screwed over, while the people who decide their livelihood from their lofty high table cast their scraps on the floor.

      • +2 votes

        You have the option of buying the potatoes from the farmer, you can pay them $1 a kg, and sell them for $2 a kg. Never mind the transport costs, storage costs, costs of running the business, employees, rent etc.

        Go for it, let us know how it goes. I'll buy your $2 potatoes.


          $8-12 for a 20kg bag of small white potato direct from a grower at the moment. Just have to buy a few tons at a time.

          • +1 vote

            @stringbean402: Give op the details, he can begin his charitable potato sales venture.

      • +1 vote

        The whole point is that this doesn't happen.

        It does.

        You don't hear about them anymore as they've gone bankrupt.

      • +4 votes

        Ask yourself why a farmer who does all the hard work gets 30c per kilo for potatoes for example. Does it really seem fair that supermarkets are charging $4 a kilo?

        The farmer doesn't freight said potato in a network of trucks, store it in an enormous warehouse, stock it on shelves in a gigantic nationwide chain of supermarkets, train and pay checkout operators, and technicians, and security guards, and cleaners, and accountants, and…

        If the farmer doesn't like it, the farmer can open a supermarket. If the farmer doesn't want to accept 30c per kilo, they can say no, they can find an alternative buyer, and if they can't do that, they can do literally anything else. Nobody forced them to grow potatoes.

        At the same time, there's nothing stopping you from driving all the way out to potato country and saying "Hey, Farmer. Here's three bucks for a kilo of spuds."

        You don't though, do you? I wonder why.

      • +1 vote

        You do realise farmers still profit with 30c a KG as they will sell tons of it to the ‘distributor/broker’. I don’t think farmers are interested in transporting, packaging and marketing their potato’s.

        We are literally talking economies of scale here. Oh my let’s not get into professional services either. What is the cost of a lawyer or accountant providing their services to you, is it electricity and enough food and water so they can survive the x amount of hours to complete the task?


    I didn't know a lot about Laos (and still don't), but it looks like it's one of the poorest and oppressively governed places in East Asia.
    According to this graph, our GDP (per person) is 22 times theirs ( )

    Enough people have proven the concepts of cost of overheads and quality of life, etc - I'm just (quietly) bemused that someone's picked one of the poorest places on Earth to make some sort of economic comparison. This is like saying "Sure cheetahs are pretty fast, but it's nuts how much faster they are than snails, how does that even make sense?"


      I see what you mean - but you are aware I'd hope that fuel pretty much costs the same wherever you are in the world. And filling a shipping container and sending it around the world is a fairly trivial cost. If you're a beer drinker for instance, you can buy a crate of European beer, often for cheaper than the locally produced ones.

      If you purchase the exact same product - except for shipping - it's the same price whether you are in Laos or Australia. Yes there are probably regulatory costs you have to account for. So apart from that - just forget about Laos - I only brought it up because it was where I first noticed it.

      The cheetah vs the snail comment is disingenuous, but funny nevertheless. Perhaps you could rig the race? Make the snail wins? Lol!!!


        We're sort of mixing apples and oranges here, however. Fuel isn't a type of product that changes price based on the level of development, "packaging" or quality of materials - there's a global price for a barrel of oil, some processing and there's the fuel that runs your car, no matter what continent you're on. It's very different from a gigantic metal drum of various white pills that are labelled "aspirin" versus the Chemist Warehouse blister pack of 20. The latter item has a higher implied level of quality control in it. This is why baby formula was being bought up (at Australian $$$ prices) and shipped back to China 2 years back in such massive quantities - Chinese people were sick (often literally) of paying less for baby formula but getting a tampered product (because it was being cut with any white powder that was available to bulk out the mix, which had fatal results). Foreign importers prefer Australian/English labelling on our exported products for these very reasons - they know we're dropping the $ on quality control, etc.

        Local beer is more expensive than imported European beer because of economies of scale, mainly.

        Don't get me wrong, we have an 'Australia tax' on some things [digital purchases are a classic example of this - Adobe software and iTunes songs, being digital files, costing 30%+ more for us, mainly because that's what we're willing to pay (as a society overall)] - but the effect isn't as pronounced as the Laos vs Australia lifestyle.

