Friday, April 30, 2010

Excuse me, where's the shopping paradise please?

Dad often tells us that Hong Kong used to be known as a shopper's paradise. He is probably talking about when our great-great-grand father was still living in the US, ie over 20 years ago, when Hong Kong kids would go to UK boarding schools with their latest models of Walkman and be the envy of all the other boarders. So what happened in the interim years? Both the rise of China as a global export power and the spread of internet have brought down the price in so many things across the globe. Somehow that does not apply to Hong Kong.

Lets just take the water filter we drink from at home as an example. The water filter that comes inside our Samsung fridge costs HK$400, but you can buy 2 for US$65 inclusive of shipping (~HK$255 each) in the US. Not only is the price more expensive and sometimes you might need to wait over 3 to 4 months after you order the item having paid for it in the first place. "We have the water filter in stock now. You might want to order a few extra. The next shipment may not be for another 6 months!!", the customer service assistant so kindly advise when dad called up to check price and availability. The same item ordered in the US was dispatched within 24 hours.

Guess this is nothing new to all the people who have been shopping online for the last few years. But a lot of online retailers insist on domestic delivery only, notably in Japan and the US. That is where package forwarding services like come in. You sign up and pay an annual fee to get a mailing address where all your online purchases in the US can be sent to.

The following 2 water filter replacements are also great value when bought online. In Hong Kong, you pay the US RRP but you can find US domestic online retailers selling them at significant discount to RRP.

And there are even more extreme cases where people happily pay premium to US RRP for goods which are essentially the same. If mum and dad eventually acquire the item online, we might talk about it here. Until then......

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