Buying Electronics in Beijing
It can be very difficult to know what you really are paying for when you stand there in front of the pushy salesman who happily informs you that he only sells top of the line products. Here are a few tips to make your purchase a little bit easier.
The most common way a salesman fools you is to sell a product with an incorrect memory size. That goes for memory cards, MP3/MP4 players, USB flash drives, digital cameras, DV cameras, cell phones etc. That the products menu informs you of storage of 32 GB is absolutely no guarantee, nor the glittering hologram on the box. So what to do? Rule number one is to tell a small white lie if the salesperson asks you how long you are staying in Beijing. If you answer honestly that you're just a tourist who goes home next week, then the risk is that the seller chooses to sell an inferior product since you will not have time to detect any deficiencies before you leave the country. If you instead say that you are in Beijing for business or studying and will use the product daily, then the risk is much smaller. If you also inform them that you are aware of "some sellers" that sell products with "misleading memory sizes" and ask your specific seller to ensure you that this is not such a product, then you can almost start to relax.
To fully test the product in the shop is not always easy but if you have access to a computer while you are in Beijing then you can do a simple test to see if the memory size is correct. First you fill the memory until it is almost completely full. Then put in one last song, image or movie. If that last file can be viewed or played then the memory size is correct. Does it not play or display correctly, then what have happened is that you first filled the entire actual memory and then copied the last file to a space that does not really exist. It looks like the file is there, but what you see is just the file name without it's content.
Other common problems are short battery life or buttons that falls off. Pinch, pull and squeeze the product to see that it's firm and solid. Usually there are several products of the same type that you intend to buy, look also at these to see if they are intact and appear to be solid. If they aren't then take it as a warning of a low quality product. When it comes to battery life, the only thing you really can do is to ask the seller how long a full battery charge hold, and then try to test whether it is true, while you're still in Beijing.
The fact is that if you discover that you were deceived, or that something is wrong with your product then it is very rare that the seller will not let you switch to a working product or return the money if the item is not functioning correctly and you just bought it some days ago. Just be sure to ask for a receipt when you buy the product.
Be aware that what you buy might be, and in most cases probably is, a copy, without any valid warranty. If you want to be sure of getting a genuine product, then you'd better visit an authorized dealer.
Finally, it should be mentioned that everything sold is not bad. We have experience with digital cameras that have worked just as well as real branded cameras, and Chinese MP4 players that were able to play movies long before any similar video players could be found in the West. But you shouldn't expect something that costs one-tenth of the price back home, to last even half as long.