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.
ARE SMUGGLED / MISDECLARED GADGETS FAKE?
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.
NON-SMUGGLED OFFICIAL LOCAL VERSION PHONES
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.
WHERE TO BUY YOUR GADGETS?
That’s your own personal decision. Do what’s best for you.
KIMSTORE, YOU WILL BE MISSED
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!