  • +1 vote

    Random side-rant about medications: Generic is usually much much cheaper than branded. For example, the ever popular 69c box of 100 panamax from chemist warehouse also works out to be less than 1c per 500mg tablet. 100 tablets of panadol goes for a whopping $13 from chemist warehouse. That's why we stock panamax in hospitals. This is the same for almost every other medication out there that is not under patent. The only real difference are the form and fillers, the active ingredient is always the same. Some people will still pay the extra just for placebo effect or because they like capsules more than dry gritty tablets.

    Wholesale versus retail prices is another whole discussion which I don't know enough about to make any meaningful comments.


      Thanks for providing a much needed sanity to this. Back of the envelope calc, 100 tabs for 5c. At that point panamax is blown out of the water. And I have to admit, that panamax deal is part of the reason I started this rant - so many people saying how such a good deal it was.


    some will pay $3.50 for water in a bottle. go figure.
    petrol is $1/L including massive amounts of tax.
    it used to be said that coca-cola cost 3c/L and was sold for $3/L. nice mark-up, and not unusual, I'd suggest.


    I worked for a mining equipment company that procured filters from Europe at a cost of $25 each (Sweden). Here the distributor was charging $600 for the same thing, when I inquired about the huge markup, they said it was due to shipment fees - I inquired and a 20"container LCL at the time cost me ~$600 from Sweden to Perth. They had no response to that…

    If your an international company dealing in Australia, if your not making massive margins then you don't belong here… this is well known in international circles.

    Google also keeps you buying inside Australia when exactly the same thing can be found overseas for much cheaper - just the logistics can be a pain

    • +2 votes

      Brilliant comment, and it chimes with my experience. I once traveled to Europe for precisely the same reason, bought the items and shipped them myself. Charging 25 times the usual price isn't unusual - and I refuse to accept the argument that - well you're a really wealthy nation then you should, and will pay through the nose. Part of the problem is a lot of people approving these exorbitant amounts don't see it as their money - so why care hey? Too short-sighted to see that if the business isn't viable then you're not either.

      Anyhow if you can go on a round trip to Europe, and still save a huge amount of money, you know somethings seriously wrong.


      Though precisely because of the mining boom, that's exactly why mining supplies had that price rise added on to them [as did everything else in the mining boom - that's why Gina Rinehart was so cantankerous about mining wages being disproportionately higher than, say, heavy construction work wages]. Everyone knew how good the mining industry had it, and that's why it got charged the prices it did. Trying to flog those filters to a earthworking company in a rural setting wouldn't have borne that price point.

  • +1 vote

    Just for your information, azythrmycin is an antibiotic which is not on the PBS. It is $45 for 12 tablets, probably a rip off butnot paracetamol.


      You are quite right - I meant to say acetaminophen. Thanks very much for clarifying that.


    It is a lot easier for me to find bargain or cheaper items here in australia for daily needs compared to Asia since we have mostly special items on sale every week.

    On average I easily spend 50% more in Jakarta or Manila on groceries, maybe 30% more on eating out

  • +3 votes

    R U OK?

  • +5 votes

    Go move to a third world country

    Go make third world wages

    Go work in third world conditions

    Go experience third world public amenities

    Go seek treatment under third world healthcare

    …then come back and complain about how much shit costs here and determine which you're happier with.

    • -4 votes

      Excuse me. I've already made the point that you can ship these products to Australia for the same price, with obviously a few overheads that don't even come close to the markup.

      Also being a highly paid professional creating jobs for the locals and providing valuable export dollars, isn't third world wages, quite the opposite, I work hard - relying on years of hard fought experience, and my compensation for that is in line with that.

      I have sought medical care there - I had a cyst behind my ear that went nuclear, possibly owing to the heat. You know what? I went to the local hospital for seven days in a row, had it rebandaged and cleansed, together with antibiotics and painkillers. Do you know how much they charged me? Nothing. Granted I was friends with the doctor, but this is definitely not unusual.

      So I'm not cynically comparing one to the other - I'm just observing that when you look from the outside you realise how badly we are being ripped off. Just forget about Laos - I could order the same thing from this very keyboard in Australia.


        OP I want to make some dough .
        Which one should I import first based on supply/demand and margins ?


