Buying a Mac in Singapore

Popular traveller-blogger-journalist and Mac evangelist Adrianna Tan posted in her blog Popagandhi more than a year ago, her tips to those buying their first Mac in Singapore. It’s a very well-done post, and I thought I’ll reproduce it in its entirety here, with permission from her of course.

“Lots of people are buying Macs now. I get calls all the time about that, for buying advice and what to do, so I’m tired of repeating the same process each time. I’ve decided to refer them to this entry from now on (though close friends and girlfriends are exempted).

Off the top of my head, your main choices for “where” to buy them are: (1) Apple Store online. (2) AppleCentres and stores (3) smaller resellers. Firstly, the Apple stores in Singapore are not run by Apple; Apple does not run its own stores outside of the US, UK, Japan, etc. Having worked in Apple retail, it is clear to me that the majority of walk-in browsers associate Apple with the entire store — to the extent of, “This iPod skin is so expensive.. Apple must be making a lot of money from it!” (I have long given up protesting that the ungodly profits iSkin and Xskin must make do not accrue to Apple itself.)

The AppleCentres are under license, and they supposedly recreate the look and feel of an official Apple store (though I’m not convinced). There are smaller resellers, like the ones in Funan Centre or Sim Lim Square, whose main business is in non-Apple products. I’d recommend these places to touch and play with the products upclose, but not to buy from. Why? In (3), I won’t give my money to sales people who don’t care if you buy Apple or Fujitsu, and in (2) I won’t give my money to sales people who don’t know anything about what they’re selling. That’s just me, of course; the other reason is that service is erratic and information usually scarce. One notable exception to (3) is SGL Marketing, whom many of the old Macheads swear by for having good prices and service, possibly since they have always dealt with Macs only.

Do your own homework and research. Some things to remember about buying Macs in Singapore: prices are more or less fixed. For those coming from the world outside Macs, this can be a shock — prices do not vary if you go to smaller resellers, prices do not fluctuate after a few months, and most IMPORTANTLY: when new products are introduced it doesn’t mean the existing one will be available for cheaper. It just means that you’ll miss out on better and newer technology at the same or lower price than what was available.

The one legitimate way to get hefty discounts is to buy through the education store, which is available online all year round. They are, last I checked, sometimes available in the brick and mortar stores, especially during the July-August “back to school” window, but that involves much more paper work and sometimes terms and conditions like having to buy RAM at a markup to enjoy edu prices. If you buy online it’s all clear and easy, and you get it delivered to your doorstep. All full time students of approved institutions apply. If you’re not a student I’ll give you a hint — your numerous cousins and neighbours in primary school to Junior College and polytechnic. If you’re a university student check your school’s deals, which are usually cheaper and/or bumped up with goodies (extra RAM and warranty). All university students are eligible for purchasing through 8flags, as well from from Apple’s Edu store.

Some terms you will come into contact with: AppleCare. Most people find it difficult to grasp the concept of AppleCare. The idea is simple. Every machine gets one year’s warranty. If it’s a desktop, it’s a local warranty. If it’s a portable, it’s a year’s international warranty. Out of the box you get one year’s warranty with the ability to make one phonecall for support or troubleshooting (within 90 days). At the point of purchase you will be asked if you want AppleCare. Applecare extends your phone support, and services/parts warranty to 3 years. See the graph here for a better clue. Applecare is available for between S$100 (iPods) to S$600 (pro systems). Hint: if you buy a PowerBook or a PowerMac together with an Apple Display, the AppleCare plan covers both of them. Also note that if you purchased your desktop somewhere else, i.e. an iMac from Hong Kong, the warranty is covered in Hong Kong. Even purchasing an AppleCare plan for that machine will only extend its local warranty. AppleCare can be purchased and activated anytime within the one year period. At certain major computer shows the only deals are typically AppleCare, rather than on machines; the trend so far has been to be approx. S$88 for iPod AppleCare and about a hundred or two off the machines’. (Is it necessary? For some people. I don’t have it and my machine is still working fine. Then again I like the thought of upgrading too much and don’t care much for long term use. Even so, the resale value of a machine greatly increases with AppleCare, espcially within the second or third year.)

There is no such thing as a warranty card. The warranty begins the day of purchase, typically, and one usually keeps your receipt as proof of purchase.

If you’re in the market for a laptop and an iPod, and you travel, or you have friends who do: the best places to buy are usually the USA, Hong Kong, (and not significantly but still somewhat so) Singapore. Remember what I said about desktop warranties. This is especially true if you have a friend in an American institution of study who can get further discounts, and especially true for the machines at the mid and high end. If you’re purchasing a machine in Singapore, ask the AppleCentre to give you a tax refund slip — it’s only approx. 5%, and you can claim at the airport, but if you’re coming from European cities, that might still work out for certain machines.

Don’t worry too much about your machines being obsolete. Every computer or technological product is obsolete the moment it is made, there will always be something better. If you keep waiting, you may never get what you want (think of the people who have held out for years to buy a G5 PowerBook, when in all that time they could have utlized a lower end machine like an iBook). The key is to buy what you want at that point in time, and if it continues to serve your needs — there really is no need to feel upset about newer machines on the block.

After your purchase, do two things: charge your machine fully, and run Software Update. Wait there’s a third — have fun. If there’s demand I will write another piece about getting started with the Mac from a switcher perspective, this is about all I can think of about the buying process (then again, it may seem simpler to us than it really is). In the meantime, feel free to add and clarify anything you like, and ask any questions. Even if I can’t provide an answer I’m sure my Mac-savvy crowd here will.

Just to clarify, I am no longer working in Apple retail.”

Much of the info in there are still valid, probably except the point about 8flags. 8flags is a computer store in NTU that services NTU students, so you buy from 8flags if you are in NTU. Last I checked, the NTU students hate 8flags. If you are from, or are entering NUS, look for me! ^_^ I’ll be selling at the matriculation fair again this year.

  • Faustine

    Hi there, Thanks for the guide above.. Is it safe to use my relatives / friend’s student card for the Education Discount..

    Do they check the authenticity of the card? And if shipping and billing address and contact person is different from the card holder, is it alright?


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