Ian and Janice go to Hong Kong
Today was the day I had been waiting for. I had been holding off buying anything electronic until we visited Hong Kong. It was quite a big list of stuff, mainly Apple products and my credit card was itching to be used.
It's not that they sell discounted Apple products, it's that there is no sales tax or vat so you a saving around 20 percent.
We were staying on Conduit Road in the Mid Levels on Hong Kong Island. We were only a 5 minute walk from the half mile long escalator which brings you down to Central. In the mornings it runs down and then they reverse it around 1030 am to travel uphill.
When you get to the bottom, the Apple store is only.a ten minute walk straight ahead, although we did get a little lost on the way to its location in the IFC Building.
It is huge, it's 2 floors with an impressive glass spiral staircase between the two floors. It's also very busy all day so allow for delays in selecting and paying. Pre visit, I had seen several complaints that the stair case is not "female friendly" and there have been complaints, but when you look closely its actually not fully transparent glass.
The Apple Store in the IFC Building on Hong Kong Island
Most people have visited an Apple store and its the same layout in them all. The trick is to actually get to an advisor and its not easy as they are so busy.
When we went, the iPad 4, the new iPhone 5 and the iPad mini had just been released and I had all on my shopping list.
I had been confidently told that getting them all back into the UK without paying duty was easy. Our host assured me that the early morning inbound flight to Heathrow was hardly ever checked by customs. He was right but at the time I was still a little apprehensive about it all.
We eventually commandeered an available sales assistant and very quickly bought 2 minis, 2 iPad 4s, an Apple TV and an iMac laptop plus bits and pieces. The assistant used a handheld cash machine to drain my card and off we went clutching a big Apple bag of White Apple boxes. He offered to take us to the service area to set them up but we wanted them boxed for the flight so we passed on the offer.
The iPhone 5 was sold out and he advised us to go on line and enter the daily lottery. You put in your details, the spec you wanted and every day some lucky people "win". Unfortunately we did not.
There is speculation that a 3rd floor will open when the IFC is expanded.
Next stop was the Wanchai Computer Centre on Hennessy Road. We jumped a bus and in 15 minutes we were stood outside. It appeared even busier than the Apple Store! You can take the MTR to Wanchai, take the "A4" exit from the station and then the entrance is facing you.
Up the escalator into something I have never seen anywhere in Europe. Aisles and aisles of stalls all selling cameras, phones, laptops, anything electrical. Where to start! You would need a day to get around the place.
Wanchai Computer centre in Hong Kong
You only have to pause here and they engage you in conversation, albeit in a nice way. My view is that I would not buy anything "important" here as I soon realised that they try to talk you out of whatever you want by telling you there is a better version or make.
There are no prices and you have to ask. Once engaged they will talk the pants off you and appear to know their stuff.
It was very good for peripherals and we bought iPad covers, screen protectors and iPad keyboards all which are still going strong to this day.
Conclusion: You have to do your research here before you go otherwise my impression is that you could be financially stung. They are fantastic sales people :)
The day after, I realised I had bought the wrong iMac spec. Back to the Apple store we went and within 5 minutes it had been effortlessly exchanged. I found the staff to be most knowledgeable and helpful. A very pleasant experience.
The IFC is a great shopping centre so make sure that you allow time to visit it. We found a wine bar where you buy by the glass using an electronic card to dispense and pay for the particular wine that you want. Very impressive range too but not cheap!