I moved to Sri Lanka with the naive idea that I could buy most everything I needed on the island. While that is mostly true, I was shocked at the price of goods here, on top of the manufacturer’s retail value, there are additional fees for importers, and various taxes added on by the government at customs which double and sometimes triple prices of goods.
Recently I read an article on Roar about the cost of tech in Sri Lanka, it reaffirmed my own findings on the cost of computers and smartphones. In December I bought a smartphone, mine was busted and I really had no option than to buy a replacement on the island. What I had really wanted was a Google Pixel, but it hadn’t yet released in the country and the cost of having one imported was steep. A friend warned against shipping tech, she said often it never arrives, someone along the chain makes off with your phone.
In the end I settled for a cheap (but incredible) OnePlus 3 – a brand I had never heard of but seemed like a great interim option. I have since come to realise how great the phone is, with high specs on everything. Later out of curiosity I checked the price of one in Australia, it turned out to be AU$200 cheaper than what I had paid.
However beware of cheap phones – they are cheap for a reason. A friend of mine bought a Samsung J1 (if you haven’t heard of the model it’s because a lot of companies make “budget” versions of their phones for developing countries) from a kaday at Liberty Plaza in March. This weekend we spent an afternoon trying to get it fixed. Yes, it’s barely 2 months old and already needs a replacement battery. The shop where she bought it, and had a warranty refused to help saying they didn’t have replacement parts for the model. A short wander around the shopping centre was all it took to find another store with spare batteries. Although it’s easy to get parts here, the hassle of finding them and not having a phone for a week should be avoided at all costs. Another thing to remember, is that there are basically no authorised repair shops here, I think there is one Samsung store and a couple Apple authorised reseller, which means that if you get your phone repaired here, it will void the warranty.
Liberty Plaza seems to be the spot to go if you want a phone, almost the entire second floor is made up of small shops selling phones and tablets. I understand the desire to find the best price, but many of these shops are under the same ownership. If you have broken tech, this is also the place you can bring it to be fixed! Don’t be surprised if you need to walk to another area of the shopping centre to pay for your goods. From what I have heard there are a few major players in the market who control import of tech goods into the country which in part is the reason the cost is so high, more competition would bring down the price.
My brother passed down his laptop to me when I moved, it was on it’s last legs and about two months ago it gave me the blue screen of death. After many failed attempts at Windows Recovery, I gave up and started looking for a new laptop. Chromebooks although light on features had everything I needed, and ASUS was making a cheapy. Reluctantly I checked prices in Sri Lanka, which was about 30 – 40% more than what I would pay at home. I was even desperate enough to consider shipping and checked Amazon, although it turned out they don’t deliver tech to Sri Lanka. In the end I waited for a trip home to buy a cheapie, I would recommend you do the same. Or if you have friends or relatives visiting you, ask them if they would mind bringing one for you.
If you’re thinking of moving to Sri Lanka, don’t make the same mistake I did and expect prices to be the same as at home. Plan ahead and bring what you need!