It's a well-known Australian joke that retailer Harvey Norman's prices are "hardly normal". After all, you can usually buy the same electronic parts online or at a smaller store slightly cheaper than you can at the retail king.
There's nothing wrong with this situation, despite the healthy dose of cynicism it engenders about Harvey Norman on the part of us geekier citizens.
After all, there will probably always be a market for those who want to instantly satisfy their gadget crave by shopping at a large retail outlet, without waiting for the post in two or three days' time. And there's nothing wrong with charging a premium price for that service.
However, one wouldn't expect the price and privacy-conscious public sector to shop at Harvey Norman.
Yet a quick trawl through the archives of the federal government's contracts disclosure system reveals that's exactly what some agencies are doing. Not in droves, but in dribbles.
The Australian Federal Police, for example, bought some 100 JVC 20GB hard disk-based camcorders in the middle of last year from Harvey Norman (plus tapes) for a total of more than AU$111,000.
The feds also grabbed several Navman and Tom Tom GPS navigation units and a few other bits and pieces.
The Department of Defence also shopped at Harvey Norman, picking up items as varied as LCD TVs, furniture and computer parts. The Australian Electoral Commission picked up some of those combination TV/VCR/DVD boxes that seem to be so popular these days.
Now of course some of this equipment was directly sourced through Harvey Norman, but most of it went through a formal tender process -- indicating Harvey Norman won the government business fair and square.
Maybe the dribs and drabs of business Harvey Norman is picking up from the government indicates its prices aren't so bad after all -- for large organisations.
Is Harvey Norman overpriced for tech goodies? Post your opinion below this article.