Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Bizarre Economics

Mervyn King - no, not Mervyn "The King" King the darts player, and not Mervyn King the England bowls international, nor even Mervyn King the South African judge - I mean Sir Mervyn King - the Mervyn King as it were, current governor of the Bank of England ...

Has there been a wager over how many times Mervyn King can be mentioned in one short blog? Am I going for the name droppers' world record in Mervyn King mentions? Is this some curious experiment connected with search engine optimization as regards Mervyn King?

No.

I just wanted to say that even Mervyn King, with all he knows about money (presumably), could not explain a recent lump of modern economics that recently befell me. Get this:

I have an old Sony camcorder, and old Sony camcorders have a screw thread at the front on which you can mount accessories such as filters and the like. This thread has a diameter of 37mm (don't ask me why.)

I recently found, on my beloved ebay, a pair of lenses: one x0.5 wide-angle, the other x2 telephoto, contained in a handy little leatherette case. It seemed too good to miss, so I placed my bid, and at the fall of the notional hammer I acquired the same for a bargain £3. This bargain soon more than halved, however, since to actually take possession of the item I had to stump up a further £3.50 in postal charges, a tad more, note, than the actual value of the item.

Once the lenses arrived, I discovered that they were not threaded for 37mm, but for a measely 28mm. Since it would have cost me a further £3.50 to return them to the remote isle from whence they came, I sucked it up and went hunting for a gadget that would solve my problem.

The gadget in question is called a 37-28 step down adapter ring. Not an ideal solution, as the photographers among my readership will know, but it will probably suffice for what I want, which is rostrum work.

There is, these days, only one recourse when a body wishes to acquire an item as specialized, not to say exotic, as a 37-28 step down adapter ring. To attempt to find a small, friendly local photographic shop would be absolutely out of the question. This is, after all, London, and small, friendly local photographic shops are hard to find, mainly on account of the rents, which are not inconsiderable hereabouts. Add to that the traffic chaos of the Olympics and ... no, no, no, no!

So it was back to ebay.

There were five 37-28 step down adapter rings listed. Four were from China, which three out of the four spell "Hong Kong" since they know that the average Brit will trust "Hong Kong" more than "China." (This is an artefact of our imperial history and need not concern us more here.) The point is that the four Chinese rings were priced at between £2 and £2.50, including shipping. The one remaining ring, sourced from a UK distributor based in Britol, weighed in at a whopping £8.99 including shipping.

More than three times the price!

Now, I know we're not talking gigantic Mervyn King-like sums here, but it's the principle: the Chinese can get one to me, despite being 10,000 miles away at less than a third the cost of the one coming from Britol, which is, what? A hundred miles away?

To add insult to injury, they all come from China anyway!

Good luck sorting this economics stuff out Merv, old buddy. It's certainly beyond me.

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