Sunday, March 6, 2011

How has improved my life

Few years back I was desperately trying to purchase my first ever DSLR (Digital Professional camera) of Nikon. As it was way too expensive in Pakistan, I considered purchasing it from USA via my cousin, which would then be brought to Pakistan by anyone who would be coming here. For this end, I had accumulated Rs.50,000, a handsome amount by my standards. In USA, much to my chagrin, the rates were similar to those in Pakistan. It was then that my good cousin, an American citizen by birth, asked me to check out the prices at, a website she claimed had the most competitive edge in the market. Despite reservations I checked the prices for Nikon D70s model and to my delight the rates were really very competitive – best anywhere I had seen. I clicked and ordered the camera and my love affair with photography continued. And it still does. Since then, not surprisingly, I have been hooked to Amazon website, arguably the world’s largest online retail store.

Living in America or Canada helps when you want to purchase goods from If you don’t live there, at least you should have friends or relatives who live there and who appear in Pakistan from time to time. The idea being that you can just order about anything to their addresses in USA or Canada, receive the goods there and when they return to Pakistan, you can have your items delivered, without the agony of paying extra bucks for transportation to Pakistan. I have noted, for all the goods and without any exception, that Pakistan is considered as a country where the rates for delivery are the highest – at par with unstable states like Somalia or Libya. This clearly means that the items delivered to these and some other states do not reach their destination in proper condition as described by the seller so these sellers have to transport their goods using elite services like DHL or UPS. Hence the costs. Therefore, since that day in 2006, I have ordered all accessories (camera or otherwise), bags, shirts, beauty creams and all my books from to one of the three addresses in USA. From there these items are brought down to my home in Karachi by anyone who is unfortunate enough to be the first one coming! This time around I ordered 15 books, some of them really bulky, in second hand condition (good to acceptable but never torn) from to my friend’s house in Chicago. He later ordered 7 of them to Florida address of another friend of mine whose mother was coming to Pakistan for a wedding. I received my books gratefully without paying an extra penny as transportation costs. (Delivery of a book within USA costs USD 3.99 no matter what the size or origin of the book within the States. Same book’s postage might cost you anywhere between 20 to 40 USD, if ordered on a Pakistani address.)

Tips for purchasing from

Search the item thoroughly. Then read what customers have to say about the product. Also check the product rating based on consumer ratings. Then, if the product is very expensive, say a camera, then check out various sites detailing tech specs of that product. Back to, check out who’s selling the product. has a rating system for all its suppliers and provides each seller a star based rating from which a customer can decide which seller to go for. I always consider 96% rated or above seller to be worth going for. This ensures great delivery time, lowest possible costs and if something is wrong with the product or the packaging, it may be returned easily and replaced without hassle.

Take this as an example: I recently ordered a Lonely Planet traveler diary notebook from a seller whose rating was 96%. The seller informed me that my diary would reach latest by 14th Feb, 2011. My friend informed me on 19th Feb, 2011, that my product hadn’t arrived yet. Using claim form at Amazon I complained to the website. Within next 24 hours I received apology from the supplier, who told me that my USD 5.0 (rate for the book + postage) have been refunded to my account. They further told me to keep the book for free if it still arrived (They won’t charge because it was a late delivery). What a brilliant service that was. I have mentioned this instance of honesty and excellent supply chain system to all who know me and via this blog I am mentioning it to all who have read it. Purchasing wasn’t that easy before Amazon paved the way. And today, before I drop down to local shops, I check book reviews and rates from the website. Many a times, a book selling for over Rs.3000 (used but like new) in Karachi’s elite bookstore have been purchased by my on for less than Rs.800. No wonder, I now have probably the best collection of National Geographic photography books this side of Suez Canal!

Ameer Hamza is now collecting Travel Safari Vests, Travel Backpacks and all the travel books written in English anywhere in the world. For this end, he has annoyed his friends and a cousin in USA to a great extent.

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