        Do you know how much they charged me? Nothing. Granted I was friends with the doctor, but this is definitely not unusual.

        That is not true. I have also lived in Laos, and that is an unusual example.

        The locals pay for everything out of pocket when it comes to medical costs, and actually pay up front before they are treated with a roundabout back-and-forth system of; get your bill here, pay over there, collect your supplies here, wait over here, then get treated over there.

        I’ve experienced a few of them around Vientiane. Most expats, and locals if they can afford it, will visit the private hospital (relatively expensive compared to gov hospitals), duck over to Thailand’s private hospitals (perceived better level of care) or visit the French Embassy medical clinic if they feel more comfortable.

        A visit to the local hospital is inexpensive, but not free and not easy if you don’t speak Lao.

  • +9 votes

    A very naive understanding of retail prices.

    You can't directly compare prices overseas vs prices locally. There are various factors, such as cost of living and wages. In Australia we have quite high wages, and as a result of that our prices are quite high (because at every stage of production higher wages are paid). People in poorer countries get paid very little, and that tends to make most necessary products (e.g. food and medicine) very cheap compared to their price in Australia, and also makes their exported products cheaper. It's also expensive to get products into Australia and move them around due to our geography.

    When we buy something from a retail store we are not just paying for the product itself, but the wages of the staff, the convenience of the store location (i.e. their high rent), various taxes (e.g. GST), importing costs (e.g. shipping from China), other overheads (marketing, etc.), and profit. Australia also has more strict safety standards than a lot of places, so we effectively pay more for safer, higher quality products.

    Despite your naive calculations, most retail profit margins are quite thin (in the low single-digit percent range). Making a profit is also not 'ripping off' anyone. In Australia, most essential items are fairly priced and sold at close to cost (e.g. milk, vegetables, medicine). Paracetamol, ibuprofen, and aspirin can be found for around 75c-$1 for a packet at any supermarket. When you grow your own carrots, you're not paying the farmer, the delivery driver, the shelf-stacker, and the check-out person.

    If the profit margins were as obscene as you seem to think, then it would be incredibly easy for anyone to undercut prices, which would be easy money for anyone.

    The reality is that we pay mostly for quality/consistency and convenience. The raw materials are a small part of the final retail price of anything.

    • +3 votes

      A very naive understanding of retail prices.

      Angry old man + childlike understanding = pretty irritating human.

      • +1 vote

        Angry old man + childlike understanding = pretty irritating human.

        You see this IRL with the 45th president of US and this is also reflected in society with his followers recently…

        Will only cherry pick agenda to suit their confirmation bias.

    • +1 vote

      Totally agree with this commentary. The raw product costs is minor in the overall price in a market like Australia. Also agree it can probably be quite cheap to make a once off import of a product compared to buying locally but that doesnt take into account all the costs of running a business in Australia. All the overheads in Australia for running a business is crazy, you gotta take into consideration things like federal income tax, GST, other local taxes like payroll tax, workers comp, high rents, high utitlity costs, insurances on nearly everything and then you need accountants just to try and complete all the admin just so you can run the actual business. But will all these costs bring benefits like payments to injured workers, payments if injured in traffic accidents, superannuation, job security, police, ambos, disability insurance, maintained roads, garbage services and reasonable quality requirements on products and so on. All those benefits surely aren't available citizens in Laos

      • +1 vote

        And talking about medications, the PBS, hygeine standards, storage requirements etc. there would be large overheads to be able to import a drum of Uber cheap paracetamol and sell it legally here. We have systems, checks and balances which need to be adhered to for safety.


    India is known for their cheap (and effective) generic drugs. If you ever get Hep C, instead of paying 90k for Gilead's drug in the USA, take a vacation to india.


    yah - but you want your minimum wage to be ~$20 per hour. it's all relative to that

  • +1 vote

    Yes. It's the Australia tax. It's applied to everything from software to bike parts.

    Just remember we are a relatively tiny and very isolated market. It's like going to a resort town for the weekend, all the prices are heavily inflated. But if you learn a few tricks (buy non-perishables overseas, perishables at fresh markets, PBS/no name medicine, etc, etc) you can get around much of the profit seeking capitalist BS… for now.

