Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting it from US- My thoughts

--Stock clearance post--

This post was once accidentally published in an work in progress mode and then saved as draft.  Republishing now after updates.

We often get enquiries from friends asking if any of our friends are returning from US in near future, coz they want to get something from there. Majority among us love to show off that we got a particular gadget from US and paid much lesser than what one would have paid in India. This post is a brief debate about pros and cons of procuring personal goods from abroad, vis-a-vis buying it in domestic market.

As far as the MRP is considered, certainly there might be substantial difference in product pricing, compared to India and USA (this could be due to difference in transportation costs  for the manufacturer or taxation or other factors). For a product like laptop or camera, difference in MRP could be around 10-20% or more. It’s not at all a bad idea to save some money. But what I am concerned about are several other aspects which are often ignored.

Inconvenience to the person:
Getting it from the US means we’ve to trouble someone else to get it for us. They’ll have to take time out to go to nearest shop, select the model, pay, get it packed and carry it all the way to India. Depending on numerous factors, this could cause considerable inconvenience to the other person
  • Those on short visit will usually have very tight schedule. If the shops are not nearby, it’ll be lot inconvenient to go out and buy.
  • If a person has to take time out-say couple of hours-to rent a cab, the time, effort and cost involved can add up to several dollars.
  • Those travelling for first time might have a big shopping list for themselves and their family. Any additional request might be a burden to them in terms of money, permissible weight and so on
Forgotten factors:
  • We always expect them to buy it from their own money, without paying any advance. This may not be fair on them if they're short of cash
  • We often pay them by converting US $ they paid * 45 or current conversion rate. Currency conversion charges, cost due to currency fluctuation etc are often forgotten
  • Not all products come with international warranty. For a laptop bought in US, if you can't get it repaired/replaced in India for free, then you'll be paying extra.
Other Reasons:
  • Chances of miscommunication: Despite best efforts, there might be slight miscommunication between what you wanted and what other person gets (may be communication was not right or may be the exact model was not available n he bought the closest one, which isn't as per your needs). Imagine the disappointment "Oops! this is not what I wanted" after opening the box...
  • Time Delay: If you're buying in India you can go n buy right away, getting from abroad would mean waiting for few weeks to months. Opportunity cost/waiting time needs to be considered.
  • Comfort of buying in person: If you buy from a local shop, you know what exactly you're buying and you can also go back to the shop and get it fixed if there're any issues. You'll not have this privilege while procuring from abroad
Unless the cost difference is too tempting, above risk elements taken care of and one's certain that person returning from US won't find it inconvenient, I'd say better to buy locally.

Disclaimer: Personal experience and observations only. Individual preferences may vary.


Anu menon said...

The cons might seem more than the pros :) in my case I asked a frd to get me a camera n he got it for me for $350. Six months later I went to the US n found that the price had gone down to $200!!!
Also in this case since the frd asked to be paid in dollars I went in search of someone who had dollars n paid him the extra money for conversion. The frd who bought it sent it thru anoter frd and so I had to collect the dollars go to this other persons house take the camera n give the dollars n then follow up and make sure that the guy finally received his money! After that episode I decided never ask for anything.

Trails of a Traveler said...

Following are the things that I always do to take care the situations mentioned.
1. Inconvenience: I trouble only very close friends who would not mind taking the trouble, provided they have the time to take the trouble. Vice Versa is also true. I dont mind being troubled by these close friends. And I have absolutely no problem in hearing a NO from them and they too know this. So if they cannot get it they would not mind saying no.

Forgotten factors: Again the same as above. If money is needed, I always pay in the same conversion rate that would be needed for him/her to cover the expense. Still it is cheaper than buying in India.
Most of the products that I request would come in international warranty. If not I am very much aware of that and buy only if I can take that risk.

Others: Most often I always order the product online and just give the shipping address to the friend. If ordering from India is not possible, I just send the online like to the friend so they can order it. All my purchases happened this way only. So no ambiguities.


Callezee said...

All of them accept some reason thought only.......

Arundati said...

I think you are under the mistaken impression that people go to stores to buy electronic items in the US. Most of the good deals are given by online e-tailers who don't have the overhead and costs that traditional stores have. Even the brick and mortar stores give option to buy online and pick up in store after 30 minutes for people who don't want to walk around in huge shops and waste time.
So ideally the person in India would do the research online, choose the item, buy it and have it shipped to the friend's house or hotel. This is ideal like Trails mentioned above.
One downside to this is that in these times of increased security I do not like to carry unknown packages sent to me.

So most suitable thing to do is send the link to the cheapest price(you do the research and find the lowest price) and have the friend buy this item and carry it. Again Trails said this also.

But the best thing to do is to limit this begging of favor to unique items and not to ask for kanji pinji stuff. And the price difference can be substantial so the savings are definitely there - My spouse and I bought a 42 " LED tv for $700 and this was a clearance sale for a closeout model. This model is a new entry in India priced at Rs65K promotional offer(reg price 85k Rs) So India is definitely not the place for electronics bargain.

The only reason to not buy stuff that is super expensive - the warranty is valid only for US customers so if the item goes bust then the user is stuck with an expensive piece of junk.

Shalini Gowrisankar said...

I dont think I have asked any body to buy me anything when are on a trip abroad, except may be my parents :)

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Anu, Ram, Arundati and Shalini for sharing your perspectives and experience.

Guess its first time here for Arundati and Shalini- extra thanks

Anu: Yes, fund transfer, if not managed effectively, will be a head ache

Ram: Yes, when the understanding in strong and straight forward, not much of a trouble

Arundati: I know online is an option.

Also, for large items like LCD TVs- cost of transportation also need to be factored

Thanks for your inputs

Shalini: Ok, one can take liberty of troubling their parents!

S.R.Ayyangar said...

Because of open economy I think now the trend has changed as all the imported stuff are available openly and at a reasonable cost in our country.

asif ahmed said...

Thanks for sharing it with us..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

SRA Sir,

There's still a considerable price difference, may be not too much.

You're welcome