Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cash on Delivery!

I had such an interesting post on the fate of the ISS and Japan's involvement, but it was consigned to digital oblivion when FireFox crashed! Ah, well, it last it wasn't Internet Explorer, otherwise I'd have viruses running rampant through my system too. Or, worse, Safari - about as water tight as a fishnet stocking.

I was lamenting about my post when lo and behold the Amazon order showed up at my door! Wow, the Japanese postal service even at Xmas time is nothing short of amazing. Probably because they send New Year's cards instead of Xmas ones... Of course, I wasn't expecting the chap so I only had a couple of thousand yen in my pocket to pay for the book, which is Nation Branding by Keith Dinnie - one of my course lecturers. I'll have to charge him for that plug, hehe. Now, before I get sidetracked into a rant about Nation Branding / Public Diplomacy / sinister thought manipulation, I thought I'd talk about credit cards versus cash on delivery. Mundane, isn't it? Not really. For people living in Africa, with no credit cards but steady incomes, this is a real problem. There's a whole world of electronic education out there... oh, yeah some of it's free - heck a lot of it's free, but it's just not the same as a physical book, or an e-book, or a CD full of educational utilities. It was annoying as heck when I lived in SA, all these wonderful things to buy and here I am locked out of the world of e-commerce. Yeah, there were eBucks but those were only useful if you bought South African products. No thanks, I can pay for biltong (meat jerky only better) out of my wallet.

Then you have to wonder, what else are non-credit-carded people missing out on? Operating systems (Windows Vista was a washout but 7 is awesome), antivirus software, cheap hardware etc. One of the really annoying things about South Africa was the horrendous prices people had to pay for laptops. Incredible Connections, for example, charged R10 000+ for a machines that were nowhere near the power of my vanilla Dell Studio 15. Maybe only now do they have a machine on the shelves that equals mine, which cost me all of the equivalent of R6 000 when I bought it, including shipping from Singapore and delivery to my doorstep (albeit sans English Vista, which is a pain). Unbelievable. You might be persuaded to think SA has a 100% import duty on laptops - but it doesn't. Maybe now the situation is changing... but still, the models in the stores in August still wilted next to mine, for price and performance.

SA really needs to understand the power of credit cards, and making the availability of "pay-as-you-go" credit cards widespread. But no. We'll probably be stuck in the tech dark ages for a while yet.

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