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[INDIA] new options to import stuff easily
[INDIA] new options to import stuff easily
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Old 4th January 2010, 09:30 AM   #1
tcpip is offline tcpip  India
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Default [INDIA] new options to import stuff easily

I discovered that a few new options have come up for Indian residents to import stuff from the US/UK and elsewhere. I thought they may be of great value to diyaudio friends. I wrote to a few friends around, and they did not appear to have heard of these things, even though they are "public knowledge". So I thought I'll post here.

First, there's a new service from Citibank India, for Citibank credit card holders. It's called Citi Globeshopper. This service is by a private company (DHL Borderlinx) in conjunction with Citibank, for Indian residents, but is modelled along the lines of Singapore's VPost service. Each Citibank card holder can register (free of charge) and will be given a unique postal address in the US, and another in the UK. You can order online from any vendor, pay using your Citibank card, and ship to this address. This helps you buy from vendors who will only ship to the "48 states in continental US." Your goods land up at this postal address, and are held there in a warehouse till you ask them to ship to your address in India. Holding in their warehouse for up to 30 days is free. You can order multiple packets from multiple sources, and they'll all get consolidated in this warehouse. Once you ask them to ship to India, they'll make a large packet out of the whole thing and ship to you. They'll pay Customs for you, and deliver to your doorstep. The shipping charges are much lower than what you'd pay to ship a few books from Amazon by international courier. They won't tell you how much Customs Duty you'll have to pay --- you'll get to know the amount only when the goods enter the country.

The second option is an interesting wrinkle on Ebay. Ebay India has a new service called Global Easy Buy (go to the Ebay site and look for this icon). This gives you a window to a subset of items being sold on American Ebay. You can search for items, drill down through categories, and read the descriptions just like normal Ebay US, but the price quote will be in INR. This is an all-inclusive price, including (hold your breath) Customs duty and shipping. This is much easier to use than the Citi Globeshopper, but you are restricted to only one subset of Ebay items, not any other merchant.

There's also a third source of goods, called 20North but I don't know much details about them. They seem to be offering a range of goods from the US, and they'll allow you to pay in INR and will deliver to your Indian address.

I have never bought from any of these sources. I have no professional or other link with any of them. You can check out Ebay Global Easy Buy and 20North any time by just checking out their Websites. I've registered for the Citi Globeshopper --- maybe I'll get a few books and DVDs from Amazon, just to try things out.

Hope some of you find this useful.
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Old 4th January 2010, 01:47 PM   #2
pjp is offline pjp  India
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Hi tcpip,
I don't understand this. Whatever you have described - whether we import stuff ourselves or through Citibank, it still needs to pass through customs.
And in my experience, the problem has never been shipping to India, it has always been the sticky fingers of the customs department.

How do these services you've mentioned help with that ?
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Old 4th January 2010, 02:12 PM   #3
tcpip is offline tcpip  India
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjp View Post
I don't understand this. Whatever you have described - whether we import stuff ourselves or through Citibank, it still needs to pass through customs.
And in my experience, the problem has never been shipping to India, it has always been the sticky fingers of the customs department.
Based on my experience, I do not agree. For every shipment which has faced problems with Indian Customs, a few have come through without the slightest problems.

In my opinion, the Indian customer procuring small items from online merchants overseas faces the following problems:
  • Many merchants won't accept payment from a "foreign" (to them) credit card
  • Many merchants won't ship to a non-US delivery address
  • Shipping rates to India from North America or Europe are very high for small items. And the cheap shipping options (air mail) may have goods stolen. (I've lost goods sent through air mail.)
  • We need an international credit card and must pay in forex to pay for the goods.
  • We need to pay (possibly high) Customs duty.
  • Customs chaps sometimes act funny, ask for illogical/incorrect duty payment or paperwork.

Out of all these, I feel that the Citi Globeshopper option addresses all problems other than (i) need for a US credit card, (ii) payment of Customs duty, and (iii) Customs chaps who sometimes act funny.

And a good international courier like DHL/Fedex/UPS usually manages to neutralise weird Customs chaps who act funny.

I still remember how my Jordan JX92S pair of drivers came through Customs with zero delay and zero duty. The Customs chaps said that this small quantity can't have any commercial value, so they just let them through. Such things happen quite often.
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Old 8th February 2010, 10:27 AM   #4
linuxguru is offline linuxguru  India
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcpip View Post
I still remember how my Jordan JX92S pair of drivers came through Customs with zero delay and zero duty. The Customs chaps said that this small quantity can't have any commercial value, so they just let them through. Such things happen quite often.
Actually, this is fast becoming the norm. Customs clearance in India is certainly becoming easier and quicker than in the past, especially for online purchases of items in small quantities and relatively low value (say, below a few hundreds of dollars). Shipments below Rs.10k in value for personal use are getting cleared without duty in most cases, and those above that value are being assessed for duty only for the value above Rs.10k. I was pleasantly surprised with my recent customs experience on an EBay purchase of a camera lens of about $300 in value - I was assessed duty of about Rs.2200/- net, which is perfectly reasonable.

It's certainly a far cry from the early '70s, when electronic items were generally banned, even in personal baggage. They would open and count the number of transistors in pocket radios and assess duty on each transistor (as protection to PSUs ECIL and BEL, which manufactured germanium transistors at that time). Calculators were nearly impossible to import legally, because their transistor count was huge; just forget about computers.

The irony is that this liberalization is happening just when a wide range of imported components and subsystems are now available at retail locally at places like Lamington Road and Ritchie Street. The thrill of obtaining some high-quality surplus drivers on EBay for a song is somewhat attenuated when you can buy an entire set of branded Jamos locally for well under Rs.10k.
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Old 9th February 2010, 03:43 AM   #5
tcpip is offline tcpip  India
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Originally Posted by linuxguru View Post
The irony is that this liberalization is happening just when a wide range of imported components and subsystems are now available at retail locally at places like Lamington Road and Ritchie Street. The thrill of obtaining some high-quality surplus drivers on EBay for a song is somewhat attenuated when you can buy an entire set of branded Jamos locally for well under Rs.10k.
I agree with your observations, but I am sure DIYers will have a lot of items to import which are simply not found on LRd. Good speaker drivers are a good example.

Basically, LRd (and their equivalents in other cities) cater to the pro-audio market, aimed at sound reinforcement apps. That's the only segment of the audio industry where there's money. Restaurants, discos, banquet halls, auditoria, stadia (outdoor shows) and the like. Therefore, this means that you'll get Peavey and Selenium woofers (even 15" and 18") fairly easily for the right price. And of course you'll get a lot of Chinese drivers. Similarly, you'll get excellent rack-mount power amps, mixers, etc, for the same market. But there's no way any LRoad chap will offer stuff used primarily by the high-end builder.
No ScanSpeaks or Dynaudios, ever.
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