I have a nice little Canon digital camera that I got for my birthday in 2009. It is an Ixus I camera, which is a tiny camera with a form factor similar to a cellular phone. In fact, when they first see the camera, many people think it is a cellular phone rather than a camera. It’s really a rugged little camera, made all of metal instead of the plastic that you usually see. It’s a pocket sized camera, as you can imagine since it is similar in size to a cell phone. I enjoy carrying this camera around with me wherever I go, so that a camera is always handy to capture a picture that could appear any time.
Lately, though, for six months or so, I haven’t been able to carry my little camera with me, because the battery was dead and would not accept a charge. Oh, I made a bit of an effort to buy a replacement battery for the camera, but could not find one locally. Really, though, the only thing I did was ask at SM Appliance center, where they sell Canon digital cameras, and they did not have a battery, so I put the camera aside and sort of forgot about it.
Last week, I needed a camera for a job that I was doing. I also have a Canon Rebel XT Digital SLR camera, which is what I use for most of my photography needs. However, this particular job required a smaller camera, the SLR was just too bulky. So, I thought about my Ixus and decided to make more of an effort to find a battery for it. I really didn’t mind even getting a generic battery for it, I really didn’t have a need for the original Canon replacement. So, with that in mind, my first stop was to head down to some of the shops in Uyanguren, or Chinatown here in Davao. I spent an hour or so checking out those shops, but could not find any camera batteries at all. I found plenty of shops selling knock-off cellphone batteries, but no camera batteries at all.
Next up, I decided to run to SM City, because there are a number of shops selling digital cameras there, surely one of them must have a battery for this camera! It was a common battery after all. At the first shop I went to in SM, I asked the shop manager, a nice man that I had dealt with before if they had a battery for the camera.
Oh my, that is an NB4L battery, which is our most popular seller! Sorry, we are out of stock, but should have more next week.
Oops, I needed the camera that day, so I couldn’t really wait for next week. As I began to leave, the manager said:
We do have the generic equivalent, though, if you are willing to take that.
Bingo! That is what I was actually planning to buy anyway!
So, I paid for the generic replacement battery, which was P1,475, about $32.50 for the battery, and was on my way. The price seemed high to me, but I needed the battery, and was just happy to have found it.
This morning, out of curiosity I decided to do some checking to see if I could get a price for that battery from some online retailers. I looked on Amazon and I looked on eBay. The price was similar in each place. Generic replacements for that battery (Canon NB4L) ranged from $0.99 up to $5.00 on Amazon’s online store! One place had three replacements for $5.99, or about $2 each. But, there were lots of offerings from Amazon for $0.99. Imagine, I could have bought more than 30 batteries from Amazon for the price I paid locally? And, on Amazon, these $0.99 batteries showed a picture and they were China made knock-off batteries that were the same as I bought locally! Same text, same markings on the battery. 97% lower in price.
A few years ago, when I bought my Rebel XT SLR camera, I ordered some extra battery packs from Amazon. I wanted to be able to carry 3 or 4 batteries with me when I went out shooting photos, so I never ran out of juice. Those generic batteries were $5.99 on Amazon. I had them shipped to me here in the Philippines. The customs charge was over $20 for three batteries valued at $5.99 each. So, customs was more than 100% of the value of the batteries. Wow.
Why are things like this so expensive here in the Philippines? These particular batteries are from China, and the Philippines is much closer to China than the USA is, so it can’t be shipping charges that are bringing the price up so much. Are merchants here just profiteering on the products? Are they unable to negotiate as good of deals as the US companies can? Maybe the US companies are buying much larger quantities, I don’t know. But, when the exact same item is $0.99 in the USA, or $32.50 here, something is just not right.
Does it surprise you? I knew that electronics were expensive here compared to US prices, but this amount surprised me.
Gusto ko maggreet sa akong buotang maestrang bisaya, si Bebe Metillo kay nagbirtdey sya miaging dominggo! Malipyon kaayo ko sa mga leksyon gikan kang Bebe, kay maayong maestra sya! Happy Birthday, Bebe, sorry this is a few days late!