Currency dip alert by HumanEdgeTech: buy cheap, buy...American!

Posted: Oct 20, 2010 03:28 pm EDT

US economy is slowly gaining strength but the dollar has once again hit rock bottom. With that, great deals are to be made by global climbers, explorers and travelers.

Exporting worldwide for years, selling to France, Korea or Kazakhstan is no different than shipping to Iowa for the international crew at HumanEdgeTech (HET). Gear can be delivered in Nepal or China within 2-3 days, the simple custom procedures typically handled by the shipping company such as FedEx.

For international shoppers, this means that making money on currency is easy.

Europeans pay 40-60% above US prices

Take satellite phones. A quick Google search today (October 20) comparing prices in UK, France, Germany showed that Europeans pay 40-60% above US prices.

Thuraya SG-2520 went for 1099 in Germany and 1070 in France. £900 was the cheapest found in Britain.

Thuraya SG-2520 sells for $985 at HumanEdgeTech. With the Oct 20 exchange at $1:60 for a British Pound and $1.40 for a Euro; a $400 - $600 profit on Thuraya SG-2520 can be made by savvy customers buying the sat phone from US.

The lowest found in Germany for the new Iridium 9555 was 1395. This translates to $2100 - or $600 above the HumanEdgeTech price.

Shipping, import tax and VAT

But what about the cost and hassle of shipping and taxes then? Cheaper and easier than you'd think.

About 50% of sales at HumanEdgeTech are on export, most to Canada and UK.

Shipping to most European cities normally takes 2 days (FedEx) and costs around $60 for a satellite phone. There is usually no or a very low import tax to EU countries and VAT is typically 15-20%.

VAT is the value added tax that has to be applied to all items sold in most European countries. If you buy the product in Europe, VAT will be added at the point of sale (in the store etc). If you order and ship from US, VAT will be added in the customs.

VAT and tax can be avoided completely or in part if
- your purchase is below a certain value,
- you buy in person in US,
- and personally bring the items back home with you.

Check this with your country's custom authorities; it's an idea if you plan an overseas trip anyway.

Some buyers want their packages marked down in value, labeled as gifts etc. It's illegal and the custom folks are smarter than you think: the gear is likely to get stuck for months (until you pay the VAT), or be rejected (returned to sender) altogether.

30% off on Everest permit

There's lots of money to be saved on a single satellite phone. But most expeditions spend much more than that. The expedition average on sat comm gear is $3000 to $6000, so the savings can easily shoot up to $1500-3000.

That's a spare sat phone at no charge or up to a third of the permit cost to climb Mount Everest! Similar savings can be done on airtime, power, and most other hardware.

And there's more...

As for software, for those using Contact - a software customized entirely for transmissions over satellite - the cost of airtime can be cut in half compared to regular emails and updates made over sat phone to homepages or social media.

HET performs Contact speed tests with regular intervals. A recent transfer of a 2MB file over Wideye BGAN, the most popular high speed modem used by explorers today, confirmed the savings once again.

It's easy to imagine that a 2MB file would require 2 MB of data to be transferred. Yet transfers vary significantly due to log-in procedures, confirmations and other technicalities. The 2MB file was thus uploaded first through CONTACT, then to Facebook and finally over email.

CONTACT - built on a straight file transfer - required 2MB exactly. But a regular Facebook update of the same file required 4.1MB and a regular email 4.8MB.

The language thing

Canadian and British customers have realized the strong advantage of American purchases, said Tom Sjogren, CTO at HumanEdgeTech. Fewer orders are still placed at HET from countries such as Germany, France or Spain though.

"A language barrier perhaps," Sjogren said, "but there's nothing to fear; our know-how, service and support are global."

How can prices be so low in US?

So how can prices be so low in the US? The currency alone is not the complete answer.

Competition is by tradition higher in the US, and the margins are therefore lower. This brings down the prices in the first place, but the weak (and probably undervalued dollar) now adds to this.

Last month's USD dip is the third in three years. Historically these rock bottom rates keep for a month or so.

HumanEdgeTech is a unique, no-nonsense virtual expedition tech warehouse for satellite communications and edge technology. Created by explorers for explorers, the store is user-friendly with no-hassle pricing, expedition-tested gear, expedition-ready hardware, fast delivery and payments. accepts most international credit cards, and delivers worldwide within 72 hours. For technical and import advice email team@humanedgetech, call 212-966-1928 or order direct at

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