lauantai 22. tammikuuta 2011

Ordering stuff from Amazon and Book Depository

A while back I decided I needed a new flash light for geocaching. I compared some products and decided to go for the Led Lenser P7, partly because I had seen one in use and was very impressed by its Cree LED. So, the lowest price for the torch in Finland was 55 €. This led me to search it in foreign online stores and sure enough, offered it for £37.00 which is about 43.50 € so I decided to order it. However, at the final page, just before clicking that button that places the order, the price was displayed as "£37.92". In other words, the price had just gone up by almost a pound, with no explanation whatsoever. Huh?

Naturally I aborted the ordering process and mailed to the Amazon customer support instead. It took them a couple of days to reply, during which time the price of the torch had gone up by a couple of pounds. This is because the prices keep changing constantly according to their availability. Apparently there's nothing new in this. "Thanks." (I then waited for a couple of days for the price to drop back to £37 before ordering the torch.)

The customer support was pretty clueless about my original problem with the price being different at the shelf and at the counter, and I had to find the answer via other means: it turns out the price they show in the store has been calculated assuming the 20% VAT (value added tax) rate in use in the UK. However, in Finland the standard VAT rate is 23% so the difference in the taxes is added into the total at the checkout stage.

I also needed a couple of books, but as the VAT rate for books in the UK is 0% and 9% in Finland, the difference between the displayed and the actual price is a lot larger than with other items. Complaining about this to some friends I was told about another online book store called Book Depository. Both books I needed had a lower price there than in Amazon and Book Depository also has free delivery, so I ordered the books from there.

Morals of the story:

  1. Check the final prices carefully when ordering from one country to another: there may be additional costs in the item prices.
  2. When ordering something from Amazon, wait for a few days and observe the price of the item. You'll get an idea on how the price changes (because it does keep changing) and may save a few dollars, pounds or euros.
  3. Even if Amazon is the best-known book store out there, it's not the only one nor always the cheapest one.

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