Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Green Apples

On Apple's website for their new Macbook computers they state the following:
The new MacBooks. The world's greenest family of notebooks.

The highly recyclable, even more energy-efficient MacBook family has been designed with the environment in mind.

And a bit further down:

Reduced packaging.

The new MacBook packaging is up to 41 percent smaller than the previous generation. And smaller boxes are much better for the planet. Because smaller boxes mean we can fit more boxes on each shipping pallet — up to 25 percent more. Which means more products will fit on each boat and plane. Which means fewer boats and planes are used, resulting in fewer CO2 emissions. It’s just one seemingly minor change. But it has a major positive impact on our environment.

Interesting. It appears that a major selling point of the new Macbook is that it's "environmentally friendly", even before the customer purchases it.

So you can imagine my surprise to learn from a nameless source (an official Apple retailer in New Zealand) that it's standard Apple policy to ship all unsold stock back to the USA when demand exceeds supply, even if there are customers lining up here.

This is a bit troubling - I mean, the implications of this are rather unfortunate. It means that the cute little Macbook someone might buy in, say, Manhattan, thinking they are being environmentally friendly, has in fact traveled both to and from somewhere like New Zealand. Or further! Perhaps multiple times!

Fewer CO2 emissions indeed...

GST discounts and bad maths

Over the last few years, I've seen a few retailers host sales that proclaim "No GST" or "We'll pay your GST!" followed by a promise of a 12.5% discount (because, after all, GST is 12.5%, right...?).


Hopefully most people will realise the problem here. If you add 12.5% of something to itself, then taking that bit off again is only an 11.1% discount. A 12.5% discount is more than the GST component.

So what does this mean for the customer? Can we expect a full 12.5% discount? Or should we be happy with the retailer only paying the GST, an effective discount of only 11.1%? Advertising law suggests one could easily claim the full 12.5% discount in this case.

This ambiguity led me to write to a major retailer (who shall remain nameless) who responded with the following:

As you correctly point out, if we truly gave the customer just the GST component back, it would be 11.1%. We give the higher amount to make the concept very simple for the majority of people who find the GST calculation difficult. We appreciate that you are not one of those people, but hope that you enjoy the extra 1.4% anyway.

Personally I'm still not happy with this. If a retailer wants to pay your GST as a promotion, that's fine, but I don't think it should be followed by a claim of a 12.5% discount. And if they really want to give you a 12.5% discount because they think there's something magical about that number, then don't mention GST, because it's irrelevant.