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Exchange Rates - Buying tech in other countries

by MacHugger / September 15, 2006 8:24 AM PDT

So a South African co-worker showed me an example of why Ubuntu came to be. Many South Africans also hate Microsoft but another alternative - The Macintosh - is ridiculously expensive there.

He showed me that a base model MacBook ($1100 US) would really be about 8000 Rand. But on the website, it sells for closer to 11,300. So even though price/performance for Macs in the US has come inline with PCs, it is still almost double the cost for a South African to buy a Mac than an equivalent PC.

A similar PC laptop still costs about 6000 Rand, which is crazy expensive relative to their cost of living but at least it's a little within reach.

Is it like this in all countries who have a lower currency relative to the U.S. dollar?

One begins to see why the $100 laptop project would be a welcome thing worldwide if it were able to get off the ground.


-Kevin S.

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currency conversion
by borisgodanov / September 17, 2006 3:41 PM PDT

6000Rand would convert to about $820.

For an accurate converter see www.xe.com/ucc

Brandon the archaeologist

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Instead of a $100 laptop.....
by cardsbb9 / September 18, 2006 1:19 AM PDT

How about paved roads, or clean water?

This idea for a $100 laptop is just crazy. It would do the poor children of the world a lot better to just buy them tablets of paper and pencils and a kit to sterilize drinking water.

These kids are going to sell the $100 laptops on the black market and buy food and clothes with the money. They aren't going to use them, themselves.

All those $100 laptops are going to do is increase the amount of poorly written spam that gets sent. No one is going to take the time to track down some obscure spammer in the Kenya plains. And the first thing people will do with these things is try to figure out a way to make money with them. The lure of fast easy cash by spamming the world will cause these $100 laptops to be the cause of a flood of new spammers.

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Believe it or not
by MacHugger / September 18, 2006 5:11 AM PDT

Keystroke, I actually had a similar opinion regarding the $100 laptop initiative. I always though it was pretty much doomed from the start and the potential for corruption of what seems like a very noble effort was just way too much of a possibility.

However, it is interesting to see how incredibly expensive technology can be in other parts of the world, especially where exchange rates are much lower than the countries producing the technology.

I would have expected a place like South Africa to be ok in that regard but if the average citizen there is paying half a year's rent on a computer, it's easy to see why technology is so unevenly distributed around the world.

-Kevin

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60% Tax in Brazil
by cars4less201 / September 18, 2006 5:10 AM PDT

Down here all the tech stuff are charged a 60% tax...

And if you try do it yourself, for some stupid reason the stupid brazilian goverment charge you tax on the shipping! It's just way dumb.

Some time ago I bought a Memory Card reader online. The import law says that if you buy something under Us$50, you won't be charge. So I bought this card reader for Us$39 and had do pay Us$29 for shipping.

That would still be cheaper than here. But the total amount was Us$68 bucks, due to shipping.

Few weeks later the post office sent me a letter saying that I had retained merchandise and I had to go pay the taxes. I went to the post office and instead of charging 60% of the ammount that was over the 50 allowed they charged me 60% over the Us$68.

Now the price of the 39 bucks memory card reader was Us$108, WITHOUT ANY CURRENY CONVERSION (be aware)!!!

Now my new gadget was way expensive than before, and just to finish it I had to pay for some dumb postal service for holding my stuff, like 7 Reais (BR Currency), wich is about Us$3...

Well as you can see buying tech stuff on a third world country sucks...

BTW, that base model MacBook here costs R$ 6.800 if you buy it legal, around Us$3.000... But you can buy it ilegal (contraband), without warranty or anything for R$4.000, something around Us$1.900.

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Whopping US$ 1386.48 with taxes in Mexico
by JegroVzla / September 18, 2006 6:01 AM PDT

MA254LL/A MacBook (White/13.3"TFT/1.83GHz/512MB/60GB/Combo/iSight/Front Row and Apple Remote) Spanish MSRP US$ 1.205,64

I'd be happy if I could find a reseller that actually sell at MSRP, most of the times they charge a lot more. And there's 15% tax on almost everything down here.

