I recently received an offer from Icom Simulations to upgrade my old OnCue to a brand new OnCue II. I don't intend to discuss the usefulness of OnCue II but instead the price of the upgrade. The price is just $34.95, which seems reasonable. So what's the point? Simply that shipping and handling is $6 for US orders and $45 for international users such as myself, since I live in France. Ouch! This adds up to $79.95, closing in on Microsoft's high upgrade prices. I think something is wrong here.
OnCue II is available for around $55 from any of the mail order firms and with a $25 Federal Express or DHL delivery I'll receive it within five days, compared to the three to six weeks that most upgrades take to arrive. So it would only cost a mere five cents more to get OnCue II in a few days, which is not a bad trade-off of money for time.
I recently ordered uAccess from ICE Engineering and my air mail packet cost was only $8.95. A few publishers like Symmetry are so nice that they send some non-major upgrades (Acta 7 v1.10 for instance) to international users free, a policy which garners an immeasurable amount of customer loyalty.
[Adam: I realize that this may sound like another "Why is everything so expensive for international users?" gripe, but I think there's more to it than that. I know for a fact that it's not all that expensive to mail things overseas from the US - in fact I just mailed Jean-Philippe a one ounce package that cost me 95 cents and took only five days to arrive. I've never seen the OnCue package, but as a fairly small utility, I can't imagine that the whole thing, manual and all, weighs more than one pound. One pound would cost, at air mail letter rate according to the information I have from the Postal Service, a whopping $12.65. I'm sorry folks, but like it or not, this is a global economy and if you want to do well, you have to pay attention to the needs of international users. Especially as the networks break down the barriers of time and distance, intelligent companies will have to learn, as ICE and Symmetry have, that it's worth the customer loyalty to provide reasonably-priced international service.
You may have noticed that the last issue had an article from Ian Feldman in Sweden, and TidBITS continues to spread around the world. TidBITS-082 was translated into Japanese and has been popular in Japan, and TidBITS-104 has been translated into French as well. I've recently heard from new readers in Brazil and Mexico, someone is working on an article on the state of the Mac in Germany, and even a few people in Russia read TidBITS and other network information. Representatives of US companies and the US government reading right now should take note of this - face it, we're all in this together.]
Jean-Philippe Nicaise -- firstname.lastname@example.org