Buying a laptop in New York

  puffadder 14:22 05 Dec 2006

Off to NY in a couple of days & I was thinking of buying a laptop over there as the dollar is so low right now.
Any compatability issues (apart from the power lead!)I should be aware of?

  wee eddie 15:07 05 Dec 2006

I believe that you are only allowed to import £140 of goods without being liable to VAT.

The keyboard is different.

If anything goes wrong. How are you going to take it up with the Seller?

  rmcqua 15:34 05 Dec 2006

I bought my E-Machines laptop (bought in the USA when I used to live there) back with me. No problems of any kind (just needed a UK mains lead/plug). It was just over 1 year old when I returned, so warranty was not an issue.
As far as VAT is concerned, I'm not advocating that anyone should break the law but, when I used to be based in the UK and travelled a lot, I was never questioned once about my business laptop in several hundred arrivals at LHR/LGW/MAN.

  amonra 17:17 05 Dec 2006

If you can live with the US keyboard, then go ahead. The mains plug is no problem, just cut off the US 2 pin and fit a 13 amp plugtop. Most power units are 110/240v. I have never had my laptop queried by customs, just "dirty" the case a bit.

  Kate B 17:42 05 Dec 2006

Even with paying the duty you'd probably make a saving as the pound is so strong at the moment.

  spuds 17:50 05 Dec 2006

The warranty issue would be the main problem. Nothing like having a failed bargain priced laptop, then find that the savings made, no longer apply.

Regarding bringing in items from abroad, always allow extra funding, should the customs require extra payment, otherwise the item could be confiscated. I was caught out once with a 'used' item. Declared at Heathrow, and the custom's officer agreed the item had been used, but as no receipt was available, decided to look in his little black book, which gave all details of the item. We agreed on a fair 'import' price, and that was it, two satisfied people.

  Forum Editor 18:38 05 Dec 2006

I travel through Heathrow a lot, and I know that the Customs people have a habit of suddenly picking someone out of the crowd. It's happened to me on two occasions, and had I been importing a laptop from America I would have been liable to pay the duty and the VAT. Don't be guided by people who tell you to "dirty the case a bit", they won't be standing with you when the customs official checks the machine's serial number against the database. Honesty really is the best policy where Customs are concerned - they can turn very nasty indeed if they catch someone trying to make fools of them, they've seen all the tricks in the book, and then some.

There's also the problem that, should anything go wrong you won't be able to benefit from UK consumer law. You'll be reliant on the manufacturer's warranty, and you may find that the UK side of the company won't touch a machine that was bought in America.

Proceed with care - if importing laptops was really such a good idea everybody would be doing it.

  jorel 21:29 05 Dec 2006

I agree with the above, and would add: don't pay the first price you are quoted if you are buying it in a private store as opposed to a branch of a superstore. I have always found that smaller store owners will often come down in price quite a bit if you haggle (I told the guy the price was way more than I could afford and I got $150 reduction when I bought one).

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