Not long back, it was only the very affluent and well-to-do who could afford the luxuries of a smartphone. However, with the advent of low-cost manufacture in China, this very luxury is now seen as a necessity; right from your sabziwallah to your laundryman has a smartphone.
The more adventurous among us soon discovered a very exciting market, which involved importing a device from China at one’s own expense and risk.
Although there were Indian brands offering similar devices, but invariably what you got from China looked better, at least on paper, at the same price point.
Image courtesy: stophavingaboringlife.com
Many like me have spent a good thousand bucks to get devices imported from China, with help from e-commerce sites like DealXtreme, AliExpress, etc. There was a period when it really made sense to get yourself a device shipped; equivalent hardware, if bought locally, would cost quite a quid more. However, with domestic manufacturers fast catching up, it hardly makes any sense to import, say a phone, from China anymore. Here are 5 reasons why.
1. Shipping Hassles/Customs Duty
Although one-time buyers might be lucky enough to give the customs scanner a miss (sporadic), but if you’re planning to continue your buying spree you are bound to raise eyebrows at the Customs Dept. and end up in their scanner.
Another thing that is worrysome is the burden of having your device shipped to you on YOUR risk. Since most importers undervalue their shipments in order to avoid the customs scanner, this also means that their parcel gets a lower insurance of a mishap takes place.
2. Seller Fraud
With global commerce getting easier by the day, con artists who’re looking to make a quick buck find unassuming buyers with utmost ease. Although sites like AliBaba and AliExpress have a points system that can be used to scrutinize a seller, many first-time buyers can find it overwhelming which makes them make a decision without thinking enough.
Although this is in no way to suggest that the market itself is a scam, there are a few anti-social elements present which can cause damage to this system.
3. Warranty Issues
This one’s probably thought of well before making a purchase. Although warranty is usually not an issue with low-cost items like lighting, tools, etc., it can be a major problem when the item in question is a smartphone/tablet. We admit that the quality of Chinese produce has gone up by miles in the past few years, but no one can take for granted the error caused by human or machine.
Sellers do a thorough check before shipping your device; but damage may be caused in transit or even after delivery. The only option left with you is to send back the device to China, which more often than not isn’t worth it.
4. Domestic Devices at Par Already
1 year back, when domestic manufacturers were offering only dual core MT6577 powered phones, Chinese were already selling quad core MT6589 phones at lower costs. It made great sense to get one shipped from China, for you not only saved on some bucks but you also got hold of better tech.
However, with the passage of time and the newfound success that manufacturers like XOLO and Micromax saw, it was possible for Indian manufacturers to outsource manufacture to Chinese OEMs.
In layman terms, Indian vendors teamed up with Chinese manufacturers and offered what Indians had always been looking for – latest tech, domestic availability and (at least on paper) domestic warranty. This by far, according to me, is the biggest reason in prompting people to go for Indian-branded phones.
5. Non-availability of Spares
Although point #3 (warranty) and this are closely related, it does make sense to mention the non-availability of spares, or even accessories for phone shipped from China in India. Say for example, your Chinese smartphone’s digitizer (touch panel) gave up on you; you will have no option but to either (i) Kiss your phone goodbye, or (ii) get the damaged part shipped from China again (to which more or less all these risks apply).
You might manage using your phone for a good few months without damaging anything. But one fine day when you get bored of the looks (or wish for extra protection), and want a flip cover for your phone, the only way out would be importing from China.
Although there are innumerable other hassles one has to face while shipping internationally, the prospect of buying from China, thanks to the low cost and innovation, will always be exciting. However, one has to be wise and draw a definitive line at where one should stop; this can be a certain value, item, and whatnot.
Have you bought from China before? If yes, let us know of your experience by commenting below!