iBook Price Difference
February 6, 2004 1:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to buy an iBook - but I've done some research, and the price in the UK is £200 more than in the US! I've got relatives in NY - is it sensible to take advantage of them to get a cheap machine? [MI]

Key questions..

1 - Will Apple honour the guarantee if the machine is used in a different country from the one it was bought in?
2 - Will customs in the UK hit me for VAT when it arrives in the UK?
3 - Would you risk having a new laptop shipped across the Atlantic?

posted by ascullion to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
The extended warranty should be purchased in the country where it will be serviced. The OEM warranty, 1 year, is good anywhere in the world.

UK customs will hit you IF it is caught by customs. If you have a friend/relative unpack it and bring it over as if it was not new, then it wont be taxed. You dont get the box, etc.

I would trust it to be hand carried over by a good friend in in-cabin luggage.

But with all the hassles, unless you have a trustworthy contact in the US, who is planning a UK trip, it ends up being quite a PITA to do all of this.
posted by gen at 1:42 AM on February 6, 2004

I would basically agree with gen. If you do happen to have a good friend or relative who is already making the trip to the UK, go for it - but if you don't, it's probably not worth it. Don't even consider shipping it over as a parcel or whatever, even if you do try and pretend that it's not new - UK customs will charge you a bunch of money and generally cause you lots of hassle.
posted by adrianhon at 1:47 AM on February 6, 2004

*cough* repair *cough*

If you get your mole to open the box, move stuff around, put in a fake repair invoice, put a big "repair" sticker on the box etc, you'll be fine. They don't charge VAT on repairs. But like adrianhon says, don't try otherwise. The Post Office will do the charging for you -- and even if you convince them it shouldn't be charged, you still pay their £10 fee.

Still, with the dollar like it is, you should be able to save even if you do pay the VAT.
posted by bonaldi at 2:57 AM on February 6, 2004

Are you or do you have any friends at university? Apple give out big discounts (sometimes up to one-third) for educational purchases... You might be able to find some prices here.
posted by humuhumu at 3:23 AM on February 6, 2004

I've been telling people to hold off on buying macs in canada now until the meteoric slide in the US dollar actually starts to reflect on Apple Canada's prices.

That, or the trusty mailbox just across the border ;)
posted by Space Coyote at 3:52 AM on February 6, 2004

I just today got hit up for a massive amount of money on two digital cameras being sent from the US. Irritatingly, I've had one for over a year, and had accidentally left it with my parents in California; the other is new. Nevertheless, they charged me £71, which is over half the combined cost of the cameras. (Although *cough* not their standard retail prices.)
posted by bwerdmuller at 5:24 AM on February 6, 2004

Buy the computer in your country of residence. I've had tremendous problems with Apple laptops over the past few years and I've thanked my lucky stars that I have the extended warranty. You should get it too. So sadly you need to buy the laptop in the country in which you plan to get it repaired.
posted by skylar at 7:13 AM on February 6, 2004

That's not true, skylar. My American girlfriend has been staying with me for a few months, and when her iBook logic board died she called Apple and they told her to take to an Apple dealer nearby in Glasgow. They fixed it under warranty, no hassles whatsoever.
posted by bonaldi at 7:15 AM on February 6, 2004

1. Apple may not have to honor some of the provisions of the warranty if the unit's primary "home" is outside the US. Not sure about that though.

2. Do not have it shipped. There is an overwhelming likelihood of a nasty Customs bill if you do. They keep a special eye out for electronics, cameras and other stuff like that.

3. I wouldn't ship a computer unless I were willing to pay considerable extra ££ for overnight or 2-day delivery. I've not shipped a computer a long distance, but I have shipped musical instruments and these are the only methods which have proven trustworthy. By the time you get finished paying for the overnight, and insuring the thing, you might find that it's only a little bit more expensive, and a lot more fun, to take a weekend trip to New York.
posted by Tholian at 7:17 AM on February 6, 2004

Response by poster: Tholian,

Weekend trip had crossed my mind! I could fly there and buy the thing cheaper than I could get it here, but I'd spend so much money in NY in 2 days it'd be self-defeating.

Still, might do it.. Thanks for all the help so far, much appreciated.
posted by ascullion at 7:46 AM on February 6, 2004

Do you not have any way of getting one of the educational models? I don't know about the UK but in Canada they're a few to several hundred dollars cheaper. You just need a student card to get one. But if you know a student, it's pretty simple. You give them the money, they go buy it.

Is VAT tax or customs? Computers are exempt from Customs in Canada, so if I buy from the USA, there's no customs but I do get hit with GST (tax) and a $5 processing fee. However, I'd be paying GST and PST (two taxes) if I bought local, and, it would be on a higher amount.
posted by dobbs at 7:53 AM on February 6, 2004

I third the suggestion of education prices, which saved me a bunch of dough when I bought my iBook.

On the other hand, it does give you a good excuse to come visit New York and have a good time doing it, while picking up a cheap iBook. Instead of thinking of the trip as a chore, think of it as a fun vacation with the added bonus of a cheaper computer.
posted by The Michael The at 8:23 AM on February 6, 2004

Response by poster: I can actually get a discount through my employer, and it's more than the education discounts (I've checked them out this morning) - but it's still cheaper to fly to NY! Astonishing, I know.
posted by ascullion at 8:39 AM on February 6, 2004

ascullion come in two weekends and join us for a get together.
posted by plemeljr at 12:41 PM on February 6, 2004

My understanding is that the import charges people are talking about here are a proportion of the value of the item - so I think you're likely to be stung big - and perhaps actually lose out in comparison to paying UK prices. Also, I'm fairly sure these charges are imposed by customs - so you can say what you like to the post office, but it's not going to help. Postage costs - a separate issue - are likely to be high too. Customs should be able to give you an idea of charges if you get in touch with them.
posted by nthdegx at 1:00 PM on February 6, 2004

I did something similar with my iPod two years ago. They were ridiculously expensive here in Australia (and pretty much sold out everywhere) but I had a friend flying over for a holiday from the U.S. She just unpacked it and carried it in as if it were hers. Worked like a charm.
posted by web-goddess at 5:44 PM on February 6, 2004

You will pay both import duty and VAT unless the package is marked "returning from country of origin." Be prepared to produce a receipt or a _very_ good excuse as to why you don't have one when Customs and Excise ask for one in order to release the item.

Buy local - UK eBay or educational discounts. Alternatively, why not make a long weekend of it and fly your ass out to NY and go and buy the damn thing yerself?
posted by dmt at 7:19 PM on February 7, 2004

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