    It's a blatant rip off, but its how most small businesses have made a profit up to this point. Importing cheap products (often with an exclusive contract to prevent competition) then marking them up astronomically.

    Most Aussie's put up with it because they don't know any different. What astounded me in my travels was how CHEAP the countries I've always heard cost a fortune. Switzerland and Japan were both cheaper to travel, eat and find accomodation in then Australia, it's insane. Until COVID my Dad could afford to travel Europe indefinitely just on his Australian aged pension (only returning every six months). The difference in prices, even in developed nations is insane. Australia is a complete bubble.. and not just the house prices.

    Then there are the monopolies/duopolies which dominate EVERY industry here. Competition is nearly non-existant unless you look off-shore. But that takes time, so business exploit that to their maximum advantage.

    Good luck!


      Switzerland isn't a good example of cheaper living than Australia.

      Out of the top 10 most expensive cities, three are in Switzerland.

      Japan is pretty cheap to travel in, and eat, as long as you're savvy about the way you spend. If however you want fresh fruit, rental accomodation, transport (cannot use JR Pass if you live there, remember), beef, etc, you're going to pay a lot more.

  • +4 votes

    A relative of mine runs a business and has commented how spoiled rotten people here are, being paid $25 per hour to do a job that would attract just $5 in China. When I asked her if she would be happy earning $5, she said 'no way, I wouldn't work for so little money!'

    Yes, exactly.


      Did it ever occur to you that in order to live in Australia, you need to be paid over $20 an hour. In fact every extra dollar over that amount can ensure you're not living below the poverty line. It's an iterative process, food prices keep going up, to survive you have to be paid more - not very hard to understand - not sure why people find it so hard.

      Yeah, sure, people call me a nutjob for even questioning this - but is it just a coincidence that people are getting paid the very bare minimum to just scrape by. Of course in the good ole USA people work two jobs and still live in tents on the streets.

      If your relative wouldn't work for $5 dollars an hour, I mean how dare she object that she should do the same thing! You are quite right - what the hell? You're seen as spoiled rotten by a privileged class of people who do useless jobs and call themselves righteously superior, when they wouldn't even deign to do anything for them self - it makes me sick.


    It's well known that spices and leaves in supermarkets are VERY expensive as they're cheap ingredients sold in little fancy containers. If you want kaffir lime leaves then visit an Indian or Asian grocery, not a supermarket. How many Australians use kaffir lime leaves regularly? We're not talking about stuff that sells well in bulk, like salt, pepper, chilli, etc.

    You are welcome to buy bags of it, package it up into smaller quantities, and sell the leaves for 10x mark up yourself. I'm guessing you're not going to, as it won't be worth it.

  • +1 vote

    Think about that the next time you pick up 24 tablets of panadol for $5 - the exact same chemical

    You're paying for name brand though.

    $0.70 at coles for generic
    24x 0.5g = 6 grams = $116/kg

    Or 100 packs for $0.69 when on sale:
    100x 0.5g = 50 grams = $13.8/kg

    I dont know about you, but the above seems way more convenient than buying a 60KG drum from India.


      The reason I looked into it was I decided to donate the drums to several charities in Africa, which I did.

      You are missing the point - the 70c deal is what it should be priced at all the time. In fact the very existence of that deal is proving my point. Think about it. You seem like a reasonably smart person.


        You are missing the point - the 70c deal is what it should be priced at all the time. In fact the very existence of that deal is proving my point. Think about it. You seem like a reasonably smart person.

        70c is what it is priced at all the time

  • +2 votes

    If AU has the same govt, social, standard of living, availability of products & services (private or public) and work conditions like Laos. i.e. if we all live like Laos, then cost of items most likely would be priced the "same".

    But, we don't and don't think most of us would want to either, thats why we are here in AU…

    • +1 vote

      We're here in au because, for most of us, we were born here


      Jesus!!!! just forget I made any mention of Laos FFS! It's immaterial to what I'm saying. Christ! It's incredibly disappointing that people keep bringing this up. I like to think the best of people, but this is really trying.

