If there's one thing to hate about the internet, its geo-blocking — this insidious practice of big-name multinational brands charging consumers in one country higher prices for the same goods and services than those in another.
But what makes it all the more inexcusable is attaching it to downloaded content like software and music, content that's not sent to you physically but down the intertubes to your computer, tablet or phone.
Clearly, the courier charges for those pesky little electrons must be enormous!
Apple isn't the only offender, but it does offer a compelling example. You probably already know that song prices on the Australian iTunes store start at $1.19 and top off at $2.19.
However in the US, they range from US69c to US$1.29. That translates to roughly 75c to $1.40 based on the exchange rate at time of writing.
Save a bucketload
One way to save money is to purchase discounted iTunes gift cards.
You don't have to look hard to find them, with local retailers like Dick Smith often discounting higher-value cards by up to 25%.
The problem is, because these are Australian iTunes cards, you still pay Australian iTunes store prices.
But if you're ready to indulge in a little online subterfuge, you can jump on the US iTunes bandwagon and save a small fortune.
Part 1: Buy the US iTunes gift card
First step, you need to buy yourself a US iTunes gift card. Now you don't need the actual card itself — just the redeeming code number.
A few online sellers specialise in this, so instead of waiting weeks for a card bought on eBay, you can get the card number almost immediately.
Both allow you to purchase via your standard Australian PayPal account, but you'll have to go through a verification test with Offgamers.
All up, gift card prices from these two typically work out to be more in Australian dollars than the card's dollar face value (including PayPal/credit card surcharges), but look for specials and you can do much better.
We used offgamers.com with no trouble. You sign up for a free account, look for 'iTunes cards', choose your gift card by dollar amount, pay for it either directly with credit card or via PayPal and grab the card redeem code from your account.
The only hurdle you have to jump through the first time is an SMS verification process to make sure you're not dodgy, so you need to select your ISD country code (Australia +61) and provide your mobile phone number in your account profile before you purchase.
When you enter your mobile number, don't include the leading '0' — for example, '0499123456' becomes '499123456'.
Now when you make that first purchase, you'll be sent an SMS with a verification code. Grab the code, type it into the web page text box at the appropriate point and you'll progress to your chosen payment method.
We paid with a standard Australian PayPal account (credit card details kept nice and safe) and really, it's almost like buying from eBay. In the end, the whole process should take no more than 10 minutes.
Part 2: Sign up to the US iTunes store
If you already have a local Australian iTunes account, the first thing to do is to sign out of it.
You can do this by left-clicking on your ID button and choosing 'sign out' from the mini menu.
Like most content sites however, iTunes uses your computer's IP (internet protocol) address to identify your country of origin and automatically funnel you into the local store.
But if you scroll right down to the bottom of the app window, you'll see the little Aussie flag icon. Click on it and change the iTunes store country location to 'United States'.
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