A couple of years ago I bought my baseball-loving Lovely Wife a replica Washington Nationals batting practice shirt. I paid northwards of $100 for what was, when you get down to it, a hunk of brightly-colored polyester.
I won't get into the odd psychopathology that drives sports fans to clothe themselves in the raiment of their heroes. (Can you imagine if supporters of all sorts did that? Should Barack Obama supporters follow their candidate while dressed in coat and tie? Would Hilary Clinton's fans choose a sober pantsuit? And who would horse-racing gamblers choose to emulate: the jockey or the horse?) I'll just point you to a story from today's Guardian that confirms what many sports fans suspect: They're being ripped off.
According to the Guardian, fans who bought certain England and Manchester United replica jerseys were gouged. "Prices were kept artificially high because of unlawful agreements between manufacturers and sellers," reported the paper. Those who can prove they bought such a shirt can get a refund of up to 20 pounds.
Also on the rip-off front: Apple is going to have to cut the cost of iTunes downloads in Britain. I've had nothing but trouble with iTunes since moving here. My old U.S. account isn't any good and I don't know if that's because I changed my credit card address from the U.S. to the U.K. or if Apple figured out I was in England from my ISP details. Whichever it was, it costs 79 pence to download a song. That's about $1.60, compared to 99 cents-per-song in America. Also, I can't order iTunes gifts for people in the U.S. online, even if I pay in pounds.
Part of the problem, of course, is the weak dollar. But the European commission ruled that Apple was unfairly charging more for music in Britain, compared with the rest of Europe. Steve Jobs seemed to be contrite, saying this is a step toward "pan-European" pricing of music. Sure, Steve, but how about pan-global pricing?
Incidentally, both of these efforts were spearheaded by Which?, a U.K. consumer organization. They're like a super-activist Consumer Reports.