Saturday, May 22, 2010

Asian Computer Malls

Hong Kong

It’s easier to have your computer repaired in Asia than in America.

Computer repair in the United States can be a chore. If you’re not in the PC business, you don’t know who to call or how to vet their credentials. Then, you have to schedule a time for the computer guy to come over to your house or office. It can’t be good for the environment to have Geek Squad and its competitors driving around the city half the day, and you’re ultimately paying for the tech’s gas and car and travel time.

It’s simpler and cheaper in East and Southeast Asia.

Most towns over a certain size have one or more computer malls. The first floor or two is dedicated to the big brands, with glitzy stores selling Apples and BenQs.

The middle floors are a hodgepodge of stores selling all the hardware, software and service a person could need. In the larger malls, like Pantip Plaza in Bangkok (pictured), you can find everything from mother boards to not-yet-released video games (don’t ask where the copies came from) to parts for handheld units which went out of production two years ago.

The top floors are the smallest of small businesses: one- or two-person firms, renting a few feet of counter space. Each of these retailers usually sells one hyper-specific product or service, like plastic cell phone covers or battery installation.

The computer repair people are sprinkled throughout the middle and top floors. You walk around, checking out their shops and talking to the personnel, who are usually the owners. In selecting a repairman, I apply the logic of the Barber Shop Riddle and look for an unkempt space with stacks of broken PCs. I X the stores which also sell new goods; I want a pure-play shop that makes its money solely from repairs. Then I drop off the balky hardware, leave a deposit, and return at my leisure.

This arrangement is superior to the U.S. system. Multiple vendors are concentrated in one place, vying for your custom. You have choice and bargaining power and a greater ability to judge each vendor’s skill. You shop on your time; no waiting for the repair person to show up. And you control the cost of transporting the PC to the shop.

So, if you have a wiggy notebook or two, bring ‘em along on your next trip to Asia, drop them with a suitable repairman at the computer mall and pick ‘em up before your return flight. Quick and easy.

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Blogger Mark A. Graybill said...

Licensing laws and and fees saw to the small repair shops in the U.S. about 30 years ago. Both the government and the larger companies didn't care for the free market operating at that level.

12:08 PM  

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