If you shop online for your reissues and box sets, it’s quite likely that you purchase regularly from Amazon. It is by far the most popular place to order, and amongst the attractions in terms of buyer experience is the excellent pre-order price guarantee which means you only ever pay the lowest price advertised for your item before release, regardless of the price listed when you made the order.
This is all well and good, but I wonder how many of you automatically shop by default at your ‘home’ country’s amazon site?
When making expensive purchases in particular, it might pay to check out what price other Amazon sites are offering the same product at, because do not assume that the prices are all equal, give or take some small variance for exchange rate fluctuations. There are bargains to be had if you make some comparisons.
For example Peter Gabriel’s So deluxe box is $99.99 on the US Amazon.com, and has been for most of the pre-order period. At today’s exchange rates this is just under £62. However the amazon.co.uk price – for exactly the same product – is £99.99. Americans are getting this box for two-thirds of the price that those from the United Kingdom have to pay.
The big problem with purchasing from Amazon.com, if you are in the UK or Europe, is that import duty is due on the item. You could get lucky of course, but if the item gets picked up by customs, not only is there a chance they will open the package (possibly not handling with care), but any saving you were hoping to make would likely could be wiped out by import duty (which is approximately equivalent to VAT) and ‘handling’ charges levied when the time comes to collect your item from the post office.
The other thing to consider is that if you love getting box sets on or near to the day of release, then planning for your item to cross the Atlantic is going to delay arrival significantly. Of course, you could upgrade to expedited shipping, but that would negate the whole money-saving exercise.
Let’s say you don’t mind waiting, and you get lucky and no import duty is levied. What do you do when you open the item and notice that a CD is badly scratched or your box has a ‘dink’ in the corner that you can’t live with? Not only do you have the massive hassle of getting the item back to the US, but you’d then have to worry about incurring import duty all over again, assuming Amazon.com offered to re-ship your item. A lot of hassle for a £20 or £30 saving.
Sometimes the saving can be large enough to easily cover import duty and still save on the domestic retail price. Amazon.ca (Canada) had the forthcoming Beatles stereo vinyl box set for around 300 Canadian Dollars in early October. That’s approximately £190, a whopping £110 cheaper than the Amazon.co.uk price (it has since gone up).
Let’s look at a current pre-release to see how prices compare. We’ll take the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness 6-disc deluxe box set as our example.
The price on Amazon.ca is currently $120 Canadian which is £74.69 (at today’s exchange rate). The same box on Amazon.com is $133.81 US which is £83.10. If you were to order from Amazon.co.uk you’d have to pay an incredible £140.00, almost double the price in Canada. Obviously, these prices might go up and down at any point, but a pre-order should lock you in to the low price of today. The only proviso is that Amazon have not entered into a contract with you until they have taken the money (i.e. when the item ships) and this allows them to get out of pricing errors when expensive items are listed with insanely low prices.
If you are based in Europe, you can still make savings without the risk of import duty, by ordering from other European Amazon sites (import duty not applicable within the EU). Using the example above, the Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness box is €130.99 in Amazon.de (Germany). That’s £105.29 with shipping in 2-3 days adding only £2.75 to the price. In total that’s £32 cheaper than the UK price without any risks or shipping delays.
It really does pay to shop around. The same item has a price variance across different Amazon stores of over £65. Here at SuperDeluxeEdition we regularly put multiple pre-order links at the end of news and reviews, and it is always worth having a look at prices in other countries to make sure you’re getting the best deal.