Buying from over the pond

Discussion in 'Buying Tips, Advice and Discussion (archive)' started by tkd, Jan 7, 2004.

  1. tkd macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2004
    Dear All

    In the very near future I would like to treat myself to a superdrive powebook, obviously the key factor holding me back is cost. I live in the U/K and although I may be able to get a 15% discount from apple/uk, due to the strength of sterling I am considering buying from the states and shipping to Edinburgh. Could all you brainiacs out there let me know the pros and cons of such an endeavour

    thanx tkd
  2. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    Sounds like a good idea, this morning exchange rates were at £1 - $1.82 :eek: !!! That's the weakest the dollar has been against the pound in 11 years apparently. I'm taking this time to register all the $10 shareware apps I have while it's cheap ;)

    And (some) people wanted the Euro...huh!
  3. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    a few points to consider:

    you will need an U.S. address to ship the product to. i am not sure about billing or the necessity to have a credit card with an U.S. address.

    you will need to ship once the computer is received. you will also need to insure your shipment. this could add up.

    you will also need to pay import tax once the computer reaches U.K. this could add up as well.

    one option: if you have a friend in the states, have him/her purchase the computer and ship it to you as a gift. this may or may not work because such an expensive piece may not work as a "gift" as customs people will be very suspicious.

    THE best bet: couple your purchase with a vacation to the states. go to a retail apple store and purchase the machine yourself. accidentally "lose" the receipt in the states (or hide it) :D fly back to the u.k. and say nothing about when the PB was purchased...

    just be careful, though, because the penalty for importing goods and not paying duties on them (smuggling) could be costly. i used to reside in france and commute to switzerland every day. one day, i guess it was a particularly nasty day for the border guards, i got stopped and they found my palm pilot i purchased in the states, prior to arriving in france. but since i was not a visitor but a resident of france, i had to have declared palm. they charged me $50 in duties and $50 more in fine for a palm with declared value of $300.

    personally, if you can get a 15% discount in the U.K., that's probably better, even with such a strong sterling. you won't get quite that rate anyway and added trouble may not be worth the risk... if you already had a plan to visit the states, that would be ideal...
  4. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    quick calculations...

    stock superdrive 15" PB is $2600 in the U.S. with a typical sales tax (avoidable if you will ship to sales tax-free states, like NH or DE), it's $2750. i imagine that shipping and insuring will cost at least $50, if not $100. so let's say it's $2800.

    the same PB is £2000 in the U.K. if you can get 15% off, that's £1700. if you can get a reasonably strong sterling, say around $1.80 to a pound, then that's $3050 or so.

    so you are looking at a saving of less than $300. now, if you get caught and has to pay import duty, then that savings will be pretty much wiped out.

    you will also want to ask about international warranty. i am fairly certain you can get your machine serviced in the U.K. even if it's purchased in the U.S., but i'd make sure.

    the best bet is to have some reason to come to the states to begin with and purchase directly...
  5. georgB macrumors newbie


    Jan 7, 2004
    I'd definitely buy it in the US at this time. (I speak from frequent personal experience in Austria, but I suspect the UK situation is not too different. Check with customs, however, to make sure.) While smuggling it into Europe (yourself or via a friend) is not that hard, it’s a risk I never wanted to take, both for its own sake, and also because I write my machines off as a business expense in Europe, which you can’t do with smuggled items. Legally importing it from the US, including shipping, insurance and duties (you’ll probably have customs on the total cost, including shipping and insurance, and VAT figured on that amount) is usually still cheaper than buying in Europe; all the more when you can write it off; and now, with the Euro/Sterling bonus, it seems to me a no-brainer (this’ll probably get even better over the next few months, so there’s no hurry).

    If you buy from the US Apple store, you’ll need a US address (a friend), from which it will be shipped on to you. Easier on friendships, more efficient, and frequently cheaper: many of the US mail-order houses will ship to you internationally (and accept your UK credit card), and if you can get the hardware package you want from them, it’s probably the best bet (checking around, you may be able to find some which will outfit it to your specs). You can also get any additional stuff (hard- and software, books) from them, too, in the same shipment. Hardware and software is probably taxed differently, so ask beforehand.

    1. Voltage and plug style: check the original specs before you buy. Nowadays, almost none of the hardware runs on pure house current, but the question is whether the US power supply will accept up to 220 V. It probably will, so all you’ll need is a standard plug converter, widely available cheaply. However, if you have to actually buy a new power supply, it might be cheaper buying the whole item in the UK (this won’t be the case for the computer, but may be so for, say, an AirPort base station).

    2. AirPort: get you AirPort and AirPort card in the same country. While this may have changed, a few years back there was some question whether "hybrid" setups would work, due to allowable frequencies here and abroad. Actually, they may, but I wasn’t willing to risk it.

    3. Remember, you’ll end up with a US keyboard and US software. The problem in the UK, if it arises at all, would only be with the ? (pound) and the € (euro) symbols. Of course, you can type these even if they’re not on your keyboard, but it takes some getting used to, and is a bit irksome. This may no longer be a problem today, but was in years past.

    Good luck with your new machine!
  6. Flavius macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2003
    I had the same problem, but Im in belgium so its even better for me to buy it in the states.

    12" with extended harddisk (80gb) at

    Subtotal $1,724.00

    12" with extended harddisk (80gb) at

    Sous-total €2.079,99 = 2,633.79 USD

    Difference: 909 USD

    Im surely going to get a friend to buy it for me and bring it over, claiming its his

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