Buying a laptop from the US: not impossible, just whine-worthy

Russell Coker interpreted my post about how laptops are expensive in Australia as a lazy-web request for instructions on how to buy a laptop from the US, and posted accordingly. His blog is down, so I thought I’d clear it up here: I know how to buy a laptop from another country.

It can even be much easier than he suggests: some US sellers will happily post or courier a laptop to me directly, without the need for me to find a friend about to visit Australia. And I can also get someone in the US to take the delivery and re-post it, if I need to. In any event, it comes to Australia, it gets held by Customs, I pay import duties, and it still ends up being much cheaper than buying it from an Australian importer (import duties will be 10% of the purchase price, give or take, but Australian markup for pre-imported laptops over US sale price is closer to 100%).

So why a post at all then? It wasn’t a lazy-web request, it was just a complaint. There’s a cheap method of buying a laptop, in which I shop on US websites after finding one that will take a non-US billing address, bother my friends, spend a lot of time researching the minutiae of warranties (I’m at a loss, for example, for how I check Russell’s claim that ThinkPads have international warranties unless I already own one), spend a bunch more time on Customs paperwork with which I’m utterly unfamiliar and then receive it. There’s an easy method of buying a laptop, in which I walk into an Australian store, give them money and receive a laptop. One takes many hours of my time, one involves twice as much money. And thus a whiny blog post was born.