Most expats are exasperated with the high cost of computers, cameras, tablet computers, e-readers and other electronic gadgets in the Philippines compared to the U.S. and elsewhere. Johnny Air Cargo (JAC) is an air cargo company with branches in the U.S. and in the Philippines. JAC offers an interesting alternative if you live near a JAC office in the Philippines. JAC has offices in Metro Manila, Pangasinan, Naga, Laoag, Bacolod, Cebu City, Iloilo, Davao and Cagayan de Oro.
Here’s how the JAC program works. You make your purchases through any of the online merchants such as Amazon.com, NewEgg.com, and frys.com. When you make your purchase, have it shipped to the Woodside, Queens, NY JAC office. The JAC website http://www.johnnyair.com/?page=72 gives the email addresses of JAC agents. You choose one and inquire about the service using the email addresses on the JAC website. They will give you shipping instructions. For example, I contacted Analyn Diego at the Woodside office. She sent me an email describing the program and told me to ship our purchases to:ANALYN-ROBERT HAMMERSLAG Address:6904 Roosevelt Avenue Woodside, NY 11377 (718) 672-7080 As soon as we made our purchase we notified Ms. Diego of our purchase and asked her to forward it to the JAC Iloilo office. Based on Analyn’s email quote we expected the cost to be as follows: Service charge: $5.00
Shipping: $7.50 per pound to Metro Manila, $8.50 per pound to the provinces with a two pound minimum.
Customs fee: laptops ($50), iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch/Smartphones/Tablets/
Couture/bags and other high-value items worth $500 and over ($25)
VAT: 12% of the fees paid to JAC.
As a test, we ordered a Barnes and Noble Nook Color e-reader. Barnes and Noble does not ship its e-readers outside of the U.S. so using the JAC Woodside shipping address was perfect. Since we ordered it from Barnes and Noble, which has branches in New York, we had to pay New York State Sales tax. Of course, it’s better to order from merchants offering free shipping and no sales tax. I placed the order on Oct. 19. On Nov. 5 we were informed by text message that my package was available for pickup at the JAC Iloilo office and that the charges are P3413.28. We were upset because, based on the information we had received from Analyn, the fees should have been $17 for shipping, $25 for customs, service fee $5.00 + $5.62 VAT for a total of $52.62 or about P2290. It took several rounds of text messages and emails before JAC relented. The final charges were P2185.48. We think that the problem may have been that someone at JAC may have mis-classified the Nook e-reader as a computer and so charged a $50 customs fee rather than the $25.00 e-reader fee.
The JAC staff in Iloilo were helpful in resolving the problem so we decided to give them another try with a camera order. It worked perfectly. The total cost we paid at pickup in Iloilo was P950 or about $22. This is a bargain for international air shipping. Doing the same shipment via FedEx or DHL would be much, much more expensive, albeit a few days faster.
Bottom line — JAC offers an appealing work-around especially for high value, light weight items such as cameras and laptop computers. Here’s an example. A decent laptop computer costs about P40,000 in the Philippines or $920.00 The same computer in the U.S. would be about $550 or P23,925. The savings is P16,075. Assuming a weight of 10#, JAC would charge $150 to deliver the laptop to a Philippine provincial office, so over all the savings would be almost P10,000. Of course you have to consider warranty coverage. We have previously recommended Asus brand laptops because they offer a two year global warranty which really works in the Philippines.