That was quick! Local newspaper BaZ seems to keep close tabs on the Apple-Suisa skirmish - we've reported earlier. Now BaZ breaks the news that Apple has backed down on Saturday and will be paying up the millions that it has accrued in levies. But apparently not before getting a letter from a Swiss consumerism organisation demanding that Apple pays back the surcharge retained from consumers, should it be successful against Suisa. So that matter's settled - but Suisa continues to look into whether iPhone will be considered a media player that is subject to the levy.
This story is about our preferred purveyor of fine fruit, and I post it because I haven't seen it anywhere else - probably no netizen reads Basler Zeitung ... anyway: they have this story about Apple refusing to pay a blank media levy imposed on the sale of media players (i.e. the iPod) by Suisa (Swiss Society for the Rights of Authors of Musical Works). Apple apparently refuses to pay because their online store is located in Ireland and mails iPods directly to its Swiss clients and therefore, Apple thinks, it is not liable to pay. Suisa's levy on RAM-based media players used to be extremely hefty: until 1 April, the levy on a 32 GB iPod touch was CHF 153. Under heavy attack, Suisa decided to lower that levy unilaterally to 42 francs.
Now I am certainly no friend of Suisa's. Nevertheless, I think Apple's position in this matter is quite untenable. They claim that they never included any levy in the pricing of the players, yet the price difference between the Swiss Apple store and others magically is about equal to what the levy amounted to before it was lowered. And it hasn't been lowered still, so everybody who buys an iPod on Apple's Swiss online store is not very intelligent. This certainly does not generate much goodwill with clients either. What's more, Swiss VAT is applied to the goods sold online, and the store claims to be subject to Swiss law, so ... I'm guessing that the legal goings-on in a tiny province of Apple's vast realm (that doesn't even have the iPhone, yet - legally) has escaped the eye of Cupertino's lawyers so far. This is bound to change soon, and we'll hopefully see a levy refund to Swiss Apple Store clients soon.
Update: As this post creates so much traffic, I went back to check my facts and, lo & behold, the prices of the Swiss Apple Store have been brought back in line with the Euro pricing: CHF 719 (EUR 440) for the 32GB iPod touch, down from ca. 840 on last check. This is lower than the price at the German store (EUR 459), but not by as much as the roughly 10% points difference in VAT would suggest. The difference, again, is close enough to 42 francs. Therefore, the retail price includes the levy, but Apple refuses to fess up. Good policy?