When Buying Global Tech, Warranty is King

Jul 20, 2010 10:05 · 598 words · 3 minutes read gadgets travel

In a couple months, I will be heading to Seattle for some internal meetings. I always love going back to Seattle since that’s where my parents live and I still have a bunch of friends in the area. Its also just a whole lot easier to do any technology-related shopping in the US than anywhere else in the world. Its easier and cheaper than anywhere in Europe because there are no decent gadget stores on this continent. While it might not be cheaper, its certainly easier in the US than anywhere in Hong Kong or Tokyo or anywhere else on the Asian continent. Brick and mortar stores like Frys and online retailers like NewEgg are non-existent outside of the US. So this means I need to plan out what I need to get while I am there.

Coming up with a plan for purchasing is not exactly easy. First, I am not made of money so I can’t just buy everything I see. Then I cannot buy anything big since I have to fly back. Plus anything that’s is very expensive is simply not worth buying outside of Europe. Although some might be scared of the customs officials catching them as they come in to the country, I am scared of additional costs of getting something repaired when it dies. If I save 100 euros getting a gadget in the US, but then have to pay 200 in shipping when it needs fixing, the savings is useless.

I found this out when I bought the Creative Zen Vision:M in Singapore. Within 10 days of returning home, the device was dead and needed repair. I had to ship the device at my own expense and deal with figuring out where to send it. The hassle ended up being such a pain that I decided its rarely worth buying expensive tech outside of my home region unless the tech comes with a world wide warranty.

That’s the main reason I travel with Swiss Army brand luggage. It’s the only suitcase I know of with global warranties and global repair centers. I don’t get that with Samsonite, or American Tourister, or Tumi, or pretty much anyone else. The bags last for ages and when there is a problem, a local repair center quickly fixes it and doesn’t charge me.

Apple also has an amazing global warranty. I haven’t had to test it yet, but supposedly AppleCare will take care of the repair where ever I am. Now the people who staff their help line are a bunch of morons, but I trust that the repairmen who will actually fix the laptop are competent.

Buying something like an expensive camera rarely makes sense outside of your region. Nikons and Canons in the US come with US warranties. If your camera dies and you need it fixed after you move to Amsterdam, then ship it back to the US (at your expense) to get it repaired…and good luck on getting customs to realize its not a new camera on the return shipment. When I got the D700, I bought it here in the Netherlands because the savings of getting it in the US just wasn’t enough.

So coming up with something I need in the US might be a bit tough. I already have all the luggage I need. I already have the MacBook and Kindle DX and other good, portable tech. I already have all the tech gadgets I think I need. I guess I’ll just have to go to Fry’s to see what tech I don’t yet know I need.