      • +2 votes

        Even if we ignore the Laos stuff, there's a lot of other white noise mixed in with it. I mean, let's look at the baked beans comment:

        "And the list goes on and on. $2.50 for a can of baked beans? When I was in England 15 years ago you could buy a tin for a few pence, now they're like a pound each. If you have ever cooked beans yourself a handful of them will make about 4 to 5 tins."

        Point1. Things in the past always cost "less" than to do now because of inflation, consumer price index, etc.

        Point2a. Even taking this into consideration, your numbers are bonkers - a few pence is, say, 5 pence. A pound is 100 pence. Did the cost of a tin of baked beans actually increase to 20 times what it was in the last fifteen years? You're using this as part of your argument, so I hope you aren't just pulling figures out of nowhere.
        Point2b. Bonkers Numbers 2: Electric Boogaloo: A handful of cooked beans makes 4-5 tins? Are you the Hulk? Are you using Shopkins tins? Can you see how saying things like this makes it difficult to take your argument (and your ability to notice details and compare them) at face value?

        Point3. Actually addressing your argument - yes, there actually are price gaps exactly of this type in Australia, right now:

        Woolworths normally sells a 300g can of Heinz Baked Beans for $2.00 ($0.66 per 100G)
        At the same time, the generic Baked Beans are 420g from $0.65 ($0.15 per 100G)
        The difference is what people are willing to pay for the brand [and overall flavour - let's not pretend they use the same sauce.. but let's not also pretend the sauce alone is what makes the price 4 times bigger]. So yes, for your viewing pleasure - proof that some items in Australia do cost a premium - but also there are cheap alternatives available as well.

        Point4. Bonus point: Heinz is actually on sale at Woolies at the moment, which happily addresses another of your points. As to how they 'afford' to do this, there's a possible explanations. It could be used as a loss leader to get people in [Woolies will take a loss on the tin of beans they sold you, but at the same time you filled a trolley with other stuff that wasn't on sale], or it could be a subsidised sale [Heinz has to cut a cheque to Woolies for the 'discount']. These are both commonplace.


        Calm your amygdala 🧠 down. 😅

        Everyone is just sharing their opinion, when you see things from a binary “right or wrong” lens, it makes life more difficult than necessary. 😄

        I didn’t neg you btw.

  • +1 vote

    Supply and demand (how often is the average person buying kaffir leaves?), wages, marketing, brands, standards and requirements of different countries etc. it all effects the price.

    You can get a tin of baked beans for ~80c or so from Aldi. You can get 100 paracetamol tabs for well under a buck ( Shopping around is your friend. I generally think we have it pretty good here, all things considered.


      Okay - I know this is slightly off topic - but why do you think taxes exist? I mean if you're so confident that you understand the economy - I'd be genuinely interested in what you think.


        A bit more than slightly. I'm not even sure what connection you're trying to draw here?


          Yeah, sorry about that, but I did say it was off-topic (and not just slightly), and it would be interesting to hear your opinion on how and why the economy works. You purport to understand it so naturally I would appreciate if you would take a couple of minutes of your valuable time to educate me. I always find taxes are a good starting point, because if you don't really understand that - then you're lost at sea.

          I didn't mean to put you on the spot - just curious, that is all.

          • +4 votes

            @WizMuncher: No need, you're already an expert.

            Be sure to post some bargains once your paracetamol business is up and running.


    Low competition explains the high price in Australia. Someone probably can make a cheaper beans in a can and make it better but no one wants to do it.



  • +2 votes

    Best example of rip off is digital media, youtube, netflix , XB games etc. Youtube in India or South American counties is around A$2.80 for family, same in Australia is around $23.

    Netflix A$8 in Turkey for premium vs A$20 in Australia. In physical good commodity , you have to pay logistics charges, rental etc but in digital, can't see any excuse.

    If they can provide same digital content in India for x amount of money, it should cost more or less same, not 4 or 5 times higher.

    • +2 votes

      What’s the purchasing power of the average Australian vs India or South America? It’s all relative.

    • +2 votes

      800-900$ weekly minimum wage in Australia vs 100-150$ weekly minimum wage in Turkey. Seems Australians have got way more power of purchase to me.


        It the argument wasn’t about purchase power, it was cost of service. The Netflix in turkey costs the same as anywhere else to provide. Is Netflix doing turkey a favour?