Disgruntled Lego Customer
The process of acquiring a Mindstorms robot kit has left an extremely bad taste in my mouth. Lego apparently has something of a reputation for openness with the Mindstorms Kit (although the programming software is both closed and won’t run on Linux – and you’re not licensed to develop commercial applications with it). However, they do not seem to have a reputation for free trade. Pricing for the kit on Amazon equated to about AU$330 delivered (Amazon have just sent me an email suggesting I buy it from them based on my earlier searching – which has set off this post). This compares very favourably to local pricing of AU$450 (not delivered). Or, it would compare favourably if someone was willing to ship one to me from overseas. While there are a couple of small places that will, they don’t have the volume, so shipping costs are very high. Amazon claims “warranty issues” as the reason. For a bunch of plastic which runs off AA batteries, and for which an identical product is sold here? GMAB – I call baloney. I can only assume that distributors have been heavied by Lego. This reeks of market segmentation.
In rough terms, for every two sets an Australian school can buy, a US school can buy three. Yet another example of how copyright hobbles innovation in this country.
Update: I’m not being particularly critical of Amazon (except perhaps for sending me an email asking me to buy a product that it has already refused to ship to me) because a number of suppliers wouldn’t ship it (including from Singapore and Hong Kong) – this might not have been obvious from the post. It would be nice if this was all just a coincidence