The Kimstore Raid / Buying from Online Shops


The news that popular online gadget store Kimstore was raided by Customs just broke today.

Like many of you, the news of the raid took me by surprise. Of course, I suspected that most of the gadgets sold at Kimstore were smuggled misdeclared, so that wasn’t the news that surprised me. What I wondered was, why now?

Well, Kimstore has been getting featured a lot lately. Kimstore has received various awards, and was even featured on magazines and TV shows. Maybe it became too hot?

The fact that Kimstore had lasted this long made me think that they had some good connections. What happened to their connections? The online shop has been very popular even back during the Multiply days. Some people on Twitter have been entertaining the theory that Kimstore may not be able to pay the high demands of a protector anymore… Some have been sarcastically commenting that the raiders will be using iPhone 7s already tomorrow…

Disclaimer: As of this writing, there is no proof that Kimstore sells smuggled phones. Everything is still alleged.


While reading through the Twitter feeds on today’s trending topic of Kimstore, I realized that many people did not know the difference between smuggled gadgets and clones, etc…. Some people were upset that the gadgets they bought from Kimstore might be fake because they were smuggled.

I am going to try to explain things based on what I know from my experience as a gadget consumer. I am not saying that what I know is 100% accurate, this is just based on what I have learned through years of buying gadgets. Please feel free to comment below if you have something useful to share.

Smuggled gadgets are not necessarily fake.

If you buy them from a reputable seller, the gadgets are very likely legitimate / original Apple or Samsung products. Not fake. They are just gadgets bought in another country for cheaper and then brought into the Philippines without passing through the Customs procedures, and hence, did not pay Customs taxes. Or, they pass through Customs but are misdeclared to pay lower taxes.

Most of the smuggled / misdeclared gadgets are, of course, not meant for the Philippine market – they don’t have NTC stickers, and sometimes the gadgets are meant for the European market, the Chinese market, or another country’s market. That means the included chargers have plugs that have different “shapes” that are not for the Philippine’s electric outlets. Easy fix – you can buy an adapter for less than P50 at popular hardware stores.

The software can also have some differences, for example, the default language could be French or Chinese or another language. This will only be a problem when you reset your phone to factory settings. After that, you can set the language to English if you can figure out the settings to press. In some rare cases, the software / hardware will be slightly different from a legitimate local version phone and there is a chance you may not be able to use all the functions correctly. For example, the LTE band of the smuggled phone is not supported in the Philippines so you can only use up to 4G.

Smuggled / misdeclared gadgets are usually called grey market gadgets. The brands themselves (Apple, Samsung) are not covering them in terms of warranty. The store you bought it from will usually offer their own “store warranty”.

The main advantage of buying them is: LOW PRICE. You can usually save several thousand pesos. Make sure to check the gadget very well before paying. Take your time, test everything while in the store / meet-up. Getting a replacement / refund for a defective unit can be very problematic. Buy at your own risk.

What are clones?

Uso pa ba ang clones? Clones are fake phones. There was a time when the business of selling clones was very brisk. Clones are cheap knock-off phones that are made to look like other phones. For example, back then, iPhone clones sell for about P6,000-8,000, while Samsung clones sell for around P3,000-5,000. If you look closely and try to use the software, you can see obvious signs that it is not the real thing. The workmanship and the quality of the materials are usually not the same as the real thing. For the most part, the sellers inform customers that the phones are clones, so buyers are aware that they are buying clones. But some sellers try to pass of their clones as the real thing.

Lately, I haven’t seen clones being sold anymore. If you don’t want to spend a lot, just buy the cheap brand phones nalang and use a case to hide the brand’s logo if it is embarrassing. At least they have a brand and an actual office, and customer service. Even if their customer service is bad, at least meron, kaysa wala.


The phones and gadgets sold in the malls and local gadget shops are very likely 100% legit. I assume they pass through the government regulations and pay taxes.

These phones are covered by official warranties, they have NTC stickers and everything, etc… They all meet Philippine standards because these are gadgets configured specifically for the Philippine market. YOU ARE SURE ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE GETTING.

Main disadvantage: They are more expensive.


That’s your own personal decision. Do what’s best for you.


Whenever I am interested in a gadget, Kimstore is usually one of the first places I check to get an idea of the price.

I also check Store C, Store W, Store D and Store H, but Kimstore is like the leader of the pack. Kimstore seems more organized, and replies to texts, that’s why I like it. Mas mabait din, sometimes telling me the price went down by P200 pa nga if their supplier’s price went down. Other shops will not give me the lower price, but still maintain it at the previously discussed price so they will earn the extra P200.

