From one troll to another

Lets face it, I am a troll. But that doesn’t prohibit me from pointing out other trolls in their natural habitat and when to avoid them. If you are ever going to Computer Alley with a car, keep in mind that the parking behind Starbucks just off off Jin Shan Nan Liu currently has a troll. I have independently verified the status of this troll by the following methods. 1) walking thought the parking lot this person was moving cars and drove up behind me revving the engine of the vehicle she was parking. 2) a friend of mine parked there during one of my strolls to the alley, and after being unable to use the automated teller machine attempted to make payment via said troll. Who rudely refused to speak Chinese, and pointed back to the semi-functioning automated system. 3) was seen today yelling at the owner (or manager) of said parking lot.

If this troll is seen in her lair a quick call to animal control followed by a prompt selection of one of the other 3 parking lots in the area is quite useful.

The NT$16000 Laptop Challenge

Needless to say I buy a lot of computers. In a slow year, at least 15-20. Basically, I end up being the sucker that Taiwanese go to when they want a new computer. The difficult part about this is that I am obviously a foreigner, so I have to fight a little bit harder to get good prices.

Todays Challenge? A new laptop, (with decent performance i.e. not an eeepc) dual core for less than NT$16k. Well, lets get started.

Step one, getting there. Today, I need to walk. so I take the MRT and arrive one station away. On the street, and bingo my daily near miss by a speeding taxi on a small road. I had my camera handy so :

Obviously there is no sidewalk, and because I was in the way I got the ritual honk from the taxi driver. Thank you very much for speeding and negligence, but thank you even more for swerving at the last moment.

Step two, shopping. Today I did not get much sleep so to avoid the traditional 3-4 hours shopping, i went directly to the 9 laptop stores all clustered near the corner of Ba De and JingShan Nan Liu and just hit them with my real price. Normally I play the game of looking for a lower price to see how much of a discount I can get.

I carefully avoid the people i know well (and they avoid the cheap-skate foreigner) by non-verbal mutual agreement, and wave at a few people I know. Walking in and out of each store quickly. I find that 3 stores aren’t even interested and tell me its impossible to find a laptop at this price. But to my surprise, there are 5 stores that have an option they are willing to work with, and one store has two options. I get the price and model # at each store and a name card. Co-incidentally one store i have purchased 5 or 6 laptops from before because they consistently have a lower price (after negotiation) than the other stores, and they are the one with 2 choices. I am not endorsing them, but if your looking its worth your time to go visit them and price shop.

The real place where you can negotiate is typically in add-ons. In this case, I had a choice between a low end Lenovo and a Compaq. All things being equal, the Compaq was more appealing. We talked and i got a free 1GB upgrade in RAM (800Mhz) and this had the 7200 rpm HDD, then I mentioned this price had to include tax (as its a company purchase). You can see the label of the winning model below.

Now this is where you get to play the waiting game, typically you end up waiting 30+ minutes while they get the laptop (after they tell you it will be here in 5 min). Today, I was super lucky and only had a 15 min wait. Things are going so well, I decided to call a friend and eat lunch. I met her in the back alley and ate at a resturant I havent eaten for a long time… Overall NT$90 for a plate of black pepper beef over rice that was just too big for me to finish.

Ok, i got lucky and had one of those rare days where I actually came out on top. I hope you can come out on top too!!!