Buying Bits and Pieces

Beijing shows its friendly side. It’s sunny and pleasantly warm. Today I went to one of the Zhongguancun Electronics Markets to replace a broken recharger for my notebook. Those huge, noisy places are very special: With their hundreds of booths they look like 21st century versions of old-style oriental markets. As a western customer you are constantly pestered by boys and girls wanting to sell you some overpriced digital equipment. But the more you understand the architecture and mechanism of the location the nicer it gets.

Last time I’d been to Zhongguancun I had wanted to replace an Aigo MP4 player with a broken screen. But the girl in the booth insisted on me having it fixed, instead of selling me a new one, and personally guided me to the basement of another building where all the big brands have their repair shops. I had to wait for 30 min and pay a reasonably small amount of money, and left the building with a big, satisfied grin on my face.

Today’s experience was similar. Once I’d found out better not to rely on the Hewlett-Packard branded booths (they asked for 1,800 Yuan, the equivalent of 180 Euros, for the primitive device) I entered into the world of no-name, everyday trading places with helpful and practical staff. Not much need for bargaining, these people sold me what I wanted for 210 Yuan.