I don’t like Store H, medyo mataray. I have not dealt with Store W and Store D because they have a reputation for bad customer service and for being rude so I avoided them. Store C is straightforward to deal with. Store S has low prices as well, but I have not dealt with them yet.

Kimstore is, for me, the best of the bunch – the most reliable, with the best reputation, but prices slightly more expensive than the others.

I hope Kimstore bounces back from this, although I don’t know if it’s worth it. It might be asked to pay a big amount and it might not come back the same. Baka mahal na.

Don’t post the full names of the stores in the comments, baka ma-raid din. 

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to leave a comment below, I love hearing from you!

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10 thoughts on “The Kimstore Raid / Buying from Online Shops

  1. Gerard

    Misdeclaring shipped items isn’t necessarily illegal. It’s a gray area legal loophole to minimize (not completely avoid) import taxes – keyword is MINIMIZE. Most businesses including Kim Store habitually do this, an open secret so to speak. If the declaration is subtly deviating from the official list from customs it can save you import taxes while barely dodging the razor thin line t of smuggling.

    A rough example is declaring the tires of a Mini cooper as a bicycle tire. (humor me! lol) Now, if this item were regularly declared as the tires of a car vs a bicycle or even a MOTORcycle, the taxes would differ drastically especially when we’re talking about hundreds to thousands of pieces. Technically, the shipment are tires, it’s just not being categorized for the right vehicle but tires nonetheless. This subtlety would then satisfy both parties: The customs would get whatever amount they can from the shipment and the business could shave off the expenses of those taxes without being downright smuggling.

    Although I am unable to find any reference to this, a colleague of mine recalled somewhere, either in a newspaper or on the Kimstore website that Kimstore announced to the public certain individuals who are no longer connected with them. Perhaps this raid (conveniently during the Duterte administration) is somewhat in retaliation from those ex-employees. Just sayin.

  2. James

    I just purchased my iPhone from them less than a month ago. If I encounter any technical issues with my phone, Kimstore will not be there anymore for the warranty. 😭😭😭😭😥😥

  3. Chad

    I once bought a Nexus 7 tab from them. When it broke 2yrs later, we brought it to the ASUS center because they claimed that they can still service the unit provided it had a receipt. I still had it with me but they could not honor it because the receipt did not contain any details about the store it was bought.

    I emailed Kim Store requesting for a more detailed receipt. They never replied. In the end, we just had to pull out the unit because we couldn’t provide the proper purchase details.

  4. goo

    Store C= C*
    Store D= D*
    Store H= H*
    Store W= W*

    Note: I edited your comment so that we don’t expose the stores’ names. I don’t want to get anybody in trouble. The store names are easy to guess if you are a frequent online gadget buyer. No need to advertise the names to people with dark intentions. – The Barat Queen

      1. Barat Queen Post author

        No, I also don’t want to have any potential legal issues or be accused of libel or anything like that. Better to keep it sort of vague. Even though I am not accusing them of anything, it’s just better to be on the safe side.

  5. Grace

    I find it interesting and suspicious that the raid happened close to Chinese New Year. Initially, I thought that they were being victimized with extortion considering how long KimStore has been in business.

  6. AppleLover

    Hi! I believe it’s on business again. I inquired about a very low priced amount posted in one buy and sell app. The price of an Iphone 7 plus 128gb posted on their list is P29990 wherein on other buy and sell apps and in Greenhills it’s priced at P48k. I asked about it knowing that the store is reputable (based on customers’ feedbacks) and the one who texted me asked me if I was aware of what happened and I said yes and she said okay please call this number. I was not able to do so because I was at office and the “representative” responded : “Due to what happened just 4 days ago, Kimstore still accepts orders in a different scheme. For the meantime, we now require an initial payment of at least 50% of the total unit cost. All orders are for deliveries via JRS Express. Same day delivery for Metro Manila clients & next day delivery for provincial clients. If you agree to the terms above, reply with your full name. Thanks!

    Kimstore ❤”. Honestly, when I read it, I immediately was skeptical. This has been a modus for gadget scammers. I want to know if you have known about the store’s “comeback” or maybe horrible scammers are using the store’s name to attract buyers and victimize them. If you have any information, kindly let us know. Thank you!

  7. Allan

    If intentionally misdeclaring items isn’t necessarily illegal, what is it then? If you habitually and for the longest time, you intentionally keep on misdeclaring items isn’t necessarily illegal, what is it then?


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