Would you pay $10,000 for a hand-delivered iPad? That’s what some hopeful iPad entrepreneurs are banking on. Online retailers are jacking-up iPad prices after Apple announced a delay of the international launch of the iPad due to unexpected demand. With no iPads coming to Europe, Asia, and Australia until late May, online retailers stand to make big profits by shipping Apple’s newest device at a premium to customers outside the U.S. who can’t wait for the iPad to become available at home. Current online prices range from a relatively reasonable mark-up of $40-$100 to three times the iPad’s retail price or more.
We have a look at a few of the options for impatient Aussies:
The grey market
Resellers of popular electronic products like the iPad occupy the so-called “grey market” where legal goods can be sold at a significant mark-up through unauthorised or unintended distribution channels. Devices like Apple’s iPhone and Amazon’s Kindle have been sold through grey markets for big money in countries like China, and the original Sony PSP also hit the grey market shortly after it launched in 2004.
The apparent scarcity of iPad devices could prompt a veritable gold rush for electronics profiteers, including private sellers looking to make a quick buck and established businesses setting prices according to demand.
A quick search on Google Shopping led us to B4utele.com, an online retailer that is selling a 64 GB Wi-Fi only iPad for about $1,350 — an almost $500 mark-up from the original price set by Apple. One particularly inventive eBay reseller is offering to hand deliver a 64 GB Wi-Fi only iPad anywhere in the world for a mere $10,000. Crazy mark-ups aren’t just for personal shoppers either — eBay has many resellers offering bulk sales of ten 64 GB iPads for as much as US$11,000. That works out to US$1100 per iPad, a nearly 37 percent markup from Apple’s standard price of US$700.
Local retailer MobiCity is offering the iPad for sale at $949 that they promise is in stock and ready for delivery. We’re not sure how long delivery is likely to take, as MobiCity haven’t replied to our email, but this could be a quick option for anyone who just can’t wait.
Shipping redirection services
Of course, there are many iPad prices that aren’t as outlandish as those detailed above, and some Australian customers are finding more reputable ways to get their hands on the iPad. There are many concierge services that help international users purchase products online, ship them to a US address, and then forward the purchases to the customer’s international address.
UPDATE: Apple appears to be cancelling iPad orders to be shipped to these addresses. Order with caution, and be aware that your order may not go through. Here is the email Australian Macworld received:
Thank you for your recent Apple order.
To ensure that all customers are given equal opportunity to acquire this
product we have limited the amount available per customer. Therefore,
this order has been cancelled.
If you have questions, you may reach us at 1-800-676-2775 between
8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. PT Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. and
4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
We apologize for any inconvenience caused.
Apple Online Store Customer Support
We spoke to Scott, a representative of Ship2Me, who claims that his company is the leading shipper from the US to Australia, and that around 60% of its customers are Australians. Signing up is easy (we just did it), and there is an option for a completely free US address via their Forever Free option.
“It is as simple as completing our online registration form. Once signed up, our members are free to use their new US address immediately for purchases from any US stores,” says Scott. Importantly, “while it is not required at signup, we do require a valid government-issued identification to verify identity prior to shipping any items.”
On the topic of iPads, he notes that they tend to arrive a week after ordering. Accessories tend to ship faster, so Ship2Me is offering free consolidation for Forever Free members who purchase an iPad (normally not available on the free membership).
Ship2Me uses United Parcel Service (UPS) as its international air courier, and the packages take 3-5 days to Australia (3 to major metro areas, 5 to outlying locations). The iPad itself ships as a 2kg package, and Forever Free members pay $70.70 postage (Premium members have a reduced postage fee of $50.50). Insurance is also available for $1 for every $100 of value (so $4 for a $499 iPad).
The representative informs me that Ship2Me has had no issues with shortage of stock — members’ orders have arrived within the date given by the Apple Store online. Normal policy is to never charge a client’s credit card before sending an invoice, but there is an option to preauthorise the amount so that the iPad can be sent the same day Ship2Me receives it.
Shipments under AU$1000 (which should be all models) are tax and duty free for private shipments. So a 16GB iPad would be US$499 plus US$70.70 shipping (around $610).
Update: Despite Apple cancelling orders to be delivered to bulk shipping addresses, Ship2Me is still offering iPads for sale here. Its Shop4Me service costs a little bit more, but means Ship2Me staff will either order an iPad online (costs extra 10% of item) or purchase one in store for you (costs extra 25%). Shipping is the same as above. Thanks to Scott, we scored a 16GB model a couple of days after ordering.
There are a number of other websites that offer the same service, but none of them got back to us, so we can’t comment on their service. A selection of these include: www.shipito.com, www.myUS.com, and www.borderlinx.com. Let us know in the forums if you’ve used any of them before.
Run from Bendigo in Victoria, PriceUSA offers a shipping service from the US that you can use for just about anything. All you have to do is go to the PriceUSA website, and fill out an order form. Aside from your own details, all you need to do is list the coveted item’s price, US shipping, and detail the item name, provide a weblink to the item, and decide how many and what size or colour you’re after. The service takes out the difficult step of ordering the product yourself online (as some retailers might not accept Australian credit cards).
We emailed PriceUSA for iPad details a few weeks ago — and received a prompt reply from Carolina Tillet, who runs the site. At the time, we didn’t take it further, opting instead to wait. But the thought of an extra month is killing us, and we’re kicking ourselves that we didn’t order weeks ago.
There are a number of shipping options through PriceUSA for a variety of prices and delivery times. To give an idea, the quote we originally received for a 16GB iPad was around AU$660. Obviously, pricing fluctuates with the Australian dollar, so you’d need to submit your own query.
PriceUSA also offers the benefit of being a local company. They are upfront about their address and contact details, which might make the process a little less nerve-wracking for some. The only problem is that they’re not currently taking orders, and don’t plan to do so until they can be sure that stock is available.
Easier for Aussies
Thankfully, for most of these options, there seem to be few problems for Australians importing their own iPads. However, some international customers are having a harder time getting their shiny new Apple toy delivered to their home. Israel, for example, is currently banning any iPads from entering the country whether the iPad comes through the mail or in a passenger’s carry-on luggage.
If you’re planning a trip to the US to score your own iPad, make sure it will be welcome wherever else you stop off along the way.
What about warranty?
Good news, folks! Unlike iPods and iPhones before it, the iPad comes with an international warranty. That means if you get one from the US and it has a fault, it will be covered in Australia. The one caveat is that this is only the case after the iPad is released here. Until then, you would need to ship your iPad back to the US for service. The full warranty can be viewed on here (PDF link).
[Article updated at 10:50am AEST 18 April to reflect limits on shipping being imposed by Apple.]
[Article updated at 12:50pm AEST 19 April to reflect extra service offered by Ship2Me.]