Thursday, February 2, 2017

My B&H Photo Experience: Buying a Macbook Pro from the US

This is the first part of my experience in buying a Macbook Pro from the US via B&H Photo and shipping it to the Philippines via Shipping Cart. The post recounts what I had to go through in order for B&H Photo to successfully process my order. 

The 2016 Macbook Pro is by far the most expensive item I purchased online. B&H Photo's Cyber Monday offer, coupled with BDO Visa's "The Great Online Shopping Rebate" promo, made the offer too good to resist.

While it was easy placing the order online, the order verification process gave me some anxious moments.

[Related Story: It's Official: I saved ₱18,000 on my 2016 Macbook Pro Purchase]

Normally, for my purchases in US online stores (Amazon, Cole Haan, Toys R Us, Thriftbooks, Cotton Babies, etc.), I simply provide Shipping Cart's US phone number. I never had issues doing this, either the merchants don't really call or the Shipping Cart office is able to handle delivery concerns on my behalf. But my first B&H purchase was an exception, order verification process was conducted probably due to the order amount ($1,399). The B&H Verification Team tried to contact the phone number I provided, but failed to talk to a Shipping Cart staff, so they sent me this message instead:

Please be advised that we have tried to verify your order by calling the phone number(s) listed below and either there was no answer, or it was busy, or it was a fax line. Please contact us and let us know when we can call you again at that number or provide us with another number.

At first, I thought they just wanted to confirm the delivery address so my initial reply to them was:

The delivery address in Hayward that I provided is my trusted freight forwarding service to the Philippines. The number I provided is in their office. In case you really need to talk to me, you may call me at +63 917 XXXXXXX. Thank you.

I forgot to mention Shipping Cart's business hours so I sent another email:

I forgot to mention, you may contact (650) 873-0750 from Mondays through Fridays 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. California time and on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. California time.

You may also reach me at my Philippine mobile phone number +63 917 XXXXXXX, any day from 8:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. California time.

Btw, I would appreciate if the item will be placed in the smallest shipping box possible.

Thank you.

Since a day has passed and I still haven't received a reply, I decided to contact B&H's Live Chat. The CSR explained to me that the Verification Team hasn't released my order yet since they still haven't verified my order. I asked if I can do the order verification via Live Chat but I was told that it was not possible.

And so I sent another email to the Verification Team:

Good morning. I contacted the Live Chat support earlier to follow-up on the status of my order and the one I talked to (Alex P) mentioned that the Verification Team hasn't released my order yet. I want to confirm that the order placed is valid and I would like to have it shipped as soon as possible (I was expecting it to be delivered on Dec 2). I tried to call your toll free number but can't get through. If you need to talk to me to confirm the order, you may call me now (or within the next 3 hours).

The next day, I received an email from the B&H Verification Team, a reply to my initial email, asking if I have an email with business domain. Good thing, I have a company email address so I replied immediately.

On the following day, I received another email saying that my order has been shipped! Finally, a sigh of relief! The next thing to worry about now is how big the shipping box is, since it will determine my shipping cost to the Philippines. I messaged B&H's customer service department, as well as UPS' chat support, so they can give me an idea on the size of the shipping box used. That's how excited I am (and anxious at the same time) that time. Unfortunately, both can't provide the box dimensions so I just waited for my package to be delivered to Shipping Cart's office. My order finally arrived on December 7, 2016, 5 days delayed compared to the original estimate delivery date of B&H. I'll share my Shipping Cart experience in another post.

[Related Story: My Shipping Cart Experience: Macbook Pro from US to the Philippines]

Will I order from B&H Photo again?

Absolutely. The flash sales, special discounts and zero tax (when delivered outside New York) are some of the things that make me go back to their site (and oh, they have a mobile app too). In fact, a day after the Macbook Pro was shipped from their warehouse, I ordered another item, a Western Digital 2TB Portable Hard Drive for Mac. Since the item was relatively less expensive this time ($74.99), no order verification process was done (or maybe, because they just recently verified my account). The order was processed and shipped on the same day, and was delivered to Shipping Cart's office on time.

You might also be interested with the following posts:

How We Survived the No TV / No Tablet Rule for our Toddler
10 Truths Newbie Stock Traders Should Know
5 Reasons Why I Prefer Grab Over Uber
UITF Investing 101: Equity Funds are for Long Term Investing
Shop from Amazon, Ship to the Philippines, Get Tax Refund


  1. Hey Man! I am also ordering an item from B&H and I was encountering a problem when checking out. I would type the Shipping Cart address on address line 1 and/or 2 but when reviewing my order, the account number always disappears. Can you help me with this?

    1. Have you tried registering to B&H then specify the Shipping Cart address as your delivery address? I was able to save this in Address Line 1 previously: 26517 Danti Court #99-XXXX.

      In case B&H really clears your Shipping Cart account number now, it should still be ok. Shipping Cart would just check the account involved for the item received based on your name.

  2. Hi bro, I'm trying to order now in B&H, and it has an option wherein I can directly ship my order from US to Philippines thru DHL express. It also appears that it's a lot cheaper compare to Do you think there are hidden charges if It's direct to Philippines?

    1. If you choose DHL, be prepared to pay customs tax if the item amount exceeds the 10K maximum allowable amount. That is actually the tricky part and the reason why I prefer forwarders such as Shipping Cart or My Shopping Box.

  3. Hi. I read your blog entry minutes after purchasing a USD500 lens from B&H, and shipped via DHL. Oh no, do you have any idea how much would the taxes and duties be? Would it exceed 12% of the item's price? ��

    1. Sorry, I'm not really familiar with the customs tax computation.

      I did a quick search and found this:
      The Philippines Customs apply a value added tax (VAT) for imported goods at 12 percent. The Philippines’ customs levy no tariff or tax for goods worth less than P10,000 (US$200).


    2. hi Cecilia,
      i'm also planning to buy something in B&H.. for the $500 lens how much did you pay for the customs tax and where will you pay for the tax? thanks and good day!

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