Anyhow that's between 1 to 3 times the monthly income of a working person.

So as the Brazilian guy said, you got to become a customs expert if you'd like to geek out in the third world besides starving for months to afford your gadgets.

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If there are such excessive import taxes....
by cardsbb9 / September 18, 2006 6:14 AM PDT

If there are such excessive import taxes around the world, and it is causing goods to be too expensive to buy..... why isn't there a push-back from the citizenry? Why do you stand for it?

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Well...
by cars4less201 / September 18, 2006 8:21 AM PDT

I have a lot of tech stuff I have to say, but the only thing that I bought on store here was my 29" TV.

Last year some *** broke into my house and stole pretty much all the good stuff I had. So I went to buy a new desktop PC.

I ended up buying a good one for R$4.000 (around Us$ 1900), the same computer from Dell Brazil would cost me R$12.000. Why I paid a cheaper price? As said you can buy stuff that are legaly imported with warranty and everything else or you can buy it cheaper.

I didn't had money and I needed a good PC, so I went and bought it cheaper, I was luck to not have any problem yet.

So basically those that need the stuff and don't have the money usually don't pay the excessive taxes, they just buy smuggling goods. Due to that the goverment don't get money and charges more and more on taxes, and here we go again...

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Broken systems
by MacHugger / September 18, 2006 8:39 AM PDT
In reply to: Well...

It's always amazing to me when government policies end up creating an illegal market and give business to criminal organizations.

I don't smoke pot but I personally don't think it's much more dangerous than alchohol (except for the carcinogenic effect of breathing smoke). And yet, because the government has made it illegal to purchase, criminals end up making millions (likely billions) selling it illegally instead of it being taxed and regulated for purity and "safety."

As for super high taxes, yeah... beyond a certain point it becomes absurd and unfair and past the point where people will agree to pay it so they seek alternative methods of purchase, even if it's illegal. It becomes easy to justify the "criminal activity" of purchasing something that way because for many people, such a heavy tax is even more criminal.

-Kevin S.

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all countries do it
by SantiagoCrespo / September 18, 2006 8:52 AM PDT
In reply to: Broken systems

to subsidize their local economies.
Germany does it with anything that contains sugar in it. (I kid you not)
Brazil does it with electronics.
My country does it with CRT TVs, Meat derivates and cars (except cars from Brazil, since there's a trade agreement).

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Smugglers
by SantiagoCrespo / September 18, 2006 8:45 AM PDT

on legally bought items, you can expect to pay as much as a 30% overprice when compared to the US, on the other hand, illegaly imported goods (specially flash-based mp3 players) can be even cheaper.
I do not buy ilegally imported goods, since I'm feeding thieves, although I get most of my tech directly from the US, because my father comes down here almost every three months, and he brings the stuff with him.

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We have no tax on computers!
by hillhiker / September 18, 2006 11:32 AM PDT

In Trinidad and Tobago the government decided that it wanted the population to become computer literate so it removed all taxes/import duties on computers and peripherals. This made computers more affordable even though 6.3 of our dollars equal 1 US dollar.

A $1,000US laptop will sell for about $8,000 Trinidad dollars after you factor shipping and reseller markup. A minimum wage salary is about 2,000 Trinidad dollars.

I suppose if we had had a local computer manufacturing industry to protect then the situation would be different.

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If you have friends or family that visit...
by NewOrderrr / September 18, 2006 12:18 PM PDT

My mom used to go back and forth to Hungary (where she was born) from USA every spring and fall. She'd always bring 'gifts' to people there, and if someone wanted something, she'd buy it here and either have them send money or get the money when she got to europe. She once managed to get a NTSC/PAL VCR and some movie tapes in her luggage to take over there.

I don't know if customs checks to see if you bring valuable stuff home with you (I haven't been overseas since I was six) but if you're talking small 'gadgets' that don't take up much weight, try that route if you know people travelling back and forth. Try the gadget when you get there and if it's broken, oh well, at least bring it back and return it to store.

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