Monday, December 07, 2009
Dialling up another stealth tax
The way that UK cellular networks all charge the same and offer the same levels of dire services suggests a cartel in operation. When doing some research in the local Orange store, TMP was told unequivocally that it was pointless waiting for Vodafone to get iPhones, because they will be charging the same anyway.
We don't think this was sales banter but the dishonest truth - Apple is controlling the iPhone market with the skill and brutality that it controls all its markets. The keenly complicit cellular networks are familiar and comfortable with market-fixing cartels, since the government has effectively allowed them to all get away with murder for years.
The Faustian deal was done when the embarrassed networks paid barmy money in the 3g spectrum sale, and simply had to be allowed to find ways to recover their donations to the treasury, by overcharging their customers. So in reality, the 3G spectrum sale was the stealth tax of the century - and in a "nod and wink" deal, Broon allowed the networks to do whatever it took not to go bust, and squeeze a few more taxable quid from UK punters and businesses; probably anticipating that they would go and blow any profits that they ever made on another spectrum auction.
The "latitude" extended to the cellular network operators included turning a blind eye to them operating as cartels - where everyone charges the same (albeit with as much effort at obfuscation as possible with intelligence-insulting marketing schemes) and either you pay a grossly inflated PAYG rate - or you will be lashed to a very tedious 24 month contract, hacked straight from your account by direct debit - or else...
The way in which banks are paying bugger all interest - but still charging borrowers as much as ever - is clearly another very handy form of stealth tax on prudent savers. And again Broon has assembled a handy cartel of behemoths who are prepared to "do business" with him in return for cartel favours.
Everywhere we look in Labour's benighted Britain, the big guys have been allowed to reach cartel and monopoly proportions where they are simply too big to care anything for customer service any longer, and immune from serious competition, in return for "doing deals" with the government, in return for acting as agents that are operating the dreadful Auld Fraud's stealthier raids on your cash.