Sometimes I feel like Zimbabweans have lost their Christmas spirit. It could be the multiple economic disasters we have had to endure but somehow Christmas today has a perfunctory feel to it. The joy of Christmas somehow got left behind with all those merry perfection soap ads.
Blast from the past
Back when I was a kid in the 90s there was magic in the air every December. People would come from the cities to our rural home as my father was the eldest in our clan. There was music, ulululating, a river of drinks, laughter, jesting, presents, meat; lots of meat and meat is a big deal in the rural areas even today. People still have these today but there was also a special sauce besides the overflowing happiness and partying a selflessness a je ne sais quoi. Or maybe its the selflessness of times back then.
Recreating the past
Ever since 2009 I have been trying to recreate that past. Buying Christmas presents is part of the process. Unfortunately with rising liquidity problems and unemployment that process has not been easy on anyone for the past two years or so. When Christmas shopping you have two choices:
- Shop abroad (Chinese shops) and pay low prices and wait patiently for your goods to arrive
- Pay steep local prices
Buying abroad used to be easy but nowadays most banks have curtailed international transactions. There are prepaid cards such as the FBC Prepaid MasterCard but you have to prefund the card using real foreign currency. If you are one of those in the diaspora then you are in luck as you can still easily use your card or PayPal account to shop.
The case for shopping abroad
In any case even if you prefund your account you are likely going to end up saving compared to buying local especially on some products. For example I have seen rubbish Android TV boxes with 512MB selling for more than $100 or more on Ownai and Classifieds yet 1GB boxes sell for $22 on Gearbest. Even if you add shipping costs, VAT and Import duty the price will come nowhere near this.
Also there are some products that you are unlikely to find on local markets. Xiaomi products come to mind. Despite years of the look east mantra we have somehow failed to take notice of this premium brand in our country. Xiaomi is like the Apple/Samsung of China yet their products are scarce in this country despite their lower prices and awesomeness.
Finally shopping online will allow people in the diaspora to buy gifts for their relatives back in Zimbabwe without going through the hoops of buying, gift wrapping and sending the product themselves. Just remember to mark the product as a gift. This will mean no duty for items with a value of $75 or less(last time I checked).
Some of my colleagues prefer Aliexpress but I am a fan of Gearbest. In my experience most of the products that I like are consistently cheaper on Gearbest, support is much faster than say Everybuying.net and should you not receive your products they are likely to refund you without making much of a fuss.
The site has a lot of daily, monthly and holiday deals. I am going to spend the next couple of weeks cherry picking the best deals and sharing them with you.
Awesome deals you might be interested in
- The Xiaomi RedMi 4x with 3GB RAM and 32GB memory and other impressive specs for only $152. You can ship this to Zimbabwe via registered parcel for $2.50. It comes in black, champagne gold, blue green, pink and grey.
- HUAWEI Honor 6X 4G Phablet with 3GB RAM and 32GB ROM at $212 which you can ship for $2.12 to Zimbabwe. Currently only the Silver and Golden versions are available
- 16MP 4K FHD 1080P Waterproof Camera for only $36 which you can ship to Zimbabwe for $4
- Original Xiaomi Mi TV Box with a UK plug for $70 which you can ship to Zimbabwe for $0.19
- Original English Version Xiaomi Mi Gigabit WiFi Router 3 for only $31 and shipping $5.25 to Zimbabwe
Quick tips to shopping on Gearbest
I hope to cover this in coming articles on Christmas shopping on Gearbest but these tips cannot wait:
- Always choose Registered Mail whenever possible. Shipping takes 15-28 days or up to 45 days if there are delays. These are calendar days i.e. weekends and calendar days are included
- This does not take into account processing days. Most orders are shipped out in 24 hours but some take up to 3 days.
- Registered mail allows you to track the progress of your package. All the shipping prices above are for registered mail.
- You can track your packages here
- Never ever choose expedited delivery unless you know what you are doing.
- DHL/FEDEX will charge you/recipient a $30-$50 processing fee for “import processing”.On $10 item that’s just moronic!
- Also in my experience they charge duty even if it’s a gift of less than the stipulated amount. I don’t know why.
- Import duty is levied on FOB value i.e. shipping costs plus value of items. So sending an item via expedited shipping results in a VAT/Import Duty
- I repeat unless you know what you are doing and have done the maths upfront never ever choose expedited shipping. Ndambakuudzwa akaonekwa nembonje pahuma
- Familiarize yourself with the duty for each item. Generally expect to pay anything between 20-60% plus handling costs of $10 for items with a value of $20 or more which are not gifts
- Gearbest accepts PayPal, Visa and MasterCards. FBC, Ecobank and BancABC prepaid cards should work. Prefunded bank cards also work. My bank has a monthly limit of $100 and I was able to use this. So verify your bank limit or prefund your card and let the shopping begin.
Time is of the essence
The Christmas seasons is associated with deals and clearance sales and you have to hurry to take advantage of these. Also shopping early will allow the gift to reach you or your beneficiary in time for the season.
Happy shopping. I will be back tomorrow with more curated gifts.